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It Looked Great On My Monitor!

Posted on May 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm by Henningd No Comment

We’re standing at the press, up to color, it’s running at 11,000 impressions per hour, and the client says…“Why does it look so different? It looked great on my monitor!”

Brightness, contrast, color settings… all monitors have them. Unless two monitors are calibrated to the exact same settings, then the colors will always appear different. Even monitors from the same manufacturer and same type can appear different.

It’s been an ongoing problem in the graphic arts industry — matching color across numerous platforms. So what can we do? A number of options are available to help mitigate the issue.

First, do the following:

  • Check the screen resolution. Choose the highest resolution available unless the text is too small.
  •  If you are using an LCD monitor, check the manual or box for the “native” resolution. Set your computer to this resolution.
  • Verify that your computer monitor is in high color or 24-bit mode. If your display is in 16-bit color, there won’t be enough color depth for the calibration process.
  • In Windows, check this by right clicking on your desktop and choosing Graphic    Properties. On Mac, go to Preferences, then click on Displays and then choose Colors:Millions
  • Let your monitor warm up for at least 15 (preferably 30) minutes before beginning the calibration. This will ensure that your computer is 100 percent ready.
  • Make sure that no reflections, glare or strong, direct light reaches your screen. The room doesn’t have to be dark, but ambient light shouldn’t interfere with how you see what’s on the screen.


Next, open the following link: formx.pdf

With a professional quality printer, print the form using the highest quality settings and top-quality satin photo paper. Let it dry away from direct sunlight for a few hours so that the colors can set permanently. Then, open the image file that you just printed. Place the printed photo right next to the original image on the screen and compare.

Adjust the brightness, contrast, and color levels (red, green, blue) on your monitor until the image on the screen resembles the printed photo as closely as possible. This takes time and a good eye for color.

Continue to the next step if you’d like to use software to calibrate your monitor.

The best way to color-match is to use a monitor calibrating device. They are relatively inexpensive, fast, and very accurate. Consider any of the following:

  • Spyder 4 Express
  • Monaco Systems MonacoOPTIX
  • Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display


Keep in mind that you should calibrate your monitor every 2 to 4 weeks for optimum visual accuracy.

I have only scratched the surface, there is just too much about color theory and color profiling, I could write volumes that would not fit in this blog. As always if you would like further assistance contact reference monitor calibration, and I will email you back to discuss color profiling.

Happy Color


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