We are going to briefly discuss some tips that will help you when creating artwork for print. There are different formats in printing, but we will be focusing mainly on large format or digital printing.

The first thing you need to realize is that your computer monitor is not the finished product unless your art is going straight to the web or to another monitor. Monitors use light to display images. The intensity of color on a digital monitor goes way beyond the capabilities of inks used for printing.

Look at it as getting your design out of the cyber world of your computer, and into the real world of digital print. There is a transformation that takes place, and you want it to be as seamless as possible. In other words, you would like to have what you create to look the same once printed.

One thing to be aware of is “gamut “. Gamut is the range of colors that a color device can display or print. Meaning the range of colors that can be printed in the real world.

Most printers (including the one on your desk) use the CMYK color format. The inks used for printing are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. If you design your artwork in this color mode you should be safe in staying within the gamut range when going to print.

screen shot CMYK


You can set your document in Adobe Illustrator by selecting File / Document Color mode / CMYK, or in Adobe PhotoShop select Image / Mode / CMYK. Now your document is set to work within the CMYK color mode.

Creating in the CMYK mode in PhotoShop will disable some of your filter choices. If you prefer to create in the RGB format be sure to set your document back to CMYK before sending to print. Also be sure to look at your art as well. What you now see in CMYK is closer to the printed outcome.

There is one more Adobe safety feature in case you forget to preset your document to CMYK color mode before you start designing. This is the color palette on your screen. In case you go a little crazy in vibrancy there is a little box that warns you.

This box at the bottom is showing you the gamut color. It is letting you know that bright pink is out of gamut, and will probably actually print more like the color in the gamut box.

Screen shot gamut


Remembering these two tips will help you to achieve the final results you are looking for.