How to Print the Perfect Gray with Your Digital Printer

After weeks of designing, engineering, or modelling, you’ve finally sent your files to print. Now, there’s just one issue you hadn’t anticipated: the colour gray doesn’t look gray when it’s printed

Why is Gray Difficult to Print?

Unfortunately, gray is a challenging colour to print perfectly. On a screen, it’s made up of a solid colour, but in printing that colour is created by a series of dots that our eyes blend together. Digital printing uses larger dots, which are more noticeable when the dots are only using black ink. For optimal results, we recommend a gray that is made from a combination of multiple inks; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). The additional coloured dots ease the transition that our eyes perceive. It’s a delicate balance, because if even one colour is slightly off, your gray can take on an unexpected hue. This typically happens because of the specified colour breakdown, but can occasionally be a result of insufficient ink in the printer.  

The Best Way to Print Gray

Although gray is a difficult colour to achieve on a digital printer, the CMYK method is the best approach. The colour breakdown that works best will vary from printer to printer, but we recommend setting your CMY values and then adjusting the K levels to achieve the shade of gray you want. A good starting point for a light gray is 30C 24M 24Y or 60C 48M 48Y for a darker gray. 

Converting to Pantone Colours

If the colours you’ve selected for your design, model, or graphic are based on RGB colour sliders, we recommend standardizing your colour system to Pantone colours. For example, you can either convert a hex code to a close PMS match or start with a Pantone colour from the beginning. 

Our Process at TR Trades Reproduction 

With over half a century of experience, our Vancouver-based TR Trades Reproduction team trusts the Xerox® Versant® 4100 Press for our digital printing. Complemented by its colour calibration and profiling capabilities, the Versant® 4100 prints with 10-bit rendering for a uniform, high-definition finish. In turn, each print features smoother blended and solid colours, including gray

Getting Started

Whether you need precise architectural renderings, stunning graphic prints, or beyond, our team at TR Trades Reproduction has the knowledge, equipment, and expertise necessary to reproduce your work onto paper with uncompromising quality. 

We invite you to give us a call at 604-736-4571 to learn more or send us an email at for questions. 

Thank you for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!

TR Trades Reproduction Ltd.

1744 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC
604.736.4571 x 2

Mon to Thurs 7:30am to 9:00pm
Friday 7:30am to 5:30pm
Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm
After hours printing available!

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