Are the colors on my labels going to look different from the design displayed on my screen?

The colors on your labels can look different from your design for several reasons. Differences in how computer monitors and printers render color mean the label colors you see on your screen may not match the printed labels.
It’s important to understand that label printing uses what’s called ‘4 color process’ to achieve full-color results. ‘4 color process‘ refers to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and ‘key’ for black) inks that are printed in varying amounts to produce an array of colors. Label buyers, however, often make the mistake of designing their label artwork in RGB (red, green, blue) colors which can cause some problems when it comes time to accurate color printing. That’s because graphic design programs are often in the default setting of RGB because that’s what is used by electronic screens to display colors. It also explains why colors on your screen may appear brighter than your label since light is being projected directly into your eyes. It’s essential that you or your label designer use the proper color scheme of CMYK when designing artwork for labels so colors are printed correctly. If your artwork has been designed in RGB, it will need to be converted into CMYK, however, doing this can make the color look different and may need adjustments to get the colors you want.

Another reason why your label colors look different from the design is due to the fact that 4 color process printing builds colors by applying layers of CMYK inks to achieve full-color printing results, but slight variations in color can occur which is why spot colors are used for critical color matches. To create spot color inks, we use the Pantone® Matching System (PMS), a standardized color reproduction system. With standardized colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to ensure colors match without direct contact with one another. If you don’t have your PMS color, you can research online using the Pantone color finder. It’s important to note, however, that digital color simulations aren’t a completely accurate representation of the physical Pantone Color Standards due to variations in screens.

There are several ways to ensure you have the right PMS color like using Pantone’s formula guide, speaking with a Pantone product expert, or converting a CMYK color to the closest Pantone color using Adobe Illustrator – something our pre-press artists can do when preparing your label artwork for printing. With your PMS color, getting an exact color match on your custom labels is much easier.