I received a note from a friend asking for advice after her fine art poster returned from the print shop not looking like what she’d seen on her computer monitor.
How an image looks on a monitor doesn’t ensure how it will come out on paper. There are, to begin with, the monitor’s settings. Beyond that, the grain, type, finish and color of the paper you choose will change the ink’s color. So will the light that happens to fill the room when you’re looking at the page. So will things like ink density and dots per inch, and so will whether you’re using a 2, 4, 6 or more-color press, doing digital or offset printing, applying a varnish, and so forth.
Ordering printing online is quite a time-saver, but I tend to do so only for projects where exact color isn’t an issue, which it often isn’t. Just remember that ordering printing that way precludes doing an old-fashioned press check. The printing facility can email you a proof, but that still doesn’t eliminate the possibility that what’s on your monitor won’t match what comes out on paper. They can also send you a paper proof, but even that won’t be a true, off-the-press sample.
When getting colors just-so matters, show up for a press check. Examine samples as they come off the press, and ask the the press operator to make adjustments as needed on the fly. Once you have a sample you like, sign it and ask the press operator to be sure the rest of the batch matches.