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Keys to Color Management

(May 2008) posted on Mon May 12, 2008

Twelve critical factors in implementing a successful color strategy.

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By Stephen Beals

Another problem with viewing booths that many print providers are not aware of, points out Hunter: "Can you pick one type of lighting for viewing everything? Maybe not. I have customers with three different light booths and their customers are so picky that they need to specify which light booth they are being viewed under. There can be a 4 Delta E difference between light booths made by different companies."

Steve Upton, president of Chromix, the Seattle-based color-consulting group, says that lighting conditions can be critical. "If the lighting is not controlled, then that’s a good place to start. The wide-format market is a big victim of this because metamerism-the change in color perception as a result of changing lighting conditions-keeps nailing them."

Many print production houses create a special viewing area to simulate the different lighting conditions under which the items will be viewed by potential buyers. There is also software available to simulate different lighting conditions on a monitor.

Seven: Qualify your Measuring Devices

Many shops are still profiling by eye or with a densitometer or colorimeter. A spectrophotometer, however, can play a vital role in measuring color in a managed workflow, says Summers. "A lot of stuff in wide format is going on different substrates and reading them requires different types of instruments. They need something suited to the materials and resolution being used."

That’s an important piece of advice many providers don’t get, Hunter says. "The last thing you need is a device that can’t accommodate a thick substrate you print on all the time."

Smith concurs that the measuring devices are critical, and that the way they are used can be just as important. "Although handheld spectrophotometers are convenient and cost-effective, care needs to be taken in order to get good, consistent measurements. Make sure that measurements are done on top of a neutral surface, such as a stack of several sheets of the paper being measured. Take care to keep the device flat (not tilted) and make smooth, controlled movements when making readings. You may get a "success" beep with measurements done haphazardly, but you’re introducing a lot of variability and inconsistency. If you’re measuring an extremely high-textured material (such as canvas) or an inconsistent media, it can be beneficial to print several measurement charts, then average the readings to eliminate inconsistent and ‘spiky’ readings."