blotchy grey print


Hey all :icon_smile:

Hope you are all well!! I'm after some advice if there are any print people around?

I had my business cards delivered today which I am really pleased with except the grey (50% black) is kind of blotchy.

I didn't realise it would come out like that and would really like to use grey in the cards but can't afford to go down the spot colour route for these just yet.

Should I steer clear of grey altogether or go for a darker percentage?

I had a similar thing although, I don't know what pecentage my black was at the time and it was on leaflets.

I would too, appreciate help from any printers ;)
It's a grey area really...

On a serious note, every printer is obviously different, so the colours will vary with the same readings (you've heard it all before). I'm not overly familiar with how the process works with smaller detailed print, particularly for business cards, but where I work (we do large format), we're often asked to match according to physical samples, to which we can get close to by using process. But then the colour might change again once sealed etc. Matte finishes are generally better for text, whilst gloss is better for pictures.

The problem being, colour matching is so ambiguous, a printer could make your grey darker or brighter, but unless they have something to match to, you won't get the desired colour. There are also things like material colour, thickness and ink density to take into consideration too. Again it might just be where I work, but it's often the case that certain materials appear slightly whiter than others.:icon_biggrin:

In some situations, the person doing the printing might create a swatch and get you to approve one of the colours. I think it really depends on where you get your printing done, because certain companies have different methods and some might charge you for the above process, whereas a few won't (they'll just charge you more for something else).

You could amend your artwork to make the grey appear bolder (altering the surrounding colours sometimes works), but this shouldn't really be necessary. You'd also be guessing by altering the black percentage, although you might be pleased with the result, it'd be a gamble. I'll be interested to see the views of someone who does detailed print, I'm still relatively new to the print scene.:icon_blushing:
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Advice on minimising the chances of dodgy greys amoungst a million other colours

Hi Laura

I'm sorry to hear that you have had problems with the reproduction of the grey on your business cards. As you say reverting to a solid spot colour can be expensive and then you are still subject to possible issues with the surface of the material, the matching of the colour to the pantone reference and the skills of the printer. Having been a litho printer myself I can assure you that print, no matter how skilled the operator, is about how close to perfection you can get - perfection in print is nye on close to impossible due to all of the influencing scientific factors (It's an affliction but I can find fault with virtually any printed item).

I would be interested to know what material the cards were produced on and what screen ruling the printer used for the 50% grey - both being key to this issue.

All is not lost though - international standards have come to the rescue! Our business specialises in colour management and litho print production in particular. Our software and high end proofing system is calibrated so that we are achieving the international colour management standard of FOGRA 39L. This standard is recognised by all litho printers in Europe who are serious about colour! In turn, our partners in print have their plate setters calibrated to meet the FOGRA 39L standard which is part of the ISO12467/2 colour management standard for litho printing.

The log and short of it is that you get what you ask for on press, subject to the material specified. As such we would recommend that you go for a 4 colour process grey and print onto a quality coated or highly calandered board and print using either a 200# or a random dot. Lamination can smooth all flat tints but depending on the colour lamination can yellow things a little.

NOTE: I have just posted an offer on the Offers Forum that could provide you with the opportunity to get some non-blotchy cards. Give me, Ian of Kevin a call on 08701 420430 to book yourself onto our time limited promotion and I will thank your recommendations of us with a further discount!
What he said! Percentages of black are a nightmare. Too late for this occassion, but what I always advise my clients (and many still ignore the advice) is to get us (the print provider) involved as early as possible in the design stage. Get the first designs shown to the printer before the client so they can advise on the pitfall before someone falls in love with the "on screen" or laser version of the design.

There are many factors as pointed out above that will affect the colour. A higher screen ruling or Stochastic screen may help.