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I sent an email to ask a few questions to a printing shop about some gaming cards I want to print but I'm not sure I understood the answers they gave me.

  1. When I asked them, according to their printing settings, which color profile I should use to be compliant, they told me not to use any color profile. How can I be sure the colors in my files will be properly interpreted by their printer then? It seems like a hit or miss thing to me. It becomes even more confusing when they say I can send files in either RGB or CMYK mode, "it doesn't matter" (note that they want a file in PDF format).

  2. I also asked which image resolution I should send them and they said "we can print up to 800 dpi". This confuses me as I was asking the output format they want, assuming they would downsample it to 300 dpi. And they seem to tell me that their printing input format is anything between 300 and 800. I thought 300 was all there was when printing. So, which resolution is the best to send them objectively then to get the most out of my files, considering I scanned the illustrations at 2400 dpi ? 300 or 600 or 800 or anything in between? Does it really not matter?

I could ask them of course but I figure I could make more sense of it all here. They seem to be responsive but not very keen to explanations (which is understandable). FYI, it's MakePlaying Cards.com, which has a relatively good reputation, so I believe it's just me not getting it.

  1. nothing to do with them this time: is there a point to use a IT8 target to calibrate and profile a budget scanner (Epson perfection V39) or is it worthless for that product range? it's a decent scanner but certainly not high end. My iMac screen is calibrated but the scanner default color settings seem off. I played with the VueScan settings and it's better but still approximative. On the other hand, I don''t want to buy and wait for an IT8 target that would end up being useless with the hardware I own.

Thanks for your help.

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  • Generally the only reason you notice color profile mismatches is when you print the thing 2 times. The hard copy is always different form screen anyway. It is however apparent that its different form print to print.
    – joojaa
    Dec 30 '20 at 10:19
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  1. I think the upshot here is that they are not willing to give you any guarantees about colour matching. The fact they can use either RGB or CMYK images suggests to me the print technology is probably fully digital, and the service is set up so that ordinary members of the public who lack technical knowledge and don't have access to professional design software, can easily access their services.

  2. 300dpi is generally a minimum requirement in printing for raster images. It's not common practice for any print shops to resample higher resolution images to bring them down to 300dpi. If your images are vector, and you are sending a PDF, then you don't need to worry about resolution anyway. If the PDF also contains raster images, make sure they are at least 300dpi.

  3. I can't really answer this, as I don't have access to your computer or hardware. I had a brief look through the V39 user manual but could find no references to calibration. Maybe contact the manufacturer if you need tech support for their product. Also note that tech support and hardware questions are generally off-topic here.

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  • Thanks. I'm not asking for technical support or anything directly hardware related. The product is just an example of a budget scanner. My question was just to know if calibrating a budget scanner is worth it. I think this question makes sense in general. The product was just to give an idea about what kind of budget scanner we are talking about (not high end but still not the worst). Dec 30 '20 at 13:46
  • About the printing colors: I'm not looking for an absolute perfect match but at least some kind of resemblance. Sure they don't seem to take any risk here but it doesn't give me any clue on how far they can get from the actual colors. It seems very shady. Which is strange from a service that has good reputation. About the resolution : the illustrations are raster pictures so yes, it matters. At least 300 is a given but any reason to send a higher resolution ? Dec 30 '20 at 13:57
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    @BachirMessaouri I'm pretty sure there will be some colour resemblance, in the ball park at least. It may seem "shady" to you, but most ordinary people don't know anything about device calibration or accuracy in colour, and to be honest most really won't care. I can't answer the your question about whether sending a higher resolution image will make any difference. It will probably depend on the equipment and technology they are using to print the image, for example whether it's capable of actually outputting higher dpi prints.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 30 '20 at 17:49
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    @BachirMessaouri as far as calibrating your scanner, I honestly don't even know if it is capable of being calibrated. There's nothing about calibration in the user manual.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 30 '20 at 17:52
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They say: Send a PDF, we print it. We are not going to give to you any information of the printable color range and how exactly you'll get what you saw on your screen. It will be what it happens to be.

They say "it's useless to have more than 800 dpi - we are not going to give any advantage to you if you happen to send say 1000 dpi. Do we even start the job - you'll see it only after you have sent to us more than 800 dpi".

I guess they believe they have skilled persons doing the actual printing and they believe that they'll do their best to output something good looking - maybe different than what the customer saw on his screen, but colorful and consistent enough.

Their customer handling protocol is kept minimal to avoid a need to chat about things that ordinary punters very likely would misunderstand or become afraid of. Maybe a $100000,- job would raise more interest on talking about technical details.

With color calibration you'll get to know what your scanner actually catches from some standard color sheets and give to Photoshop or other color management capable software a possibility to show what the scanner actually had on it's glass. I guess you are not going to make replicas, you in any case like to tweak colors, so the profiling would be useless. You can set the profile as well in your computer to keep what you got after the tweaks.

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    Second sentence could also be translated as. We don't give color guarantees for (someone as small as) you. Mainly because color consistency guarantee and budget user makes no sense.
    – joojaa
    Dec 30 '20 at 10:20
  • Actually it's a "replica" in terms of illustrations. I want it to be as close as the scans that I can get. No copyright infringement though. That's not a concern here. Dec 30 '20 at 13:50
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    @BachirMessaouri I have used some Epson scanners, but not Perfection v39. Check if the scanning software has somewhere (maybe well hidden) an option to embed scanner's ICC profile into the scanned images. Then you can find (if you have a reliable monitor) how right the scanned colors look. Open the image in a color managed software (Photoshop, Affinity Photo or other) which has in color settings ordered to respect color profiles. If you are a beginner this can sound complex, but that's the way to go if you expect consistent colors.
    – user287001
    Dec 30 '20 at 15:10
  • Ok, thanks! That's valuable info. Dec 30 '20 at 16:42

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