One of the biggest problematic issues in digital printing and car wraps right now is the quality of color. A common misconception that causes this issue is people confusing what they see on their computer screen versus what actually comes out of the printer.
Why does this happen?
It’s because the color scheme on your computer screen is created by the screen emitting a combination of Red,Green, & Blue lights (or RGB). Whereas a digital printer uses a combination of 4 colors consisting of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) for it’s color scheme.
What does this mean?
RGB is the combination of additive colors, meaning when Red Green & Blue are combined, they can create a wide range of hues and shades from the visible color spectrum, when the 3 are combined at 100%, it creates white light. CMYK is the combination of subtractive colors, meaning when combined correctly, they can subtract specific degrees of Red Green and Blue from white light to produce a significantly smaller range of selective colors.
To further break this down into terms so that a man as simple as myself can understand (I have extreme difficulty locating the funny pages in the Sunday paper), your computer uses the combination of light to create millions of colors, and your printer uses the combination of 4 colors to help create a couple of hundred of colors. This is why those bright shiny colors in your digital file that you can still see when you close your eyes look desaturated once printed.
Every single major design application (such as Illustrator & Photoshop) allows you to determine if you want your file to be created using a RGB color scheme, or a CMYK color scheme. Wait!? Why do those programs let you do that if printing a RGB image on a CMYK printer is a big no-no!?
That’s because RGB based files can be used for digital media such as websites, emails, television, film, etc.. A RGB file only becomes a problem when it’s being used for printing.
So how does a person avoid this issue when choosing colors for their car wrap while still being able to get a good idea of how their art will look once printed? There’s several different methods, one could have a Design Agency punch up a car wrap and sidestep the whole color issue personally. Another way would be to reference a Pantone Color Book while creating your file to get a good idea on how your colors will look when printed. You could also have your computer monitor and printer calibrated to match so what you see on your screen will look exactly the same when it’s printed. Unfortunately those methods can be costly for most people whose last name doesn’t end in Guggenheim.
As mentioned earlier, for those of you who are savvy D.I.Y. types or have a friend/family member who’s a Designer, you can pre-determine the color scheme for your art files. A CMYK color profile assigned to your art file might make it look a little less impressive than it would normally look as RGB, but it gives you a better handle on how your colors will look when your wrap is printed. This will help avoid any unnecessary color surprises once your wrap is completed.