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Document & Visualize forum

Printing the colors you see on your screen

Not applicable
We have a RICOH Aficio Printer, and a Large format HP Design Jet 4500 printer.

Both of our printer companies' answer to my question " How can I make what I see on my screen be what comes out of the printer?" is "you can't"

that is really lame.
So, what ever, we'll have to deal.
But, how do you guys deal?

Our Ricoh is pretty close, but, not on.
And our HP- forget it. It is almost never even close, after about a hundred feet of paper and lots of ink, we can get an almost acceptable print on High gloss photo paper, and matte photo paper.

I was thinking i could set monitor settings for each time I want to print from a different printer. I mean- make a print- then hold it up to my monitor and adjust the settings so they match the print. But, that did not work.

HOW?! Seems I should totally be able to design something on my computer and print the same thing. When I make a brown house I want to print a brown house, not a red house, or a brown house with a green tint, or a grey house with a brown tint, or an orange house, I dont want a yellow background (Wich I assume is the sun from the rendering, which I have decided just to photo shop out) etc...

Thomas Holm
You need BOTH a good screen AND a good printer. If you want you output cosistent with screen colors. I've got an eizo Flexscan S2410W which I find excellent, even though it's not their hardware-calibrating screen. It has an SRGB mode which works well and is fine for printer calibrating.

Our printer is a KonicaMinolta Bizhub C352 A3 multi-function with a Fiery RIP for true Postscript. I would say true Adobe Postscript is needed in the printer for consistent color output. If somebody offers you "Postscript emulation", just refuse - I haven't seen one good solution.

But be prepared to do some work yourself. After our supplier's "calibration expert" had been here for a day, everything printed was pink! I had to spend two full days working with the thing myself to get good consistent results. Their software isn't the easiest to use, but if you assume non-profiled print files from most applications, and calibrate for SRGB, it will give you good results in the majority of cases.
Now the printer's output is excellent! The hardware is very good. (And it gives me good A3 pdf scans as well)

(BTW if you think otherwise, we paid full price for the thing)
AC4.1-AC24SWE-25INT; OSX11.5; MP5,1+MBP16,1

Laura Yanoviak
This really isn't something that's controllable from within AC, is it?
MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz Intel Core i9, 32 GB of RAM

AC25 US (3011) AC24 on Mac OS Catalina 10.15.7

That is outrageously bad.

OF course, you ARE working on PC that doesn't control color or display gamma correctly. There must be a software solution for you that interfaces between display and printer.

For instance, I'm working on Mac with an Epson 3800 large format color printer and it is "spot on" as the British say - printing from Photoshop with no special calibration. We've just done a big photography exhibition and only two prints failed to match, mainly due to black levels, not color - that's a display interpretation problem because displays bias to black.

The Epson would be a perfect printer except that when printing Archicad layouts, it randomly fails to produce text. You'll be printing three copies and copy number two will have no notes. AAAArgh!!! If it wasn't so heavy I would throw it out the window.

Teasing aside, Archicad is very bad when it outputs color because it doesn't appear to conform to recognized "color spaces." Not so bad with photorenderings but extreme when printing with pen colors on elevation fills.

Archicad images always have too much black - this interferes with vibrancy when printing on paper.

Calibration for reliability not only includes display and printer calibration, but also an adherence to a specific color mode or space. You only get into a reliable color space through Photoshop. Printing directly from an image file is always flawed. There is a system called "Postscript" that we use in book publishing. When I make a book layout, I export it to the offset printing house using the specific postscript driver for their equipment. The "LightWorks in Archicad" book came through without any problems.

However, even the most closely calibrated systems can't totally reproduce what is on the display. A display shows brighter color because it glows. Ink on paper is always subdued, except perhaps for the failed hexachrome system that used glowing ink. But brown for red is pretty bad.
Dwight Atkinson

Karl Ottenstein
I've moved this thread out of the wish section, as color workflow is not something that can be addressed by ArchiCAD. It is something that can be and should be addressed through proper system setup tbough.

No computer system, even a Mac, comes with proper color profiles to achieve a match between screen and printer (or scanner). It is simply not possible for any profiles to be valid for any extended length of time. In addition, monitor and printer profiles are only valid for particular lighting in the viewing environment. Whatever the type of monitor, the colors that the monitor generates change over time for a variety of chemical/mechanical reasons. Ditto a scanner. Printers are a bit more stable because of the nature of ink... however the same ink will produce different colors on different papers and so a different profile is required for each paper type.

Further, the color gamut (range of colors) that can be displayed varies with each technology and there is not a complete overlap. (Hence the 'out of gamut' option when print previewing in Photoshop, since monitors can generally display a much wider color gamut than even 8 ink printers.)

You can, however, get very close to satisfactory results by color calibrating your monitor and creating appropriate printer and scanner profiles. If your monitor is color calibrated and your client's is too - you should both see the same image. Without calibration, there's no telling what your client will see.

ColorVision's Spyder line provides a mechanism for creating a calibrated monitor profile, and more:
(This is just one manufacturer, but since I have one that I've used to calibrate my Mac and PC desktops and PC laptop, I mention it. I have dual monitors on each desktop machine, and neither is the same manufacturer: the Mac has an Apple primary and a no-name secondary. PC has a Viewsonic and a Dell. Colors between the two monitors were not even close until each had a proper profile created.)

Trying to create a color profile with the Adobe Gamma miniapp is doomed to a poor approximation at best. I could never get my two monitors to match (so that an image dragged to span each had colors matching).

A spyder can be as cheap as $54 for monitor-only calibration:
(Presumably the software is not as full featured as the more expensive bundles.)

I have the Spyder2 Pro ($171)... which only creates accurate monitor profiles - printer profiles are a print, adjust, repeat affair. I was not happy with the primitive printer profiling capabilities of the 'Pro' bundle. (The high end package lets you scan the printout to adjust the printer profile.)

Without a color-calibrated monitor, all time spent in Photoshop, or in creating custom textures in Artlantis, etc., is potentially wasted as you really do not know what colors are really stored in your file.

Here are some other links that might be helpful:

One of the forum moderators   •   AC 26 USA and earlier   •   macOS Ventura 13.2, iMac Pro 10-Core, Radeon Pro Vega 64

Karl wrote:
You can, however, get very close to satisfactory results by color calibrating your monitor and creating appropriate printer and scanner profiles.
I understand nothing about all this so I send a file with some awesome-looking sheets to some printing service and they look like mud, I send the same sheets to some other service and they look like Picasso in his blue period, I send the same sheets to the same service the next day and they look like Picasso in his red period. (I print them at home and they look consistently beautiful.)

So there actually is a way I could produce a printing-service-specific, or printer-specific, profile, whatever that is, that would allow me to get consistent results with an ArchiCAD layout PDF having both ArchiCAD drawings and TIFF/JPEG/Photoshop renderings?

Thomas Holm
Yes you can. It will cost you time and money though.
The cheapest way to get close to what you want is to do an agreement with one of your service bureaus. Use a fairly complex color image, representative of what you want, make it look fine on screen, print it at home to the result you want, then send the file and the print-out to the service bureau, tell them this is how you want it to look and ask them to make a personal profile for you to get that look when they print image files from you.
As settings may drift, you may have to repeat this process a couple of times each year, but I think it's the cheapest way to get control over your printouts.
AC4.1-AC24SWE-25INT; OSX11.5; MP5,1+MBP16,1

Not applicable
this is supposed to be the solution... it collaborates with the printer and adjust gamma due to the light intensity in room... i know that graphic designers are into this one

Thomas Holm
The Eizo Coloredge series is absolutely one of the best if you need hardware calibrated screens. But it's very expensive, and it's not the solution, just part of it.

For my more modest requirements, (I don't need to measure consistent crominance values from my output, I just need it to be predictable from my screen and to look good) I find my Eizo Flexscan is quite good too - what sets it apart from the pack is it's background lighting - much higher quality that most. ALong with an agreement with your print shop and a personal color profile, it will get you a long way fairly cost-effective.
AC4.1-AC24SWE-25INT; OSX11.5; MP5,1+MBP16,1

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