Most frequent colour errors made while designing packaging

Both the owner of the brand and the printer working for him may have in his history an order to produce packaging such as labels, which turned out to be a total failure. Despite many years of development of printing techniques, the use of advanced graphic design software in the design studios that work with colour-coded simulators and technologically advanced graphics monitors, it is still unlikely that the colours of the packages will be wholly consistent with the original assumptions. As a result, the customer is unhappy with the effect. It is even worse when the appearance of the package only on the basis of a visualization on the monitor has also been accepted the recipient. Then the situation gets really complicated.

What can be the reason for this?

The basis is to understand the first principle in graphic design, that is to distinguish between applying RGB and CMYK / Pantone colours, or expressing this differently, understanding the difference between web design and print design.

The simplest way is to imagine that the images that we see every day on laptops, cameras and mobiles screens exist in the RGB domain. The background of these devices is black, and any colour that we are able to see is produced by a mixture of three basic colours – Red, Green, and Blue. The printing industry, in turn, relies on CMYK or Pantone. In this case, it is enough to understand that the background, that is, the base for printing is white. CMYK stands for the names of four basic printing inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) while Pantone is a colour standardization system.

wzornik kolorów

What is the practical difference between RGB and CMYK and Pantone?

The basic distinction is that in the RGB space we design files that will be displayed on a screen, i.e. graphics for websites, emails, presentations or banner ads. Files designed in CMYK and Pantone are supported by the printing market and such colours are seen on packages (self-adhesive labels, sachets or shrink sleeves).

Also read: "Colors in digital print''

It is worth remembering that a CMYK or Pantone printout from a file prepared for displaying on a monitor (RGB) may mean losing colour brightness. Watching the printout we get the impression that colours are not so vivid and the artwork is rather lacklustre.

rgb vs cmyk

However, you can prevent this by using the right colours and applying metallic backgrounds. If we deliver a properly prepared .pdf file to the printer including extra colours, the effect can be surprisingly good as shown in the image below:
ostrovita odżywka

In this case, the customer decided to make labels on metallised PE foil using a partial blank in white. As a result, a large part of the label looks like a standard CMYK printout on a white background, and elements that require a clear graphical highlight are printed directly on the silver background for a metallic effect, specific gloss and the “standing out” effect.

With HP digital printing, Indigo proof provides tangible evidence of how your order will look. The order of the first trial label on the selected target background gives a complete guarantee of proper reflection of the design. By obtaining a printout from the same printing machine on which the entire print run will be made (in our case, the WS6800 model), we have a guarantee of colour and material consistence.

Click to order a free printout of your own label.



Order your fan-deck

Enter your e-mail and receive your template

Order a fan-deck

Receive your fan-deck