Difference between CMYK, RGB and PANTONE
CMYK color format
It’s a question that is asked daily and we still have no problem explaining it after 9 years of serving PremiumCards.net clients. CMYK is the basic element every file is required to contain in order to print. These are the colors we use on a standard commercial press – Cyan – Magenta – Yellow – Black. These colors are mixed into formulas that create other colors used in your design files. When mixed, you can create just about every color possible. A formula is created using percentages of each CMYK color. Example, 60%C 40%M 40%Y 100%K will produce a rich black. We print all your files in this format.
RGB color format
This format is often used in Photographic Arts. The initials stand for Red – Green – Blue. These are the colors of light and what emits from your TV, Computer, Tablet and Cell Phone screens. Mixing 100% of each red, green and blue light will produce white light. Mixing 100% of each red, green and blue ink will produce a muddy black. These color inks are never used on a CMYK color process press.
Pantone inks are colors that cannot be produced using a standard CMYK color formula. These inks are often added to the press if the press is more than 4 color capable. We use a 6 color press which means we could print CMYK plus two pantone colors. Though not recommended for small print runs, it is useful when a corporate color is required and the client is purchasing a full sheet run for products such as catalogs and larger runs. Pantone color inks can be used in letterpress printing since a letterpress uses a metal die to press the ink on the stock and these runs are usually small due to the cost of letterpress printing.
Preparing your files for optimal print quality
Even though we have templates available to download and use to prepare your files, there is information that every print graphic designer should know. Filling a template that is already setup for you is a great option, but doesn’t do much for helping you understand the process. Some print orders require more than a single file for each side of the print when it has different treatments being applied to that single side. These treatments such as Spot UV, Foil Stamping, Debossing all need a file of their own. All of these can be made from one master file. There is usually a color file for printing CMYK format. Then there’s the treatment files. These are made from a solid images, silhouettes and text that consist of 100% black with no other color added. Save these as their own file – front-spotuv.eps, front-foil.eps. or whatever your requirements are. See tutorials for more help.
All files should be saved in CMYK color format – 300dpi (dots per inch) – All text must be converted to curves/outlines – vector format for eps, pdf and ai files. All files from photoshop should be save as PDF X1A format and with all text flattened. All files must also include a 1/8th inch bleed all the way around even if the background is white. Only applies to paper/cardstock printed products. Setup templates include all layout requirements.
Understanding paper stocks and how all print differently
Most of the time, a CMYK color formula will not print the same color tone from one card stock or paper stock to another. Some stocks are uncoated, more porous than others, coated, laminated, white, offwhite, there’s a lot of reasons why colors will not be the same from stock to stock. While a coated stock can print heavy rich colors, a grainy uncoated stock will print muted and dull in comparison such as our 24pt uncoated.
Different printing methods - There's more than one
Process printing is printing in standard CMYK process color inks to produce a full color process print. This is the most common method.
It’s now a very large part of the printing process and unlike offset process printing, digital printing does not require printing plates/blankets. The process is usually high speed inkjet or dry/powdered ink application such as laser printing.
Large format printing refers to the process of printing large products such as banners, banner stands, window clings, car magnets and other similar large format items. These are usually printed on a wide format printer with a roll feed or a flatbed inkjet that allows for printing on different surfaces and objects.
Letterpress printing is probably the oldest form of all printing and is still the most desirable and premium form of printing there is. Letterpress printers still use old machines with some dating back 150 years ago. These machines often require a metal die to press the image or text against the card stock with ink, foil orjust a simple impression. Letterpress machines often print, foil, emboss, deboss and die cut all in one machine.
These are the questions that are asked more than frequently asked questions.
Questions Designers Ask
Can I split up an order of 1000 cards?
Answer: NO – Each print order requires a space on a run. If the run is for 250, then you can only print 250 of 1 image. 2 print more than one image, you need to purchase more spaces on that run – EX: 250 qty x 4 sets – NOT 1000 divided by 4.
Can you fix my files for me?
Answer: NO – As each order is processed, you agree to terms and conditions that require you to accept responsibility for your files and your order. If we make those changes, we go against our own policy. ALL changes must be paid for in advance. You can select the design service that works best for you on the product pages.
Can you create my spot files or letterpress files for me?
Answer: NO and YES – If your files are vector files, then we can “assist” you with creating the files for spot uv and letterpress. NO if your files are flattened images.
Can you email me proofs of my files before I purchase?
Answer: NO – However, once a purchase is made, we can email proofs. Too many orders in a day to work on unpaid orders?
Can you tell me if my files are ready for print?
Answer: YES – You can email the art department from the contact page above. They will give you a YES or NO with what to change or fix. They will NOT however show you how to fix the issues or make changes until you have made a purchase.
Can you match my cards that I printed from somewhere else?
Answer: NO – There is no way for us to do that. We don’t know what it was printed with, on, from or how.
Can you match the colors I selected on my screen for my art files?
Answer: NO – It is impossible to match print from one run to the other. All computer screens will show colors differently, all paper stocks are different shades of white or colors, each press run is done at different times and calibration is generalized one week at a time.
Can you match my uncoated cards with my silk laminate cards?
Answer: NO – All stocks print different from each other. Uncoated stocks print duller than coated ones do and depending on the shade of white, colors will also vary.
Questions Purchasers Ask
Can you use the files my designer created in any application other than Adobe products?
Answer: NO – Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign are all industry standard software applications used in professional commercial printing. If your designer does not use either of these applications, you may want to hire a real designer or us to create your files for you. You can select the proper design service on the product page.
Can you split ship my order?
Answer: YES – You will need to order each product per address. If you have 4 cards that need to be ordered and they are all going to different addresses, you will need to order them one at a time.
Can I change my mind after I purchase?
Answer: YES – But only if the product you purchased does not have a status of “processed for printing”. If processed for printing is stated, then there are no more changes or cancellations allowed. If the status reads “info processed” you can pause or cancel and keep as a full credit for up to a year before the purchase is expired and funds are absorbed. If you order is in the “processing” status, then you can cancel for a full refund or make changes to your order.
Is there a way to re-order what I’ve ordered in the past?
Answer: YES – Once you are signed in, in your order history page you can go in to each order and use the re-order link.
My cards did not arrive, but my shipping info says they did. What do I do?
Answer: CONTACT US – We will do our best to retrieve information about your package from the shipping company to locate your package. If they cannot locate the package or if it was damaged, we will put in a claim on your behalf with the shipping company. Once the order has left our facility, we are NO LONGER responsible for the package while it is in transit or when it arrives to said location. Not all claims are accepted and can be denied by the shipping company. If this happens, we can file an appeal for you, but that is about as far as we can handle it. If the shipping company agrees to replace the item, we can then issue you a reprint of that order as long as the shipping company is paying for it. We DO NOT give out refunds after an order has shipped.