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Why Are Color Code Call Outs Necessary?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

If you have gone through, or are currently going through the process of purchasing a sign, you may have noticed color call outs listed somewhere on the proof you received. You may be wondering why color call outs are necessary if you can see the colors in the proof on your computer screen or printed out on paper. This article will briefly explain the purpose of this so that you can be confident that your sign will turn out exactly the way you expect it to.

All Displays Are Different

There is a very wide spectrum of manufacturers for displays. Monitors, tablets, and cell phones all have various manufacturers that create displays with their own color space. The inconsistency in color space between displays will cause a single color to appear as two different shades between displays. Regardless of the manufacturer, if you had two displays that were the exact same brand and model, the colors most likely would still appear different due to each display's brightness and color settings. The only way to accurately view color through a display is through the use of a monitor calibration device that will correct the color of the monitor (even this is not highly recommended).

All Printers Are Different There are several factors that alter the way a color is printed. Curing process, print profiles, brands of ink, calibration settings, and the type of substrate are just a few factors that affect the way a color appears when it is printed. For this reason, no two printers will print a single color the same way.

CMYK Vs. RGB CMYK and RGB are both ways of mixing colors to create an end result. CMYK uses combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to create a color, and RGB uses combinations of red, blue, and green to create a color. RGB is used for digital devices. A light source creates any color of the spectrum by combining red, green, and blue. CMYK is used for printed materials. A printer creates any color of the spectrum by combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks at different levels. Due to the fact that colors are created differently on a display than on a print, the outcome will always appear differently between the two.

So What Is the Solution? Color code call outs are the solution to discrepancies involving color. Pantone Matching System (PMS) is the most common way to accurately match a color. This system standardizes colors so that it is possible to identify and match colors. The Pantone Matching System is a compilation of colors grouped into a swatch booklet that has a numbering system to identify each color. Paint codes and standard vinyl colors can also be used to call out a color.

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