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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

19. Photoshop for Image Assessment
Learn how to use Adobe Photoshop tools such as “Levels” to judge a file’s quality and ensure that scans and capture files are being made correctly and when moved, re-saved or edited, that the data stays intact. We recommend users retain full range of tone and color as long as possible in the process to respect the original art—if that’s the desired look. Since we all know that printing is improving by leaps and bounds, it’s inadvisable to discard image data (for example, by reducing saturation or converting to a small colorspace) just because an image is destined for a low-quality publication or print process. Make a copy first, save the original.
—Neil Barstow,

20. Inkjet Gamut Limitations
Gamut limitations in inkjet output can sometimes surprise people. Many assume that the inkjet gamut is always larger than a typical printing press (such as shown with a Gracol profile). While many inkjets print more saturated mid-tone colors, when it comes to shadow colors they may not be able to precisely reproduce the darker browns and greens found in many images. This can result in unexpected color shifts and sharp transitions. To take advantage of inkjet’s capabilities, ask for files in RGB spaces like Adobe RGB, and to maximize dark color gamut, choose your media carefully and convert color to your custom profiles judiciously.
—Steve Upton, Chromix

21. Hire Some Help
A consultant can train and quickly get you up to speed. Just make sure you outline your expectations and what you need to accomplish. Very often they can get you there quickly—and teach you things that would take weeks or months to learn on your own.
—Ron Ellis, Ron Ellis Consulting

22. Archiving the Master Image
Where space permits, archive your raw files or high-bit (16-bit) originals—and also your full-size 16- or 8-bit layered .psd image files. At output time, working on a flattened duplicate, optimize your output files to suit the print destination and—importantly—work on your compatibility with the others in the image chain—be they photographers, designers, agencies, or print houses.
—Neil Barstow,

More on Color?
Please let us know if you’ve found these tips helpful, or if there are specific color topics you’d like more information on. Of course, your own color tips are welcome as well. Send any color-management notes to: (subject line: color mgmt).

Get Your Guru Here
The following 11 color-management experts chipped in tips and tricks for this article, and were willing to share their expertise with readers of The Big Picture. We’ve provided names, companies, websites, and locales for each:
• Neil Barstow, principal,, Hove, England;
• Son Do, co-founder and technical officer, Rods and Cones
(, Santa Cruz, CA;
• Ron Ellis, principal, Ron Ellis Consulting (, Stratham, NH;
• Dan Gillespie, president, ColorGeek (, Lancaster, PA;
• Marc Levine, director of business development, The Color Management Group (, Stoneham, MA;
• Stephan Marsico, owner, Digital Color Concepts
(, Charlotte, NC;
• David Meyers, owner, Meyers Prep (,
Strongsville, OH;
• Dan Reid, president, RPimaging (, Tucson, AZ;
• Steve Upton, president, Chromix (, Seattle, WA;
• Dan Wilson, principal, Prepress I.T. Limited (,
Dublin, Ireland; and
• Terry Wyse, principal, WyseConsul (, Charlotte, NC.

In addition, we’d be negligent if we did not acknowledge the help of The Color Management Group ( in helping put this information together. Founded in 2003, The Color Management Group, based in San Jose, California, is a worldwide consortium of premier, independent, consultant-based resellers and their Silicon Valley distributor who share technical information and work together to conduct marketing activities. Members provide pre-sales assistance, product sales, integration, training, and technical support of color-management solutions and G7-related technologies. All 11 consultants referenced here are members of The Color Management Group.