January 4, 2023

5 Reasons Your Digital Print Fabrics Aren’t the Correct Color

5 Reasons Your Digital Print Fabrics Aren’t the Correct Color-01

You have created another perfect print in your digital print fabrics line. The artwork is gorgeous. Your customer will LOVE it, sales on your print designs will go through the roof, and you’ll stay on the fast track for that promotion.

Except when the 1st apparel print strike-off comes back from the printer, it will look nothing like YOUR print. And we told you so because there are five main reasons your digital print isn’t the correct color.

Digital printing is quickly becoming the preferred method over screen printing, but there are some precise ways to produce these fabrics to get what you want.

Read on to find out why your digital print fabrics aren’t the correct color and how to avoid that costly mistake.

Your printer-paper-ink digital printing workflow where artwork is printed is not profiled as a total system, so your output colors look nothing like your color standards.

You created and printed fabulous transfer paper CAD designs to send to the digital printing company using a high-quality wide-format digital printer.

You even have an ICC profile for your paper and ink. Digital fabric printing was carried out using cutting-edge fabric printing technology, so everything should match perfectly.

So why don’t the colors you print look like your color standards?

There is more going on here than just the difference between a color’s appearance on paper and that same color’s appearance on fabric after fabric printing.

If you have never heard of “workflow profiling,” or you have but your output colors still look nothing like your standards, do yourself a favor and research ONYX RIP software and color management (No I’m not paid by ONYX, I’ve just had great results using them).

Check out these references from ONYX that explain the concept of color management for printing.

Do your homework and use a hand-held spectrophotometer to measure the colors in your color palette. Your RIP software can even match a color standard when that color is specified on the artwork, but you have to do it on purpose.

Correct color doesn’t just happen because you found an ICC profile for your ink and paper. Again, ONYX can help with this.

You named colors in your print design that don’t exist.

I know you have to have colors on the print that tie your standard colors together, and sometimes those colors are not on your color palette. And that wouldn’t be a problem, except that:

You think EVERY color on the artwork is “print critical.” All 25 of them.

I know that every print can have multiple shades in it so that the shades blend into each other, but do everyone a favor and call out the “Print Critical” colors on the initial artwork so the factory knows ahead of time which colors have to match within your color tolerance.

If you have to change your artwork details, you can communicate upfront which 6-8 colors are print critical. The print house can start on color windows for those colors while you finalize the artwork.

I know, I know. Artists HATE to admit that one color on a print is less important than another.

Still, I’ve seen this play out time and again. When every color in your print is “critical,” nothing is executed to tolerance, and you have to accept something that looks horrific because you’re out of time.

Make it more manageable from the start and make the final result closer to what you intended by prioritizing your print colors.

Your print design department is overloaded so the artwork sent to the factory is incorrect.

Put a system of checks and balances in place so that no artwork gets sent to the factory with the wrong file type, incorrect resolution, etc.

Get a “process person” to spend time in the art department for a day or so and get that painful “left-brain” process out of the way. I’ve seen too many times when an artist sends the artwork to the factory and the strike-off came back wrong.

At first glance, it looks like an execution error at the factory, but upon further investigation, you realize the art department sent the file with the wrong resolution. Weeks were lost on digital fabric printing because the wrong button was clicked.

Get a process in place once and for all, so your artists can do what they do best: create beautiful artwork that makes tons of money.

The digital strike-off is outsourced to a different factory than your production printer, and they don’t have your color standards.

Worse yet, they may not think they NEED your color standards. Your print house uses a digital printer to get your strike-offs back to you in record time (speedy strike-offs are great), but the digital printer doesn’t have your color standards.

Therefore, they are just matching the colors on your artwork (which we already discussed are probably not even close to your color standards) at best, and eyeballing it at worst.

This is where you need your materials and sourcing teams’ help to identify those printers that outsource digital strike-offs so the print house can send them full-sized swatches of the necessary standards.

Many companies use digital strike-offs to quickly get print options in designers’ hands, and sometimes they are OK with the colors not matching their color standards.

So if your digital strike-off needs to match your company’s color standards, don’t assume the digital printer knows that.


When it comes to print design, the devil is in the details. By carefully managing artwork processes, you can ensure that your prints are executed with precision and accuracy.

Furthermore, don’t forget about color standards – make sure digital printers understand which colors need to be matched for a successful strike-off process.

These tips will help you create beautiful designs that effectively communicate your message while maximizing sales potential. With careful planning and implementation of best practices, there’s no limit to what kind of success you can achieve!

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