My Prints Seem Too Light. How do I Fix This?

Some customers report their prints are light or washed out. Here is one message we received concerning this issue.

Yesterday I received my prints and greeting cards. It was my first time ordering online prints of my artwork. I expected some color differences between the computer screen and the physical product, but I find that they are more washed out than I would like to have them. I wondered if there was anything that I could do on my end to enhance my printing experience. I have done quite a bit of research on printing, and I know that CMYK is preferred to RGB format for many printers. I chose Printkeg because I read you worked with RGB files. Do you convert to CMYK on your own to help customers, and that’s what resulted in the faded colors? Or do you not correct, and I’m simply dealing with a color switch from a digital to a physical product?

I want to get a closer representation in my physical product to what’s actually on my digital sketchpad. I design with many pastel colors, so could it be that those colors do not translate well in printed form? Would you please advise me on what I need to do going forward to have a superior product to sell to my customers?

There are a few reasons this can be occurring. In most cases, we can resolve the issue.

  1. We do convert all print orders 13″ x 19″ and under to CMYK color mode. That can definitely affect bright colors if your files are RGB. RGB is intended for monitors and digital displays. We will print your files in RGB for larger format prints 16″ x 20″ and up, watercolor prints, and prints on canvas sheets. Those specific products are printing in giclee form which can reach a wide color spectrum.
  2. Secondly, we do lighten everything we print. This is probably affecting your order tremendously. We lighten art to deal with bright monitors. This also helps us capture details hidden in very dark areas.
  3. Prints (13″ x 19″ and under) on matte paper or card stocks will appear less intense and maybe warmer. This is an intentional feature of that paper type.

To rectify the light prints, we send replacements unlightened, and that change alone usually resolves the issue. The prints will appear richer – especially prints on gloss media. If you are more satisfied with the reprints, please be sure to add the note “DO NOT LIGHTEN” to all future orders. That will prevent the same issue from ever occurring again.

We may ask for pictures of your prints. This helps us determine if any other changes should be made on our side before reproducing begins.