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A digression on colour..Ai, PNG and PDF

Having designed and coloured the first few Art-Maps the next stage was to talk to companies capable of printing what I wanted. The process of making the art is long and time consuming. I thought the next bit would be straightforward.

Naively I assumed that I made the art and then gave it to someone else to print. This is not the case!

I have had a lot of help from a very talented local graphic designer called Claire Barnett. She has taught me how to get the effects I wanted, and has patiently explained to me what I can and can’t do.

Now to me, and I suspect a lot of people colours are black and white, red, green, blue, yellow etc. ‘Mauve, puce and mink’ are names that mean little to me whereas purplish, reddy brown and pinky grey, may be less specific but I can picture the colour. The colour ‘Trout’ just makes me think of an old primary school teacher I had in the 1970’s. The ceiling in my study isn’t white, it’s ‘Timeless White’ – it looks white to me and I’m hoping ‘timeless’ indicates the period until it next needs recoating. In the printing industry my way of thinking is not used, and may be called vague- ( I bet this is also a name for a colour used by interior designers). Anyway, I digress again…

Apparently, the colour you see and the colour that then is printed can be very different. One has to be careful to make sure that the art is saved in two or three different formats so that the colours you want, and the colour the printer produces, are the same.

Hence the need to save one’s art in several different formats- Ai is adobe illustrator and the original, PNG is Portable Network Graphics and PDF is Portable Document Format. PDF is what a lot of printers use to proof copy, so if this looks wrong, they can go back to the other two formats to check what the colour was intended to be.

The colour you see on the art on my website is reproduced from a jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group). There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it is a lower resolution picture as the original is very high definition and means that it would not be practical to reproduce on a webpage. Secondly, if it were possible to reproduce on the website in high definition then anyone could print off my work without paying!

The colour of the printed product is as close as possible to the original Ai file. There may be very slight differences due to the printing process and the paper used to print upon. Any differences will be tiny due to the time taken to proof all copies.

So a lesson learned. One can make and produce art in all sorts of ways but there has to be a method that is uniform if you want to reproduce that art in a different medium.


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