Part 6: Color Swatch Generator Tutorial (Color Matching and Hard Proofing Step By Step)

This tutorial describes how to use a 3D Swatch Generator and perform color matching for 3D prints, specifically on J750/J735 3D printers.

  1. Step 1: Overview

    In 2D and 3D printing, the color that comes off the printer does not always perfectly match the color you selected on screen. Color matching (a process of transferring a color across technologies and platforms to see how it will look) is often necessary. 

    3D-printing a swatch of colors can help you identify which exact color and transparency level you need to select on screen to get the results you want off the printer. 

    To use the Color Swatch Tool in GrabCAD Print, check out this tutorial!

    To use the generator, continue on to the next step.

  2. Step 2: Go to the generator

    Access the following 3D Swatch Generator tool on the web.

  3. Step 3: Input your color value

     Enter the value of the color you wish to print.

    You can use Hex, RGB, Lab, HSL, or CMYK values.

  4. Step 4: Adjust the settings

     If necessary, set the Saturation, Brightness, Hue, and Transparency.

  5. Step 5: Chose the type of swatch you want to print

      Select the type of swatch. The 3D Swatch Generator can produce three types of swatches:

    • Default swatch—swatch of opaque colors, or with user-defined transparency (1 printing pass).

    • Transparent Colors swatch—swatch that optimizes the transparency of vivid materials (1 printing pass).

    • 0-75% Transparency Big Swatch—a large swatch that reproduces the default swatch with a range of transparencies (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, a total of 4 printing passes)



  6. Step 6: generate the swatch

    Click Create to generate the swatch and color key (in Hex values). 

    This will generate a swatch of colors, and a color key underneath to tell you the value of each color

    A word on the settings:

    Beyond defining the color of the swatch that you wish to generate, there are a number of settings that can be adjusted. We will discuss their different effects here.

    Hue, Saturation and Brightness

    Hue Saturation Brightness (HSB) is an alternative color definition model, often used in the computer graphics industry. It is built to reflect the way the human eye perceives color, and how the different colors mix together. You can read more about it here. And below is a video showing the process


    Typically, we recommend printing the transparency big swatch first. This will give you the widest range of colors. You can then identify the general range of transparencies closest to your desired color and print smaller swatches with that range of transparency applied

    Printed Swatch

    How to read the transparencies applied

  7. Step 7: Print a reference page

    Print the web page. Use it for reference after you print the 3D swatch.

  8. Step 8: Download the swatch

    Click Download 3D Swatch

    A ZIP file containing a VRML file downloads to your computer (typically, to the Downloads folder).

  9. Step 9: Extract the downloaded swatch

    Extract the ZIP file.

    Make sure the WRL file and the PNG file you extracted are in the same directory.

  10. Step 10: Upload the swatch to GrabCAD Print

    Insert the WRL file into GrabCAD Print.

    The model appears in GrabCAD Print.

  11. Step 11: 3D Print the swatch

    Print the 3D swatch and identify the color that is the closest match to the color you wish to print.

    To help you use the swatch without the printed color key the value and settings input to generate the swatch are printed on the input color

    This lets you recrate the swatch again at a later date and enables further iterations and tweaks to be made

    Note: If there is not a close enough match to the color you require then find the nearest color and repate the process adjusting the Hugh, Brightness and Saturation sliders (see Step 3)

    • For a more in depth explanation about hue, brightness and saturation search the interweb for HSB, HSL, HSV or see here
  12. Step 12: Find the right color

    Using the color key from the printed webpage (step 6), identify the Hex value of that color.

  13. Step 13: Apply the right color to your model

    Insert your model into GrabCAD Print and enter the Hex value obtained from the color key in the Print Settings menu.

  14. Step 14: Job done!

    Now print!

    And that is your model with the desired color.


    As always, leave us a comment or question if you have any in the Comments section below.