Why does my final digital print look different than what I see on the screen?

Answer

There are a variety of reasons why the end print, after curing, looks different than the source graphic or the graphic produced in the RIP process.

One key is light—when looking at an image on a computer screen, what displays is the RGB color gamut, and it’s as if the image is backlit. But the printer doesn’t print in RGB. It prints with CMYK inks which result in a slightly different color spectrum. In addition, without a sufficient white under base, a print on a dark garment will be a little (or a lot) dimmer.

Another factor is the amount of pre-treatment applied, especially with a colored or dark garment. Some garments, such as sweatshirts, appear to suck up all the ink the printer applies unless it’s printing on top of a healthy coat of pre-treatment.

A third factor is the curing process. A heat press will interact differently with the inks and fibers than will an oven. The good news is that there are a variety of means to address the differences, including a RIP software that enables a WYSIWYG view of the end product before you print.

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