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FAQ > My prints don't match my screen. What do I do?

My prints don't match my screen. What do I do?


There are several reasons why you might be experiencing this:

1. Your monitor is not calibrated correctly, or you are not using color management properly.

2. Prints are capable of showing more colors than monitors.

3. Your monitor shows projected light (the light shines directly through the image on the computer monitor). Your print shows reflected light (the light reflects off the print itself).

4. The type of light that's shining on your print will change the way your print looks. If you look at your print outside, then in your kitchen, then under a lamp, then in the bathroom, you'll see the image become lighter, darker, warmer or cooler. Your monitor has specific lightness, darkness and color temperature, and you need to look at your print in a similar light to view your print accurately. Professionals who are looking for a screen-to-print "match" use special viewing booths (which cost thousands of dollars) or SoLux lamps (a much better bargain) to compare their prints to their displays. Even then, you cannot make the two perfectly match...but you can get it close enough for most demands.

There are a variety of solutions that can help you match your screen to your print:

1. Calibrate your monitor with a device like the X-Rite Eye-One Display 2 Monitor Calibrator.

2. Buy a color-accurate monitor that displays at least 69% of Adobe RGB. This would be a display from the NEC SpectraView line, LaCie, or Eizo.

3. Buy a SoLux 4700K bulb and use it for viewing your print when comparing to your screen.

If you've implemented these solutions, and you are still not happy with the results, then you need to do what the most experienced fine art printmakers do: make proofs. There are always subtle differences that even the best displays cannot show, and a proof gives you a tangible way to see these differences.

What is a proof? It's simply a print of your file made with the same methods you intend to use when you make your final print. Often times, a proof is made at a reduced size (like 8x10), to save money, but proofs can be made at any size. Once you're happy with your image file, simply order a print (your proof)...once you see the print, you'll be able to see how to further refine your image...or confirm that you're happy with your interpretation, and make final prints.

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