Colour variance

Due to the 4 colour CMYK ink printing process, the variety of paper types and laminations, as well as digital and litho print set ups, there can be variations in colour.


Because printing is done in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) and uses a blend of 4 colours of ink, printed products are subject to small degrees of colour variance.

This means that some colours may look slightly different when printed on paper at the start of a large print run, compared to examples from the end of the print run. In addition, these differences may be even more noticeable between print runs.

For this reason, there are a number of recommended CMYK values to help minimise colour variance.

Suggested CMYK values

We do our best to keep colour variation to a minimum. Consequently, however, we cannot always colour match against work from other printers.

Examples of slight colour variations in printing
Example 1 of slight colour variance Example 2 of slight colour variance

Digital vs litho

Digital and litho printing presses produce slightly different colours. An industry scale digital printer is like a giant office printer that’s ideal for small print runs; while a litho printer uses wet ink and metal plates pressed down onto the paper, and is more efficient for large print runs. Although they both use CMYK inks, since these are two very different manufacturing processes there will be some variation between the two methods.

A litho press, however, is able to reproduce colours more consistently than a digital press throughout the entire print run. For more information on the difference between these two printing methods, please click the link below.

Digital vs Litho printing

Note the very slight colour differences between digital printing and litho printing
Booklet cover printed on a digital and litho press

Paper types

If you print the same design on both silk and uncoated paper, there will be some colour variation because of the different way each paper type holds and absorbs the CMYK ink.

We recommend silk paper for the most accurate colour reproduction, while gloss tends to increase hue saturation and uncoated or recycled paper darkens and desaturates the final colour.

Please bear these qualities in mind when choosing which paper to print on, especially as uncoated papers have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Read our guide to paper

Leaflet printed on silk, uncoated, and gloss paper


In a similar fashion to paper types, laminated finishes can effect the final colour of your printed project.

For example, we’ve found that silk paper with a matt lamination is the most common choice for cover papers because matt lamination reduces shine. Matt lamination, moreover, can desaturate colours slightly and even apply a slight coloured tint. Similarly – as is the case with gloss paper – a gloss laminate enhances colour saturation while applying an extra shiny coating to your cover paper.

Read our guide to finishes

Booklet cover with matt and gloss lamination
Ready to get started?