SKT III Production Status: More Test Prints

Eeks. RGB to CMYK conversion was not the issue. In my previous post on this matter, I showed you the digital files I converted from the RGB to CMYK. This is now the test print of what the conversion to CMYK looks like.

Fun tip: since I’m ordering this deck to check color, I tried to optimize my resources and time by printing lots of different versions for the card back options I was entertaining. This way in one fell swoop, I can determine which design, which color saturation, values, brightness, etc. to go with.

In the above photo, you can see how I printed out many variations of that double vajra bluish card back design, at different color saturation and brightness levels to see which one I would like best.

This version is too saturated compared to my intentions. I’m going for a very muted, subtle color palette. Not bold. This came out way too bold.

Forgive my slow learning curve, because it wasn’t until now that I realized I can’t run the same brightness and saturation adjustments on all the cards.

This will need to be a card by card assessment. @#$%^&*

Bummer. That was a flop. And a waste of a week’s time.

Let’s compare the digital file I uploaded with an as-is scan of the actual printed card:

Above, the bottom row is from the first test print, printing straight from RGB. I thought the actual printed result was too dark and hypothesized that the issue was that I didn’t convert to CMYK before printing.

The top row above it is from this latest test print. To the left is the digital image file of the card after converting from RGB to CMYK. To its right is the as-is scan of how it printed– even worse than the first test print.

Arrrgh! Hypothesis proven wrong!

The one consistent thing is the actual card always prints a few shades darker than how it looked as a digital file.

Top row of the Judgment (Apocalypse) and Moon (Necromancer) cards was from the first test print. Bottom row is from the second test print is the CMYK conversion from the RGB. Yah, no, that wasn’t it.

Here’s what I want the cards to look like:

Below left, the version of the Lovers card is too bold and saturated. It’s not bad or anything. It’s a particular style. Just not the style I’m going for. The version to its right actually came out fine (from the first test print) and I don’t mind it as-is, except other cards from the deck at these specific settings came out too dark or too dull. So the default settings do not apply to every card– some came out fine, some not, further confirming that I’m going to have to go at this card by card.

Sigh. This process feels very Goldilocks.

I’m bummed that test run #2 was a total flop. I’m grateful for the digital design lessons learned, however. A mentor of mine used to call this tuition for the school of life. =)

On to test run #3.

12 thoughts on “SKT III Production Status: More Test Prints

  1. Well, you are definitely on the right track as far as your color choices, saturation, and so forth are concerned. In every case I think you’ve made the right decision. It’s a beautiful deck–I’m very impressed and can’t wait to actually have one in my paws.



  2. stankbeest

    Whew, I don’t envy you your task. At first I thought most of them looked good, just different (except the really dark ones). But after seeing the ones that look the way you want them, I thought “yeah, that IS perfect.” Not too hot, not to cold…


  3. I just remembered: Printers have color profiles. (And oh yeah: Color profiles, which are usually attached to each file)

    One time when I went in to get something printed at a professional, he opened my file, duplicated it, applied his printer’s color profile to the duplicate, then did some adjustments so my original and his duplicate looked identical.

    His monitor also had a big black hood on it.

    Even more I remembered: Monitor calibration. Oh god, suddenly all this is flooding back to me. THIS IS SO COMPLICATED!

    I would swing back to your printer and try to discover their workflow. Are they altering the files before printing? If so, what and why? Does their printer have a color profile you can have? What model printer are they using? Do research on that printer and figure out the best way to optimize for it. What is their printer maintenance process? When is the last time their printer was cleaned and calibrated?

    I remember something about how Costco has awesome photo printers, but not every tech takes care of the printers. So the best quality prints for the best price is actually at a Costco with an employee passionate about their work and they take loving care of their printers.


  4. christinejorja

    You need to colour calibrate your monitor with the profile provided by your chosen printing company for the specific paper you want to use. This though often needs some specialised hardware. Maybe you have a professional photographer friends close by who can lend you a calibration device.


  5. diane wilkes

    Your painstaking efforts are appreciated. And hopefully the tuition paid is knowledge that will help not just now, but in the future.


  6. It’s not a wasted week – look at all you’ve learned! A less conscientious person would just use the same setting for all the cards and print them. We know we get 100% Benebell attention and quality, and the deck will be worth the wait.


  7. Aww, I’m sorry the print run wasn’t satisfactory. I can really appreciate the need for accuracy in representing your art when putting it out into the world and creating a working tool. Colors have vibration and healing potential, so it makes sense that you’d be taking great care here. It sounds frustrating though! I hope the magic key is found to unlock harmony for you soon!


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