managing colour in print and digital

When choosing a corporate colour for your company you are treading a preverbal minefield. However, here I will try to simplify the options and things to be considered.

1. Print v Digital Colour.

The first thing to understand is that print and digital colour cannot be accurately matched due to the way the colour is produced. Print uses reflected light to show it's colour with black absorbing the majority of light that hits it and white reflecting the majority with varying degrees in-between for the other colours. 
The more colours you lay on top of each other the darker the colour becomes.

On the other hand digital formats rely on projected light in what is known as RGB (Red Green Black) and the more colours that overlap here the lighter the colour becomes. i.e. when all 3 colours overlap you get white and no colours being projected gives black.

2. Lithographic Print

In print there are two main forms of colour which are:

CMYK (or full colour printing) used the majority of the time and absolutely necessary for producing full colour pictures; and

Spot Colour (most commonly a Pantone reference colour) used in one, two or three colour print processes or in addition to CMYK to give a five or more colour print run. Spot colours are generally used to achieve a near as possible perfect match for a logo colour.

3. Choosing your colour.

Obviously the first criteria that needs to be filled is that you choose a colour you like, that works well in your logo and that is appropriate to your business. However you must also bare in mind that not all colours reproduce well or match well across different methods of print.

Orange and green are notoriously bad for matching between spot colour and CMYK (this is not a fault of the printer but of the colour matching systems in general). Blues and reds on the other hand are very good for achieve a close match.

3. Type of paper.

When printing your logo (or anything else) on different types of paper i.e. a wove for your stationery and a gloss art for your brochure, you will inevitably see a difference in the density of the colours. On the wove paper the ink will be 'soaked up' by the paper showing more of the colour of the paper (white) through the ink. Whereas, on the gloss art paper the ink sits on top of the paper retaining its opacity. The result is that on gloss paper you will achieve more vibrant colour than is possible on matt or wove papers.

4. Screen Colour.

The colour you see on your PC screen will not be the same as everybody else. Screens differ widely form one desk to another. With the growth in designs being presented in digital formats this opens up a huge potential for disappointment. Screens can be colour corrected but you are still viewing RGB files on projected light which is fine if that is what the file is intended for i.e. a website. But if the file is intended for print… beware.

5. Desktop Printing.

Desktop printers use totally different printing techniques to commercial printers, you will be printing onto a different type of paper and in the case of laser printers using toner as opposed to wet ink. It is always a good idea to print out designs sent to you in digital format to get a better perception of the finished product, however, do not expect your print out to exactly match the colour of the finished product.


There are methods and techniques to overcome most of these problems. If you are experiencing any of these issues and would like advice we would be happy to help.


Creative Line Design

Tel: 07785 595955




killer SEO tips you can do yourself - 
absolutely FREE - no catch

1. Google My Business

If you want to get onto Page 1 of Google for local searches then 'Google My Business' is an absolute must - and it's FREE. Follow this link for a step by step guide to setting yours up.

2. Online Directories

List your details on as many online directories as you can. The ones that allow you to enter your website are best. This tip has a two-fold benefit:

1. The directories often appear at the top of searches and you will be there.

2. The link back to your website will help with your own Google ranking - the more links back to your site the better.

Use an online submission service to cut down the work - Here is a free service:

3. YouTube

Make business related movies and upload them to YouTube - don't forget to add links back to your website.


Creative Line Design Studio can help with any or all of these points


Call or email to discuss anytime

07785 595955


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