Out of gamut colors

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Why do my colors look different in my printed Blurb book?

Blurb's print presses use a mix of four ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, also known as CMYK). This combination of ink colors allows us to reproduce a wide range of colors in your printed book, and most colors print just fine.

However, there are certain shades of colors that can't be reproduced using a CMYK press. Those include certain vivid, saturated colors, such as bright purple, hot pink, fluorescent colors, and neon colors. 

These colors might look vivid on screen, but when printed, they may shift to less-vivid and more subdued colors as in the example below. These colors are considered "out of gamut", which simply means our CMYK presses can't reproduce them. This isn't considered a print defect as it's ultimately a limitation of the CMYK print process.

Do color shifts only affect photos?

No. This color shift can occur anywhere you have out of gamut colors, whether that color is in your photos, background color or text color.

What can you do about out of gamut colors?

It's impossible to force the print press to print a color that's out of gamut--the printed result won't look as vivid. If you think any of your colors might be out of gamut, consider these tips and recommendations:

  • In BookWright, you can use the soft-proofing feature to anticipate any potential color shifts. Soft-proofing still won't let you print the same vivid color but you'll be able to see which colors might shift when printed.
  • When selecting a background color or text color, try to avoid highly saturated colors, fluorescents, or neon colors. (And if you use them, be aware that they may look less vivid in print).
  • Consider slightly lightening your images. This still won't let you print out of gamut colors in their full vividness, but most images can benefit from a bit of brightening. That way you can avoid dark images and your colors may look a bit brighter in the printed book. 
  • Always order and review  a single proof copy before you order multiple copies at once or make it available for sale to others. A proof copy is just a single Blurb-printed copy of your book. That way you can see any potential color shifts (and also catch overlooked typos, blurry images, or other issues related to the content of your book).
  • If you own Adobe® Photoshop® and are wiling to invest in the time and hardware required to properly calibrate a monitor, you can learn about color management and set up a color managed workflow to soft proof your images. However, that's not feasible for most people as it requires tools the average person may not have. 

Remember that most colors print just fine. Keep in mind that certain vivid colors may look a bit duller in print, and consider slightly brightening your images so they're not as dark overall.


Here's the original image with a vivid, out of gamut blue sky.


This is what the image may look like in print.




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