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Printable colour schemes in b+w

Hi there,
I am designing some reports using colourful charts that will ultimately be printed.

However, I am not sure that the reports will be printed to a colour printer all of the time.  As a result I need to be careful about colour choices so that chart segements are identifiable when printed in black and white and look good in when displayed and printed in colour.

I am reluctant to use cross hatches as these are ugly compared to using colour.  Would appreciate any pointers to a viable approach to this problem.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
You could work backwards.  Since the colors will end up turning into gray start with shades of gray.  For example if you will have four color start with four shades of gray.  Make sure that each shade of gray is distinguisable from the others.  Then to get colors adjust the hue and saturation, without adjusting the value  However with most color models this won't exactly work, because green is brigher than blue for example.  So then do a printout in grayscale and then adjust value to compensate.
Tom C
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Is this a web application?

If not you might be able to detect the printer characteristics and adjust your shading accordingly.

You might also consider offering a monochrome option for printing anyway, since color printing is expensive compared to B + W.

At least on the HP inkjets, the cyan/magenta/yellow inks are about twice as expensive as the black ink.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Also important to consider:

Most low-end consumer inkjet printers use the RGB color model (or, more accurately, RGBK), while more high-end printers use CMYK.

Extremely expensive printers sometimes use hexachrome to get really vibrant orange and green colors, but you certainly won't be targeting those printers, since they're expensive to buy and operate, and the only people who use them are professional graphic designers.

Try to find a few printers you can test on. Print sample sheets using at least one greyscale printer, at least one GRB printer, and at least one CMYK printer.

I suspect your full-color graphics (in either RGB or CMYK) will use lower-contrast, medium saturation colors, since they're more eye-pleasing when juxtaposed against one another. In greyscale mode, you'll probably need higher contrast.

Just a hunch, though.

Trial and error will probably teach you exactly what you need to know as far as viable color schemes are concerned.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Thursday, September 20, 2007
You should look at the luminance or brighness value (the B in HSB) of each colour and ensure that there is a 20% difference between adjacent colours. This is a good starting point for average B&W laser printing. And now a plug: If you need to check those colors' luminance's then use our demo:
JSD Send private email
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Is this really a concern anymore? Most of the new laser printers do gray-scaling pretty well from what I've seen.

I'd go with whatever colors you want (within reason) then try them out a few b/w printers just to make sure they look ok.
Zach M. Send private email
Thursday, September 20, 2007
"Most low-end consumer inkjet printers use the RGB color model (or, more accurately, RGBK), while more high-end printers use CMYK."

Off-topic, but ... Wrong!

Additive primary schemes (RGB) are for light-based color display, such as projectors.  You can't make yellow from any combination of red, green or blue dyes (or pigments) by printing on a white piece of paper.

Color printers, regardless of the cost of the printer, all use the subtractive primary color scheme, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and "key" or black).
Karl Perry Send private email
Thursday, September 20, 2007
"Off-topic, but ... Wrong!"

Yeah, I'm an idiot.

In the back of my mind, I have always known that RGB is only *possible* with light.

I think the reason I got confused is because most low end inkjets only accept data in RGB format. They then perform CMYK conversion in firmware before printing.

Sorry for the misinformation. Try not to pay too much attention to me.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thanks very much for your input.

To be honest I was looking for a relatively painless way to do this because I figure it comes up a lot. Not all those pretty charts we see on the web are going to be printed to colour printer.

I had fired up Excel, generated a chart with 20 series and used their rgb values to create my colour scheme but found they did not print so good on a b+w printer.

I like JSD's luminance idea. Will look into that.

Thanks again.
Friday, September 21, 2007

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