I've created a CMYK logo file that will mostly be printed on uncoated paper. On screen the colour looks much brighter than I expect it to print. The colour setting CMYK working space I'm using in Illustrator is FOGRA39 Coated. My question is do I need to change the working space to uncoated or is this unnecessary unless I wish to preview on screen more closely how the logo will look on uncoated paper?

Any help much appreciated.

  • Colors on screen are different to printed colors if you have not a special computer monitor printer system that is configured to show the colors on screen you will get on the printer. In your case you will have to print a few times to check the print and then change the color. Best printing will you get if you use the color profile the printer uses. – Mensch Sep 24 '15 at 14:21
  • Yes. You need to adjust them. Also consult an uncoated paper pantone guide. – Rafael Sep 24 '15 at 17:45

Try to define a logo not with cmyk values, which are relative to the color profiles and the medium which will be printed.

I'll give you an example. Do try this at home.

Take a water based marker. A cyan one.

Now draw a line on a white coated paper. Lets say a good quality magazine.

Now draw a line in a newspaper. It is the same ink, it is the same amount of ink. It is not the same color.

A color profile modifies the amount of ink depending on the characteristics of the paper (and ink) trying in the possible to have a consistent color.

Here is a diagram enter image description here

You can see how converting for example the same RGB file the amount of CMYK inks changes.

The main goal is not to oversaturate the ammount of ink. In our example it would use a "dryer" marker, that delivers less ink so it does not oversaturate the paper.

So when you are using pantone values, that is converted, if needed, to a specific CMYK combination of values.

You need also to define your colors in the Coated or Uncoated pantone guide, which can vary quite a lot.

There is another part of your question:

I wish to preview on screen more closely how the logo will look

For that part you need also to have your monitor calibrated, inclusive you need to have your environmental lights controled. Take a look on color calibration tags on the forum.

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  • Thanks for your explanation. It is beginning to make more sense to me now. I actually started with an uncoated Pantone chip and used an Uncoated Colour Bridge guide for the CMYK conversion. So to clarify, am I best to set up my CMYK working space in Illustrator as an uncoated profile and embed this profile if I intend to print on uncoated paper? – Ellie Sep 27 '15 at 14:44
  • Let us say that your logo is for a full color flyer, then yes, you start with your pantone color, set up your profile and after that define the cmyk values. But if you are printing a letterhead with only lets say one or two colors of the logo, leave the color as pantone. – Rafael Sep 28 '15 at 1:14
  • Your image is now broken. Do you think that you could fix it? – Mithical Mar 8 '17 at 9:53

Printing is a tricky business, because every single printer has a different disposition to color. Their goal is to print it as close to the preview of the file you send them.

So your goal is to export the same profile as the one you're working in, so that the final file looks the same as you intended. Whether that working space is coated or not.

Coated paper is more vivid than uncoated paper. That's just a thing you have to know. But good printers know how to tweak saturation to the proper levels based on the type of medium they are printing on.

So, TLDR: No. You're working space is just fine.

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  • No, you can not "tweek" an uncoated print to have more "vivid" colors than the paper can provide. As you "intended" is not valid if you already know you are using an uncoated paper. Knowing the paper is a vital part of the design process. – Rafael Sep 24 '15 at 17:46
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    @Rafael what do you think the job of professional pressmen is? Not only do they color match documents, but their knowledge of each of the mediums they print on allows them to actually "tweak" colors in a final print. That is what they do. That is why it is best to provide a printed sample when printing in large quantities through different presses, so they can all match exact tones. – Peacockerie Sep 24 '15 at 19:45
  • What do you think the job of a professional designer is? It is not "Oh, somebody else is going to tweek my work later". Yes they need to make some decisions when printing. But it is not to "tweek" a file with wrong cmyk values for example when converting RGB photos. – Rafael Sep 25 '15 at 13:22
  • Let me give you a real life example that happened to me. Designed a workbook, a dvd label and cover, a book cover, and a box kit cover. The box was printed in LA, the book and workbook in Missouri, and the DVD stuff in Arkansas. The files were identically color matched before they left our office. When the components came in, they were all different shades, because some were on cardboard, some were glossy, some were not. We sent them all back with the box sample so the printers would know what colors to match. It worked. The end. – Peacockerie Sep 25 '15 at 13:28
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    @Rafael Yes printer do tweak the colors. They adjust according to the dot gain and they have curves specific to every press; the plates are produced with an adjustment for each press and each uncoated or coated stock, 1-color, CMYK job, etc. – go-junta Oct 10 '15 at 22:15

"Tweaking" colour on press or in the ink room is in general not recommended procedure, - unless you know exactly what you are doing, the characteristics of your substrate (paper) - and the LAB value you want for each of your colours (applies only to spot colours - that can be "tweaked" if you can afford to pay extra for time spent in the ink room - or if you yourself (as a customer) order the inks yourself from an ink manufacturer and provide it to the printer with instructions on the target LAB value. In general I would recommend sticking to international standards and selecting your colours based on those - for 4 colour, select your individual colours from the Pantone CMYK guides and for spot colours pick your colours from the Pantone Formula Guides. Use those libraries when setting up your job. Print out a proof and if you have customer colours within the layout that are from the Pantone CMYK guides, make sure to mark them carefully onto the proof (since Pantone CMYK colours are not tagged especially when the plates are output, so the printer needs to know where they are, if you want him to keep an eye on them during printing). Make sure to replace your guides annually. As pointed out here, since the same Pantone number does not look the same when you print the colour on coated stock and uncoated stock, you should create a "set" for each of your brand colours - PMS C - for spot colour printing on coated stock, PMS U - for spot colour printing on uncoated stock, PMS CP - from the Pantone CMYK C guide for process printing on coated stock, PMS UP - from the Pantone CMYK U guide for process printing on uncoated stock, - and then perhaps a "HEX" colour for the web. It is also a very good idea to select which papertypes the customer should use in his marketing, since the white point of the paper and amount of OBA in the paper can completely screw up brand colours - so create a paper set for your customer that is close to neutral white - see details in the ISO 12647-2/2013 standard.

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  • the question is not about tweaking colors, but just about previewing on the computer... Changing the workspace on Illustrator won't affect the colors being printed. – Luciano Mar 7 '17 at 14:35

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