We work very hard to produce the best looking books we possibly can, and our books are beautiful. The quality is outstanding at a great price, and our customers are very pleased. However, all digital printing has some variation in color between print runs. All of our consumer customers are ecstatic with our product, but for professionals accustomed to the world of offset printing, we have some further explanation below...
The digital printing revolution is here, and a whole new world of opportunity has arisen. We are part of that revolution. With affordable one-off printing it is economical to print a single copy of a book. We use the latest digital and print technologies, which scarcely existed 15 years ago.
While the advancements of digital printing have been remarkable, there is much work to be accomplished. One area that is still under development is color consistency. Digital printing is making strides to provide the agility of one-off printing while also providing the color consistency of traditional offset printing. Many factors affect the color consistency of digital machines, in particular, humidity and temperature. Simply put, there will be color variation over time and between machines each time a book is printed, because the environment will have changed.
We are committed to offering consistent color. Our team works daily to contribute our part to the revolution. In the mean time, you can expect some slight color variation from one order to the next. If you are looking for the perfect color match every time, offset printing is still your only option. However, due to high setup costs hundreds or even thousands of copies are required to make the effort worthwhile for both the printer and the customer.
Our best advice, at this time, is to exercise patience and adjust your expectations to the realities of current technology. We recommend if you are purchasing one copy as a proof and plan to purchase a second copy later; for the proof, order the exact same product and options you plan to purchase later. By doing this you will eliminate the variation between pieces of equipment.
If you would like to have the best possible color match, you have two options:
- If you have predominantly photo oriented work, our strongest recommendation is just go with RGB. The system is tuned to sRGB, so that is ideal, however Adobe 1998 also works fine. Using other RGB color spaces such as ProPhoto RGB are highly discouraged, and likely to yield muted or color shifted results.
- If you have a lot of page layout work already in CMYK, then you can use that colorspace. The easiest ICC profile to use is the US Web Coated SWOP as that has a slight yellow cast. The iGen applies magenta as the last color, so there is always a leaning towards magenta.
Be advised that digital printing has it's limits, particularly in color and consistency. That is the price not paid for such a great per page cost.
Many professionals are thrilled with the quality and productivity we offer. Those who fret over every pixel tend to be the least satisfied. We strongly suggest you print up a sample, perhaps a personal portfolio with a sample of all types of your work, to see how the printing turns out.
Black and White Photo Printing
The do's, dont's and maybe's for printing Black and White photo prints
Black, White, or Gray?
The first thing we need to discuss is terminology. By convention, a "Black and White" photograph usually refers to a printing in many shades of gray. However, a "Black and White" laser printer usually refers to literally just black dots on white paper. So, in the interest of being consistent, we have used the follow terminology throughout the site:
- "Black and White" refers to a greyscale photograph in its popular, conventional form
- "Monochrome" refers to black and white text printing, like a laser printer or photocopy.
Unfortunately all of these could be legitimately reversed, and have the same meaning.
The Best Way to Make a Black and White Print
The best way to make a black and white print is to be sure all of your prints are in the "Greyscale" color space. The reason this is so important is that a color printer will not use a drop of color ink if the image is in Greyscale. However, if just one pixel is colored, then it will assume the whole image is colored, and use a combination of colors.
Convert Images to Greyscale
Many photo editing applications have the ability to easily convert images to grayscale, often by under the "Image -> Mode" menu.
You can also convert your images into greyscale easily.
1. Upload your images to an image gallery, and select the "Image Order" icon when viewing the gallery.
2. Select the "Batch Select" check box next to the images you would like in greyscale (or batch select all at the bottom of the page)
3. Under the "Batch Commands" menu, choose "Convert to Greyscale" and select "SAVE CHANGES"
After a few minutes, all of your images will be converted to true gray.
What about the K in CMYK ?
Using CMYK is a really advanced. Almost always, colorless photos converted from RGB to CMYK use all colors (CMY) to create levels of black instead of just K. This is because RGB has all colors for it's black levels, and the CMY conversion is doing the exact same thing as RGB. Using the Greyscale colorspace removes all color information and uses just K.
FAQ: What setting should I use for images that are light (skys & large bodies of water)?The greatest challenge for digital printers are light blue skies. Light build colors (under 15% total CMYK) are just hard for the printer, and magenta is the last color applied, which means it can tend to dominate. We recommend you adjust so that the sky or the water looks darker than you expect and they should print nicely.
FAQ: How should I format my images for uploading to ensure they are crisp and clear?Image quality is based on image size (height & width). In general, use the biggest size image you have (without artificially increasing the dimensions. We recommend you set your image resolution to 300dpi, which will produce excellent quality output images. For more detailed information check out Photo Book General Information.
To talk pixels — we have printed a 2 megapixel image (1600x1200) full bleed @ 14x11 and have been very pleased with the results. If you get the width above 2000 pixels, it will be very crisp.