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Color Management: The Guru List

(April 2010) posted on Tue May 04, 2010

More than 20 tips and tricks on wide-format color management from seasoned experts

click an image below to view slideshow

Getting your production floor in color synch is no easy task. Generally, most print providers will tell you, it’s a lot like herding cats: You’ll get one variable set and then another, but getting every component aligned—hardware, software, media, and so on—is often a daunting, if not seemingly impossible, task.

To aid you in your color-management efforts, we turn to 11 premier independent color consultants—“color gurus,” if you will, all members of The Color Management Group (see next page)—and ask them for some of their top color-management tips and tricks of the trade. In all, they’ve come up with more than 20 invaluable nuggets of advice that should help you rein in at least some of your shop’s color variables.

1. Prepare Printer Before Calibration
Often, color management is started on a device that has not been properly prepared. Before any type of meaningful color measurements can be taken, be sure that the printing device is in good condition. Check that the ink nozzles are not clogged and that all ink-head alignments have been done. It’s tempting to take shortcuts and get started right away—I see that very often. If you discover that the printer is not in optimal condition, your color readings are automatically suspect.
Son Do, Rods and Cones

2. Choose the Right Media
Arguably more than anything else, your media choice has the biggest impact on color fidelity. Choose a quality substrate tested and verified for your printer/ink combination. Substrates not verified or tested for your printer/ink combo can present unique and expensive challenges for color calibration.
Also worth noting: Storing media in the same room as the printer acclimates the media to the temperature and relative humidity of the room. Lots of weird things happen when media is stored in a different temperature and humidity from the printer.
Dan Reid, RPimaging

3. Save Time and Rip Off the Settings
If you’re using a new media that you’re unfamiliar with, open the linearization file and copy the settings. Very often, taking a look at the specially tuned factory settings for a similar media can help save you time when trying to build your own custom calibration.
Ron Ellis, Ron Ellis Consulting