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What is a digital proof?

Below are some facts and types of "digital" proofing services compared against each other, as well as "physical" proofing and "color" proofing.

Self Proofing - The first and easiest way of "proofing" files before sending them off or uploading them anywhere for printing is to self examine them on your end before exporting them from whatever design software you are using. This is a standard process to ensure spelling errors are not present or that you did not miss something in your layout, like a picture off centered or forgetting to add a phone number to a design or any other items important to your piece. Similar to when you were in 8th grade and you glanced over your school report before handing it in to a teacher for test grading. Print companies do not look to spell check for you or confirm the layout you intend for it. This is solely your responsibility, similar to writing a school report to a teacher when you were in school. Some clients wish to see what their artwork looks like without full bleed crop marks. This can be achieved by simply cropping to size on your end using the software you created the files in or we can do it for you with a paid proofing service if you do not have the capability to.
Free Shopping Cart Proofing - Proofing a file in a shopping cart of a printing companies website is typically meant to ensure that you did in fact upload the right files to the correct front and back (or inside/cover pages). This process is in no way a representation of how your colors will be printed because a computer screen displays fewer colors than a $3 million dollar print machine. This process is only a way to see that you did load the right files and not a picture of you on vacation by mistake. Color proofing is another process discussed below.
Paid Proofing Assistance -

A paid proof which is offered by, is a service where you are presented the option to have a professional, human graphic designer examine the technical aspects of your artwork that you are unsure of. We understand that not everyone is educated in print and design specification needed for production so we offer a paid proof service where you can have a pro proof everything for you.

What is proofed in this paid service is only the technical aspects such as "bleed" (to ensure proper borderless print without stretching or losing quality), Proper CMYK color mode settings (color proofing discussed below in "color proofing process"), resolution of 300 dpi (the resolution needed for a flawless print job), crop mark safe zones (to ensure your text or logos will not cut off the paper due to improper placement), and finally centering issues (typically an issue on brochures with folding panels). If any of these issues are present, our designers will help fix these and then email you back a revised version for your approval. We of course cannot print something that has been edited without your approval but if your document is found to be perfect, it then goes straight to print without emailing you a proof. If a document does not need revising, there will be nothing new to show you that you have not seen during your "Self Proofing" process.

Physical In-Hand Proof - In certain cases physical in-hand proofs are needed only to see what text, images or logo sizes will look like in real life. This process is never intended to predict colors, just sizing to get an idea in real life if you need to increase text size bigger or smaller, something a computer screen makes difficult to predict. Usually, a physical 100% scale proof can be printed on your home or office print machine. Colors will not be accurate but the scale of text and images will be. Predicting colors off of a physical proof is a very immaculate way to judge colors and the reason for that is because a single copy physical proof is printed on a low quality digital format machine which can vary from print to print. With digital print methods and machines, the benefit is that you just click the print button and one copy comes out. This is a copy machine and not a high-end printing press. You should only want a physical proof for the purpose of seeing logo, text or a pictures true size. For color proofing and matching please read next topic below.
Color Proofing Process -

One of the most common issues print customers are surprised with when their products arrive or that we personally hear is, "Our colors do not match what we see on our computer screen." There are 2 professional ways to color proof and color match artwork. The most 99.9% accurate way is by using physical color swatch samples found in graphic designer and print designer color booklets. If you have ever visits the paint isle at Home Depot or Lowe's you have seen the thousands of paper color samples they have on display for you to shop from. Each of those has a code or serial number assigned to it which tells the computer system what recipe of colors to blend together to achieve that color. In the print industry, it is the same way.

Also, lighting drastically changes the shading of the color you are looking at. If you are in a room with LED bulb lighting, halogen, incandescent or any other types, you will see a different shade of color on your paper. This truly is a science and your eyes can indeed play tricks on you. Many of our clients say that, "The color on my computer is not what you sent me, your printing is terrible, i want a refund." We truly understand this response from the few who have not had a chance to understand all of the above color picking ways and although at times you may be disappointed in your coloring, we assure you it is a 99% match to what color codes are in your artwork. We use the worlds state-of-the-art Heidelberg print presses which span the length of 2 school buses and cost $3 million dollars. These machines do not make color errors and should never ever be compared to your printing machine at home.

Picking colors from a computer screen is approximately 70% accurate. The remaining 30% will be you selecting colors blindly and the reason for this is because each computer and computer screen is different. Your monitor may have different brightness, contrast or color settings that the other. Your computer might have a better or worse video card that does or does not do a good job of displaying accurate colors. If you have a cheap monitor it too will display untrue colors. This is why all professional designers bypass all those issues by selecting from a color swatch book to see real color results that provide a CMYK color code.




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