The terms colour proofs or press proofs are used to describe any physical or virtual document whose purpose is to verify some aspect of a printed piece of work prior to the actual printing of the job.

While it is also possible to obtain colour proofs without physical support, i.e. on screen (soft proofs), in this post we will focus on printed proofs (hard proofs).

Are all printing proofs colour proofs?

Depending on their purpose, we distinguish two main types of printing proofs:

  • Layout Proofs: Their purpose is to verify that the layout is correct, that is, “that everything is where it should be and as it should be”: placement of texts and images, showing the appropriate fonts with the desired characteristics (sizes, line spacing, etc.).
  • Colour Proofs: They are made to obtain an accurate approximation of the colours that will be obtained when printing the work.
Colour Proofs

Why are color proofs necessary?

Fidelity in colour reproduction is essential in any professional commercial printing work.

Given that it is a “factor” that can influence the sales of the product being promoted, or that can affect the recognition of a brand (hence corporate colours), colour management is a critical aspect that every designer working with printers should know how to manage. And colour proofs are one more aspect of colour management.

In an ideal world, the colours we see on our monitors would correspond to those printed on paper, but we are not in that world… there are many factors that cause the colours we see on the screen to not match the printed result, the main one being that monitors use additive colours (RGB color space) to provide colour to the pixels that make up the screen, while the printed result is achieved using subtractive colours (CMYK color space).

Types of colour proofs

Press proofs

In the field of offset printing, press proofs are those that are made with a printing press (ideally the same one that will subsequently print the entire run), so the reliability is therefore very high since the conditions of the proof are the same or very similar to those of the run (printing procedure, paper, etc.).

The main drawback is that its cost is very high, since plates have to be prepared and the offset machine has to be set up as if it were a real run.

Analog colour proofs

Historically, analog proofs were the first to be made without printing presses and were produced from separations (photolithographs). They could be made on standard paper or on the actual paper of the order to be printed.

We speak in the past because although they were quite reliable, with the widespread use of Computer-to-Plate (CtP) technology and therefore the end of the need to obtain photoliths, this type of proof fell into disuse.

The best-known proofing systems in our country were MatchPrint and Cromalin colour proofs.

Digital colour proofs

CtP technology, together with the generalization of digital printing systems, has extended the use of digital colour proofs. A digital colour proof is nothing more than a print out from a computer file, made using a dedicated digital printer (although it is also possible to print a proof with the same digital printer that will later make the complete print run).

As in the case of analog proofs, they can be made on special standardized papers, or on the actual paper of the print run. Nowadays, digital colour proofs can be produced using various technologies, the most important being laser, inkjet and sublimation.

How we manage colour and layout proofing at Cevagraf

At Cevagraf, we offer the two types of proofing mentioned at the beginning of the article: layout proofs and colour proofs.

For job approval, we require the client’s review and approval of a PDF file located in our proof management system Insite Prepress. However, if the client needs to see a printed proof, we usually print a layout proof (“plotter”) at no additional cost.

For the plotter, the paper and ink are not the real ones and it is delivered without binding. The plotter is printed at very high quality and its purpose is for the client to get a general idea of what the document will look like, so they can review it and check if more changes need to be made. To request it, a firm order must be placed and the plotter must be requested in it.

As for colour proofs, we offer Cromalin digital contract proofs. If the client wants a colour proof, the order must also be placed, and a colour proof (or more) must be requested in it.

Colour proofs are made on a special proofing paper, not on the real paper, and have a cost of €10/page (A4) or €12/page (A3). If the client wants colour proofs on real paper, there is an additional extra cost that is usually around €35 for an A4 page. (VAT must be included in all cases).

Hopefully we’ve cleared up the colour proofing issue a bit!

And if you’re curious, check out this article about print proofing.

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