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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

8. Use L*a*b* for Controlling Brand Colors
Use L*a*b* to achieve best possible color matches for spot/brand colors. First, make sure to build your files correctly—if you have a spot or brand color, define it as such in the art file. If you’re printing the file from a desktop application, make sure to send process and spot data—don’t convert to process. Most RIPs come with Pantone libraries and these will generally yield pretty good results for PMS colors. But if these matches aren’t close enough, use a spectrophotometer and measure the desired color. Override the spot-color recipe in the RIP with the measured value and fine tune from there, if need be.

Also, be careful what you are comparing to—I see lots of people comparing output to old and outdated Pantone Guides. Make sure your guides are current; if they are not current, replace them or print your own spot-color guides!
Dan Gillespie, ColorGeek

9. RGB ‘Driver-Based’ Profiles
If you’re profiling your inkjet printer via the manufacturer’s driver and using a third-party media, don’t assume that the media vendor’s recommendation for media/paper setting is the best choice. Print the profile chart through all the relevant media types (with color management disabled), create the profiles, and analyze all of them. Print a test image that detects over-inking and “smoothness,” and use a profile-analysis tool such as Chromix ColorThink Pro, X-Rite Monaco Gamut Works, Alwan Color Pursuit, etc., to check for the largest gamut volume and the most linear behavior. Often, the media vendor’s recommendation isn’t necessarily the best one.
Terry Wyse, WyseConsul

10. Matching to Sheetfed
Matching wide-format prints to sheetfed prints can be tricky, even after ink limiting and profiling. Sometimes the issue is that the color of the inkjet ink is too different from conventional printing inks to make it easy to match a corporate/brand CMYK spot color without doing a color transformation on each file. Other times, the adjustment to get the brand color kills the other details in the job.