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The Money of Color

(September 2010) posted on Mon Aug 30, 2010

Getting the best color for your money.

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By Jared Smith

I was so impressed with the results I saw when the aforementioned outside color consultant was building our profiles that I made a huge mistake by calling off our staff training. Instead, I simply had the consultant build the rest of the profiles we needed before he left. This left us with perfect color—for about two weeks. When I called him to say our color was starting to drift away from perfect, his reply was, “When did you relinearize last?” Immediately, I knew that skipping that training was a bad idea. He had gotten the color right, but we didn’t know how to keep it there. We hired the consultant again, and this time we focused on training. We have not needed to hire the consultant again since.

Reprints (aka “re-dos”) are extremely expensive and, when you tally their cost, it becomes clear that bringing in outside help or hiring an in-house color expert is not. Your real choice is between daily color reprint expenses for life, or investing in the processes needed to almost eliminate reprints due to color issues.

Here’s what is required to have a true color-management system in place:

Defined color space and digital workflow: We use G7. Do some research and make sure your designers, your proof/output printer, your RIP, your profiles, and your calibration equipment are all on the same page here.

Up-to-date RIP: Ensure that your RIP software is not older than your design software. For instance, we had gradient color issues that were solved immediately when we realized that our older RIP (released years ago) was having difficulty with Adobe CS4 files. RIPs are designed to correctly interpret the data sent to them based on the most common file structure used by design software at that time. Ideally, your RIP should not be four years older than the software used to design the files you send to it.