I frequently use a black and white copier to reproduce color material that I create. I have noticed that some colors reproduce well and others do not. By reproduce well, I mean the black and white image looks acceptable...things aren't too black, or too faded, and there is good brightness or contrast.

Is there a source that I can use to help me choose colors for my original so that the black and white copies look acceptable? Maybe a website? For example, if I know blue will reproduce as black or will look "muddy", perhaps I can use another color in the original (and the original is still acceptable.)

  • Convert image to black and white, in whatever app your using, and see what happens?
    – joojaa
    Sep 5, 2015 at 13:05
  • @joojaa I use Idraw. It's educational material with text and shaded boxes. I could take the JPEGs that I create and then open them in Photoshop to see...seems awfully time consuming and hit or miss. Plus, what looks good on my screens might not look good from the copier. Sep 5, 2015 at 13:08
  • Your workflow is hit and miss anyway. That is why your photoshop has color profiles, to make what you see on screen the best possible guess. But if your monitor is not profiled or calibrated then all beyscare off. You can design the colors in PS before you go to iDraw.
    – joojaa
    Sep 5, 2015 at 13:26
  • @joojaa ok, I see...check the colors in Photoshop first, then when I see what I like, use them in Idraw. Does this still work for the photocopier? It uses a green light to scan the images. I suppose I could print out a color palette, then go photocopy it. Looks like I'm answering my own question. Sep 5, 2015 at 13:35
  • Photocopiers most likely use sameish color decomposition as the human eye filter (a BW layer should be close enough). Anyway you can make a BW photocopier profile so you can accurately preview the thing. Different copiers might differ.
    – joojaa
    Sep 5, 2015 at 13:36

3 Answers 3


The image is most likely going to react much the same way as default black and white adjustment layer. It is at least very close to what you need so it gives you a hint on contrast.

But you can do better, much better. It is possible to make a color profile for your black and white photocopier. Now your iDraw should be able to soft proof the color as well as phooshop, illustrator etc.

An alternate workflow is to photocopy a color swatch book anduse that as a guide. This is quite old school and works only for a quick reference. But still better than nothing.


Most any modern photocopier isn't going to have any particular issues with color conversion. So the advice of just proofing it on-screen by converting it to black and white is sufficient.

In the past, however, both the resolution and technology did make it hard to reproduce colors as grayscale. For an old copier, that simply meant you wanted to keep things as high-contrast as possible.

One color that used to be particular problematic was actually a feature: non-repro blue. Earlier copiers had a tough time 'seeing' certain blues. This was a feature in that you could sketch out a rough image using a blue pencil, then come back and ink it in black and when you copied it, you wouldn't see any of the underlying blue rough sketch.


If you are using a copier as a copier, not as a printer:

1) The color of the lamp in a copier is green.

2) The complementary color is red (magenta).

3) Redish colors will apear darker than green-cyan.

So to make a quick look, see the green channel on your image to have an idea.

But the best option is that you make a grayscale image and use that as an original. I see no much sense in gessing. Do a well contrasted grayscale image from your color original.

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