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How many times have you tried to explain how colour works in graphic design to a client and failed miserably? Well, you're not alone. I've had my fair share of moments. So how do you quickly and clearly explain the colour process to a client?
From the Client's View
It's easier to think of the situation from your client's point of view - they only want to hear what they need to know. A full theory on colour isn't going to interest, or help, them. So, establish what medium you'll be producing in first - digital or print. For the purposes of this article I'm going to assume you are doing a print job.
The next question that needs to be answered is what type of paper you'll be working with. One colour will look significantly different on three varying types of paper. Generally, paper is divided into three types: coated, uncoated and matte.
The best way to illustrate the differences is with the Pantone swatch books. I use the Colour Bridge sets because they pair a PMS colour to the closest CMYK combination (and also list RGB and HTML). You can get swatch books for coated, uncoated and matte papers.
PMS vs. CMYK
If your client wants to print with both PMS and CMYK - then things can get a little tricky. They will probably find it hard to understand why the colours are so different. A good way to break it down is by explaining that PMS is one ink while CMYK is a combination of 4 inks to create a similar colour.
Printing on coated paper will be the brightest, followed by matte paper and uncoated paper being the dullest. Take all your swatch books with you to meetings to show your client the differences, and help them to pick the best combinations.
Computer Monitors & Home/Office Printers
Another issue that will likely crop up is why the design looks different on their computer monitor, or on the proof they've printed off at their office. Colour will look different from one monitor to another depending on their calibration. Every printed produces different results. The only way to get an accurate indication is with a proof from your printer.
Have any suggestions you think are helpful? Drop it in a comment!