Know Your Output Device

June 25, 2009

It is a common complaint. Users are frustrated at the colors they get from their printer. Understanding color management is definitely an important part of the process and something every user needs to understand. Before you can set up color management, you have to know more about your output device. For the sake of this post, I’m color to call them all printers though we could be referring to a laser engraver, a vinyl cutter or some other method.

First it is important to know if the device works with PostScript. Go to the Print dialog box in CorelDRAW. Do you see a tab labeled PostScript? If so, you are printing to a PostScript printer. If you don’t see it, it is a non-PostScript device. A basic distinction that makes a big difference in how you design your files.

I realize that you probably have CMYK inks in your printer, but if it isn’t a PostScript device then Windows will send it RGB data. If you design your file using CMYK colors, Windows will convert it to RGB and then the printer will convert it back to CMYK. See a problem? To get the best looking output, you need to design in RGB! Also keep in mind that many printers have even more colors of ink. To get the most out of all those extra colors, you still want to design in RGB. This allows the printer to use the extra inks to get the widest range of colors.

Only when you will be printing to a PostScript printer do you want to design in CMYK. Now if you’ve set up your color management properly, you can still design in RGB and allow CorelDRAW to do the conversion to CMYK when you print.

This is a major part of your printer’s capabilities, but you should also get to know all of the other settings. The more you know, the better you can design files to take advantage of everything your printer can do.

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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