FAQ > Q: Why are my prints Darker than expected?

Q: Why are my prints Darker than expected?




A few questions:

Are you using a calibrated monitor?

Please check the brightness settings on your monitor, and check if it's turned up to brightest setting. 

The common issue with printing is “screen to print match” in that the computer monitors show brighter than the print when the are set on full brightness. 

In most instances having the monitor set at approx 2/3 brightness gives the best representation of what the print will look like. Today’s iPads, and computer monitors with retina displays show punchy colors and intensity not showing the same in print.  On the Apple machines we suggest using a brightness setting between 1/2 to 2/3 of its brightest setting. This is most easily set by using the function keys at the top of your keyboard. Using the tick settings to set the value in that range. On the iPad, using the slider in a similar way. 

Calibrated monitors are certainly the best way to go, but the above will get you close and if used the same way each time will render consistent and predictable screen to print match. 

Our service is preflighted, meaning we do not make adjustments to the files.  The customer is in charge of preparing the file in terms of color and density. 

If you let us know how you are preparing/editing your files we can make suggestions as to what needs to be done and how.

Place your order as usual, put message in the comments section "please contact me for help".   Then email us (provide order number if applicable) mail@lightboxinc.com.    We will then review your file and get back to you before we print (this will add a day or so to your turn around).  If we conclude your file needs changes, we will have you upload a new version to your account and access it from there to use the new file for printing (be sure to name your file a distinct name for use to differentiate. Better yet, delete the file you are replacing from your account...



Screen to Print Matching

After you receive your order, its good to double check prints against what your see on your screen in your working environment and take notes so we can help you set up your workspace/work station for repeatable results:

1.  Look at the prints and adjust the brightness of your device as mentioned above to the point where the monitor settings best represent the prints. You will see that when you turn down the brightness, the contrast and saturation will be reduce and look more like the print. The monitor at first glance will look not nearly as crisp or intense, but it will look a lot more like your print. 

2. Now set the prints aside. Adjust your image within photoshop (or any preferred utility you are using. Get the print looking as close to what the print is showing you. 

This setting of your equipment should become your working standard in making ready to print files.  It seems like a lot of trouble but will become simple as time goes on. As long as you use the same settings each time you are preparing files, the outcome will be consistent.  This is not a highly technical workflow as nothing is a substitute for truly calibrated systems, but this method works for many people.


If you are using photoshop to prepare files, we can suggest some numeric values such as white point and black points to look for.  Some clients create an adjustment layer that they apply to images that compensates for the above by simply dragging and dropping this layer on each file prior to sending to us. 


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