Technical Tip: Working with Illuminant Metameric

Scenario: Your customer works hours to match a light gray paint swatch. They were able to match the color when viewed in the shop. Both the paint swatch and the printed sample appear to be the same light gray color. When the printed sample and the swatch are viewed outside, under natural light, the paint swatch still appears light gray, but the print sample now appears to be more green than gray. This is called illuminant metameric.

The color on the paint swatch and the color on the printed sample are metamers. In other words, because they have different spectral power distributions they appear to match under one light source but not another. The printed sample is composed with dots of different colored inks and when exposed to different light sources certain dots become more apparent to the human eye, thus changing the apparent color. If this is an issue that you seem to be fighting on a regular basis, here are some tips to try to prevent this.

TIP 1: If the majority of your prints are for outdoor use, try to install lighting that has the same Kelvin rating as what you would get from the natural sun. This will help with color consistency when you are proofing straight off the printer.

TIP 2: Profiles play the most important role when trying to get the best optimal output of color. There are many different software’s available to accommodate profiling depending on your comfort level. If profiling is not your thing, then matching profiles within the software that you use or visiting the media manufacture’s website to download their recommended profiles will help to ease the color issues that we see when printing.

TIP 3: Printer maintenance is very important when matching color, profiling or even general printing. If your print heads are not firing right or your printer is not performing at its best, there is no way to have color consistency across the board. Whenever you plan to profile a media it is best practice to make sure you have completed all of your maintenance and calibrations prior to any color calibrations.

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