The Big Picture - June/July 2014 - (Page 16)

graphics on the go graphics on the go Reaping the Rewards Of Correct Color By Jared Smith R GB, CMYK, ICC profiles, linearization, ink limits, deltas, calibration, G7, neutral printing, gray balance, etc. Whatever happened to the good old days, when you could load in ink and paper, hit the print button, and everyone was happy? I might be exaggerating a bit here, but I do remember a time when it seemed less confusing when it came to thinking about color. Now, color is not necessarily tricky on its own. The challenges arise, however, when you begin bringing in different substrates to print on using output devices that feature various print technologies. Combine those factors with differing inksets, file types, RIP software, and even climates, and the process can get way beyond tricky. Unless, that is, you have at least a basic understanding about what's truly going on, and how all of this can affect the color in your shop's graphics. What is 'accurate' color? In order to start unwinding the color-management conundrum, we first need to get a few things straight. Let's begin with the concept of "accurate color." Accurate color simply means that your final output (the printed media) is an accurate representation of the color as based on an industry standard (GRACol, SWOP, FOGRA, etc.). Accurate color does not mean it necessarily matches the color the designer saw on his screen, or that it's any type of "color match." Achieving accurate color only means that your final output is within a specific industry standard with regards to color difference (Delta E). For example, let's say you're working with a calibrated monitor and you send a file to the RIP that portrays a person with a sunburn. That output, if accurate, should show JARED SMITH is president of bluemedia (, a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and environmental applications, in Tempe, Arizona. 16 THE BIG PICTURE JUNE/JULY 2014 a sunburn. If the client comments that the person looks too sunburned, you can reply with confidence that the photo does indeed contain that sunburn but, for a fee, your creative team can adjust the color in their file. You should always be in a position in which your equipment, including your monitors, is more calibrated than your customer's. In fact, it's entirely possible that the first accurate representation of your customer's file will be on your monitor and your output. It's very likely that your customer, using their uncalibrated monitor, has never even seen an accurate representation of the color values of their own file. Now, many of you have had customers that supply a color proof (sometimes referred to as a "match print") of some type with their file from time to time. Typically a scaled-down output on high-gloss photo paper, this "actual output" was printed to show the client what their file should look like before they provide you with the files. It's important, though, to stress that outputs like this should come from either a service bureau or a highly calibrated in-house proofing printer. These color proofs should always contain a control wedge designed to give you the ability to verify that the print was indeed accurate by scanning it in and reading the results. Being like Switzerland The next key concept we need to address is "neutral printing." One way I like to explain neutral printing involves spotlights with colored gel lenses. We've all been to a play or concert and seen the lighting in the ceiling that has the colored films placed in front of the lights. Typically red, green, or blue, these modified lights cast this color onto the performance for effect. But while a stage with a bluethemed lighting is very cool for a guitar solo, a blue cast is definitely not what we're seeking in the print world. Neutral printing means there is no cast of unwanted color. Alas, since there is no such thing as a perfect match or a perfect printing process, all workflows inherently pick up and cast some kind of "extra" color along the way. This extra color needs to be identified and removed. Once that happens, your device will be printing neutrally - free of any color cast. >44

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Big Picture - June/July 2014

The Big Picture - June/July 2014
Wide Angle
Up Front
Graphics on the Go
Flavorful Interiors
Step-by-Step: Deer Caught in the Spotlight
Stay Sharp with Cutters and Routers

The Big Picture - June/July 2014