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12 Tips for Color Matching

(January 2015) posted on Mon Jan 26, 2015

Refine your vision.

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1. Always compare colors under a standardized light source, such as a color viewing box. Resist the temptation to check colors outdoors, unless the customer specifically requires it.

2. Perform color matching in a well-lit area where the color scheme is based on a neutral gray. (Neutral gray is based only on black and white, without distracting colors in the shade.)

3. If you leave the color viewing area for a long period of time, give your eyes about 10 minutes to adapt to the lighting conditions before resuming your work.

4. When your eyes feel tired and you begin to see after-images, focus on a neutral gray color for 3 to 5 minutes to refresh your vision.

5. When you prepare a color sample, match the size of the original color, as well as the color itself. The size of the color area affects the saturation of the perceived color.

6. Always take into consideration the background behind the color and the background on which you have to match the sample.

7. Prepare a color-shift chart for your most frequently used colors that are similar in content. This should identify how printed foreground colors are affected by background colors you commonly use. (For example, a yellow object on a green background might appear slightly orange.)

8. Keep in mind that it takes very little modification to change the color and saturation of reds and blues. Changing greens and reds takes considerably more modification.

9. To reduce the saturation of a color (make it duller) without changing its value (lightness), add complimentary colors to it.

10. To reduce the saturation of a color and change its value, add black or white before you add complimentary colors.

11. Remember that there is no way to increase the saturation of a color in subtractive color mixing (ink mixing). To create a highly saturated color, you must start with one and add very few modifiers to it.

12. Prepare the final color sample by printing it on the appropriate substrate and keep a record of both the sample and the color formulation.

See also: Pointers for Color Proofing


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