Illustrator Design Not Printing Correctly


I mostly work with digital design. Recently I decided to get a few of my poster designs printed for my own collection. I used a professional printing company to order the prints and send them the JPEGs as requested.

The prints however are radically different from what I'm seeing on screen. I have set the document in Illustrator to be European General Purpose 3 as I'm in the UK and I'm using CMYK colours and exporting using the Export For Web... option as this is the only way I knew to get JPEGs.

The first prints I received were much lighter than designed but when I contacted the company that said they were aware of a batch of prints that had colour correction wrongly applied to them and they would send me out replacements. I received the replacements and they are now a bit darker than designed.

I actually prefer the printed (darker) version of the print than the on screen version but it bothers me that they are so radically different and worries me that if I design something else I may not like the printed result.

Below are the three versions. I scanned the prints so obviously that will have changed things slightly but you can still see that stark differences.

Prints with incorrect colour

The PRINTED (NO CORRECTION) is the one I prefer but it's still fairly different from the ORIGINAL DIGITAL.

9/13/2015 6:07:00 PM

PDF is the standard format for print these days, especially PDF/X; you can export a PDF directly from Illustrator. Also, while you set your document to CMYK, save for web will create RGB JPGs.

For something like your design you can go a step further by specifying Pantone colours (assuming you have access to a Pantone book for reference). These enables you to match your colours to real printed swatches, rather than trying to eyeball a colour on screen. Colour is very subjective; you can't really say that the file didn't print 'correctly' unless you've specified particular Pantones or CMYK breakdowns. Screens don't present colours the same way as print, nor are do all screens present colours equally. Trying to make colour choices for print solely by looking at a screen is asking for trouble.

9/13/2015 6:21:00 PM