The Joy of Sample Printing

When it comes to getting your product to the market, you’ve got to move fast. Materials have been paid for, distribution deals have been negotiated, and customers are waiting. Once you’ve selected your packaging containers and designed artwork for your labels, the last thing on your list is calling up your label printer and placing your order. Technically that’s true, once you’ve designed the label and picked out your materials you could go ahead and buy all the labels you’ll need, but there is one last thing that could make your life a lot easier: getting a printed proof prior to finalizing the order. When launching a new product, waiting a couple of days and paying a few extra bucks is probably the last thing on your mind, but there are a few good reasons you should.


The first reason is the most apparent – making sure you are happy with the colors in your label’s design. As you may or may not know, the colors on your computer or cell phone screen have very little to do with printed colors. Colors on screens are backlit RGB (red, green, blue), so they can be very bright and vibrant. The colors you see in printed material are reflected light (the light of the environment bouncing off the paper) and they are CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). There are a lot of tools that let printers match these two different colors, but some colors are simply not possible on printed materials or require manual adjustments to achieve.

In addition, Pantone constantly releases new colors and recently they discontinued color builds (color builds are the percentages of the different color components required to recreate the Pantone color). This means that the printer has to use their eye to approximate the color. Often times a good printer can achieve this, but it is an approximation.

The judgment on what is the ‘correct’ color ultimately resides with you, the brand owner. If you are able to see exactly what the color will look like on press, you can prevent the possibility of ending up with an order of labels that are discolored. Sending physical color samples or pointed out specific Pantone colors in your designs definitely helps a printer reproduce the correct color, but ensuring they are correct with a press proof gives you complete confidence that the label’s colors will be exactly what you expect when you unpack your order.


Even if you have crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ in terms of your labels color, there is another very important factor that can impact the final look of the label: the material. Without planning for it, a vibrant, colorful design on a kraft paper or crème colored wine stock paper might end up darker than expected. This is especially apparent with black paper.

The background material has a significant impact on the printed color. This effect is usually mitigated by printing a layer of white behind the image to strengthen the refection of the light. There is a lot of judgment involved in determining when to use white ink and how much to use. Printing a press proof allows you to decide whether or not you want to use white to brighten the colors.

Some designers want the background material to affect the color. For instance, a designer might create an earthy label that uses a lot of mid tones that plays off of a kraft paper. In this case, the designer might not want to use white ink because they like the softer tone of the printing. The point being, if you are using a non-white material, a press proof allows you to see the material’s affect on the design without having to gamble on the entire order.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Finally, press proofs are useful to help you find problems you didn’t even think about. From misspellings to sizing issues to just plain old bad design decisions, seeing the real thing on the real material can remove a lot of the uncertainty. At Blue Label Packaging Company, we don’t customarily die cut samples (though we can for an additional fee) but we do superimpose the die line, so you can cut out the samples and affix them to your container. This allows for a prototype that looks almost exactly like the real thing.

There is a lot that can go wrong when printing a new label design for the first time. We’ve learned from our experience with thousands of packaging projects that the sooner you find a problem, the less costly it is to fix. Sample printing and press proofs are a cheap and easy way to catch the majority of issues. One of the benefits of being a completely digital workflow is that we can proof your design for a very small fee (currently $30). This gives you the assurance that the label you are ordering is exactly what you wanted.

If you’re interested in a sample printing give us a call and we’ll help you get started with the process.