So confession time… How many times have you have completed an order where you haven’t been 100% happy with the edible ink colours?

In this post we solve the most common problems in relation to colours and shades on your icing sheet printouts, so you can know you’ve got the best quality images for your customers.

How to Solve Edible Printing Color Issues

Now, we’ve summarised the different colour related links here to jump to, in case you’re troubleshooting and need to find a quick fix.
My edible images are coming out in the wrong colours
My edible images are coming out too dark
My edible images are missing certain colours

Otherwise, read on…

My edible images are coming out in the wrong colour

Have you ever faced an issue where the image colour is significantly out from the original? It’s something that cookie decorators have also highlighted in Julia Usher’s Cookie Connection.

In fact Jessica from Hello Baked even wrote a helpful blog post recently covering her personal experiences on this. Now although this is relatively rare, it appears to occur with certain colour mixes. The photo below represents this well and was the most severe examples we had seen.

Edible Ink colour issues

Here’s our recommendation if this happens:

Step 1: Is a colour missing?

Firstly, double-check if all the colours are working properly. Perform a ‘nozzle check’ in the printer settings, and if a colour isn’t printing, refer to the troubleshooting tips in the next section around cleaning the ink heads.

Step 2: Adjust the image in the printer settings

Using the printer property settings (Print> Properties > Main > Color/Intensity > Manual> Set), adjust the balance of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. In the example above from Jessica, she found she had to set to little to no Cyan, and a high level of Magenta to get the colours to match on paper.

colours change for printer

Step 3: Ensure good quality inks

There is a chance that the colours could be off as a result of a poor quality ink batch. If you’re seeing this consistently it may be worth looking at other ink suppliers. Remember to keep experimenting with different inks and suppliers – and speak to others on their experiences.

Bonus tip: Manage your customers expectations

Now we’re printing on icing here folks, this isn’t retina display! Sometimes your customers may need to be reminded of this too. You may want to put a note on your website / Facebook page explaining that colours don’t always match perfectly, since the inks are edible!

My edible images are coming out too dark

Sometimes if you have a darker design, the detail in the output can look relatively poor. Here are a few steps to resolve this:

Step 1: Ensure the correct printer settings

First of all, stop printing using the ‘photo printing’ setting! Let me explain. You would think that you should choose the photo print setting so it will come out highest quality on the icing sheet, right?

Wrong – it’s all about having the appropriate setting for the surface it is printing on. So if you choose the photo printing setting for icing, the ink is layering deeper and is actually producing more contrast. In other words, on icing, the dark shades in the photo look darker.

Choose the ‘plain paper’ setting instead. You can still choose ‘high quality’ on this option, and you’ll find the the prints aren’t as dark vs photo printing.

Step 2: Lighten the image

If you need to adjust further,  there is no need to play around within a photo editing program to adjust the brightness – you can do it directly within the printer settings. For Canon printers (which we recommend due to the removable print heads for easy cleaning), go to Print> Properties > Main > Color/Intensity > Manual> Set, then adjust the brightness from there:

print settings if colour is off

printer settings if colour is too dark

This can generally solve 90% of the shading related issues. Otherwise, is there a different, lighter design you can use?

My edible images are missing certain colours

If some of your prints are looking a little off it may be that one of the colours isn’t printing properly, and is a result of clogged print colours, or detatched cartridges. Here’s what to do in this situation:

Edible Ink Printer Nozzle Check

Step 1: Check cartridge is attached properly (oh, and that it’s not empty!)

Ok first things first, check that you’re not just out of ink! Otherwise, do a ‘nozzle check’ printout (Printer properties>Maintenance>Nozzle Check) to verify that a colour is indeed not printing.

Open up the printer and check the ink cartridges. Is there is a flashing light or missing light like the below? This may means that the printer doesn’t recognise the ink cartridge or has a bad connection. Take out the cartridge, lightly clean the chip with a dusting cloth and then replace it. If the light doesn’t return solid after a few attempts you may need to purchase a new ink cartridge.

missing light - yellow not connected

Step 2: Perform ‘Cleaning’ function in printer settings

If the cartridge is connected properly, but is still missing a colour, then press the ‘cleaning’ cycle (Printer Properties>Maintenance>Cleaning). You may need to do this a couple of times to get the heads cleared and inks running again. You can also try deep cleaning too, however be aware that this consumes a lot of ink.

Step 3: Clean print heads

Still having issues? It may need a more thorough clean by removing and cleaning the print heads – this only works for removable print-heads. Deco, a UK supplier, covers this point thoroughly in a support video around edible printer troubleshooting. You don’t necessarily need to own the cleaning equipment suggested, but it helps.

Step 4: Replace print head or printer (last resort)

If after trying all the above it still isn’t working, it may be time to replace your print head or printer. Have a chat with your supplier to see what they recommend (or look out for our upcoming blog post on Edible Printers).

Bonus tip:

Generally, we’ve found that if you maintain your equipment properly over time, there is less chance of the inks getting clogged and not printing. Have a check of this equipment maintenance schedule to help to keep you on track and extend the life of your equipment.


I hope the above tips help you so you know exactly how to improve your edible printing colours.

What edible printing issues do you face? Let us know and we’ll cover them in a future post.