Causes of Print Results not Matching the Colors on the Computer

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Printer users certainly understand that the printer will not be able to produce prints with the exact colors displayed on the computer. Images may look good on the screen but sometimes they will be different when printed on paper. The colors will never match perfectly. Why does the print result not match the color on the computer? Here's the explanation.

Color on screen and Printout on paper

Causes of Print Results not Matching the Colors on the Computer

The image displayed on the computer monitor and produced by the printer adopts two different color sources, namely RGB & CMYK (as shown above). Color pixels on the screen can emit light while the printer cannot print light. Printers use the pigments in the ink to replicate colors

Computer screens are made up of many pixels where each pixel will represent more than 16 million colors. these colors are in the RGB gamut which contains all the colors in light.

In contrast, printers can only reproduce a number of only a few thousand colors due to absorption and reflection rules. The pigment will absorb the bright colors that are not used and then reflect the CMYK mixture so that it is closer to the original color. Most printouts will be slightly darker than the image displayed on the computer screen.

Why can the prints be different colors?

The principle is the number of colors in a certain color space. Color printers such as inkjet printers adopt cyan, magenta, yellow, and black cartridges. It is a traditional printing ink where the color is processed by combining the four colors of the ink. Using ink, the number of colors that can be made is reduced, more or less the maximum is only a few thousand different colors.

If we draw a circle on a piece of paper and then place a black dot in the center of the circle, you will understand why the color changes. A sheet of paper represents all visible and invisible colors such as ultraviolet, infrared, and x-rays. 

While the circle represents the RGB gamut. If we draw another circle inside the RGB circle then we will have a CMYK gamut.

Then when we move from the corner of the paper to the dot, it proves how the color shifts from invisible to a black hole which in this case is a black dot in the middle. As we move towards the dot, the color will become darker.

If we select red in the RGB color space and then move it to the CMYK color space, the red will be dark. RGB colors that are formed as CMYK colors will be drawn in proportion to the nearest CMYK color which is always darker. So the reason why the prints don't match the colors on the computer is because the printer can't print the light.

The first thing that might be a mistake is that the printed photo is of low quality. There is no problem with photos directly from your smartphone, but if they come from photos uploaded from Facebook or Instagram or WhatsApp, the quality may be reduced.

Because these social media sites will compress and reduce the uploaded images.

If you want to print photos, use original photos from your cellphone or camera. Not the version uploaded to Facebook or WhatsApp.

1. Set Monitor Screen Brightness

One very common problem with printed images is that the results are not bright enough. This is because the screen with the printed image is fundamentally different. The screen on the monitor displays images by emitting light, while the printed image reflects existing light.

Because the monitor screen is a light source, it makes the image on the monitor always appear brighter and the colors more vivid than on print. A bright screen can make an image appear bright, but not necessarily bright in the original file.

The accuracy of the colors displayed by the monitor also has an influence, poor monitor accuracy can cause color differences in the printed results. Therefore, it is important to use a monitor that has high color accuracy to ensure color consistency between the monitor display and the printed output.

Print high quality photos. It takes time to learn from mistakes to become better. Some things you can do:

  • Monitor color calibration, so that colors are more accurate.
  • Set screen brightness
  • Use histogram to edit, take better settings. You can use the Raw Therapy application.

2. Printer Settings

If everything is set up perfectly on the computer, but the Printer is not up to the job. Then it will be the same, you won't get a good print. To get perfect print results. You can set the driver and color profile appropriately.

Using careless ink (not suitable for the printer) can cause the color results on the print to not be as desired. Therefore, you need to use ink recommended by the printer manufacturer.

How to Get Good Print Results

You can use several general methods so that the printer can produce good and good prints.

  • Use high quality original Files.
  • Make sure the monitor is not too bright or too dim.
  • Perform monitor calibration.
  • Edit images using the Histogram application.
  • Look for a good and professional printer.
  • Perform mold testing and then correct problems/errors.

Other aspects affect the color of the printer printout

When we print at home using a desktop printer, there is no need to convert photos and graphics to CMYK color mode before printing. Various desktop printers will automatically complete the conversion.

The explanation above is only intended for the mechanism of 4 color printing using a printing press. The choice of paper and ink can also affect the quality of the original colors reproduced in the printout.

Searching for a combination of printer, paper, and ink settings may result in better color printouts. However, using a printer with ink recommended by the printer manufacturer often gives the best results.

Most graphics software is already equipped with color management settings. When the user uses the default settings provided by the software, the printouts are usually quite good in terms of color reproduction.


The RGB system can produce white when the three color elements are combined, however, it cannot produce black. On the other hand, color printers that use the CMYK system can produce black when the four main color elements are combined, however, they cannot produce white. Therefore, when carrying out the printing process, the colors produced on the printer cannot be 100% the same as the colors on the monitor screen.

In fact, even when designing, we can see a real difference in results, namely that the colors seen on the monitor are not the same as those printed on the printing machine. How to? Namely by converting the RGB file to CMYK in Photoshop. From there you will see quite a visible difference in color.

So, what can Erzedka friends do to make the colors of the monitor and printer as close as possible? One way is to use an ICC profile that matches the printer settings, ink and media used.

However, if you still have difficulty regarding the results of this printout, you can ask Erzedka directly, you know! Not only can we help you, but our reliable technical team will also provide solutions to all the printing problems you experience.

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