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Controlling Color

(January 2011) posted on Wed Jan 12, 2011

New developments in color-management tools, technologies, and standards.

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By Stephen Beals

Analyzing images via Golden Thread: Image Science Associates’ ( Golden Thread is a sophisticated image analysis package that includes two quality targets that incorporate the necessary features to specify and assess the quality of your imaging system, including: 12-step Spectrally Neutral Patches for measuring the Opto-Electronic Conversion Function (OECF), color neutrality, and noise; 18 Munsell color patches to assess color encoding accuracy; neutral density patches to assess uniformity; and a “Slanted-edge” feature for measuring spatial frequency response and color plane registration.

PIA’s wide-format test form: The new 20 x 40-inch Wide-Format Inkjet Test Form from The Printing Industries of America (PIA, is the organization’s first test form designed exclusively for evaluating inkjet equipment. The test form comprises 18 test elements, all developed specifically to help printers gauge the performance of wide-format inkjet devices. Companies can use the form to generate color-management profiles to improve a device's color output. The new form is also designed to help printers compare the print capabilities of various wide-format inkjet equipment so that work can be directed to the right device. In addition, users will be able to more easily spot and correct problems that might otherwise create waste and customer complaints, PIA reports. The form’s Open Designation Region includes two 8.5 x 12.5-inch areas that are left open so the user can add his own choice of color-management images, ink and substrate targets, artwork, and client-specific images; several free images and targets are included with the form for that purpose.

Voglesong ColoRef: The Voglesong ColoRef 1.0, is a Color Reference Material (CRM) compliant with ISO 15790-2004. Designed to be durable, uniform, and stable, it can be easily read by scanning, strip-reading, and handheld spectrophotometers, and is designed to tell users which of their devices are accurate, which require recalibration or which should be upgraded or replaced. NIST-traceable, it’s distributed by FineEye Color Solutions ( FineEye Color recently released its ICEserver 3.0, which adds a new ICC color management pre-processing features and a tone-correction tool.

Choose a point person
Yes, color will always be an ongoing battle – it’s inherent in the nature of output and in the subjectivity of those evaluating it (both shop and client). One key, however, is to have someone in your operation stay up to date on what technologies are available to you to ensure that color is initially correct as possible and that makeovers are kept to a minimum.

In Tempe, Arizona, for instance, print provider bluemedia has its VP of production, Hayes Holzhauer, as that point person. Holzhauer has been instrumental in implementing a G7 workflow into the shop, “because G7 is quickly becoming the standard for calibration in wide format,” he says. And he also ensures the shop’s other color-management tools are kept up to standard, including RIPs, monitors, printers, and any other related technologies. By doing so, the shop is better able to control color from input to output.