Colour Management: any good resources?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Blue Velvet, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Wasn't sure if this was a hardware or software subject so I just went for the General forum...

    Anyway, I'm looking to learn as much as usefully possible about pre-press colour management and I would be grateful if anyone has any tips, tricks, useful links, book recommendations etc.

    Our promotions/publications team has been increasingly moving towards a lot more CMYK stuff and away from 2-colour work and after a few recent surprises back from press, we're compelled to do something about it.

    Although we have fab new G5s with Panther, Adobe CS, Quark 6.5, the works + an acceptable printer (HP DesignJet 20ps) with an external RIP, I'm unable to make use of the tools at our disposal because of ignorance about the subject.

    We're also increasingly moving to a PDF workflow...

    It's surprising to me how few designers here in London bother with profiles at all. Many of our printers too... but not all, and there's the point.

    We spend about £170,000 (over US$300,000) per year on print so we're determined to get this right and force the printers who want our business to fall in line...

    Anyway, I'm getting off the track.
    Any words of wisdom are – as usual – much appreciated.
  2. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Start here. This is an excellent resource (Real World Color Management, Fraser et al) for understanding color management. It goes into the nuts and bolts of it all, and it's a fairly easy read from what I've heard.

    Some points to keep in mind as you move forward with color management:

    1) Not all printers, especially large ones, are going to be gung-ho about doing press-specific profiles. Now, in the UK it may be different, but I think the general European trend is that the DuPont Digital Waterproof (or perhaps Chromalin) is the de facto color standard, so that would probably be a good target to use.

    2) The HP 20ps is a reasonable inkjet proofer, but it is far from perfect. The built-in RIP from HP is nice, but I'm not sure they've tuned it to meet European color needs. That is, it is SWOP certified in the US, but that means little in the European market. You may want to consider making an investment in a more capable proofer, like an Epson 4000, which is a table-top version of their popular 7600/9600 line, and uses the very stable UltraChrome inks. You may also consider a more capable color-management RIP, like ORIS Color Tuner from CGS.

    3) If you are indeed serious about this, realize that it is a time-consuming endeavor in which to become involved. I've been doing it for quite some time now, and I am still far from being an expert. There are a lot of issues, from calibrating your monitors (what color temperature to use, etc.), to profiling proofers (use the ECI2002 target), to understanding the limitations of profiles and proofing/printing devices.

    You may want to consider joining Apple's color sync user group (I'll try to track down the link to join) and also look into the ECI stuff.

    Good luck!
  3. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Thanks for that really useful info – will follow it all up.

    Unfortunately, the HP 20PS is going to have to make do for another 3-4 years. Our team is just a small part of a national UK charity and convincing management that we have to spend as much as we have on a colour printer was nearly impossible... if they had their way, we'd be using a little desk inkjet.

    BTW I received the new RIP a few weeks ago and installed it, seems to be far more useful and less buggy.

    With our resources, I'm going to try and get the closest we can. Perfect would be nice but acceptable would be a damned sight better than some of our recent jobs...
  4. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    If you are indeed tied to the 20ps and limited in financial resources, you can still make some dramatic improvements.

    One thing would be to create a good profile of the printer itself on whatever media you are using. I can't remember if the new HP RIP allows for that (I'm sure it comes with a decent built-in profile), but you can also go through Chromix and look at their ColorValet service, which provide custom profile generation. If you only need one or two, which you probably do, it's significantly cheaper than purchasing something like ProfileMaker from GretagMacbeth.
  5. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    The first little problem I want to solve is working out why a Quark box of e.g. 30%C & 40%M will print differently than the same build in a TIFF or EPS...

    In reply, we are using HP papers so getting that bit right should be OK, I hope.
  6. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Quark won't color manage an EPS file, so whatever's there is there. It will color manage a TIFF, so that's one source of variation. I'm not positive on this, but I don't think it properly color manages it's own builds, either. The book I mentioned above should have a decent amount of good information on topics like that.
  7. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Just thought I'd bump this thread to tell of a useful book I've just received:

    Color Management in OS X: A practical approach
    by Joshua Weisberg (2004)
    ISBN 0-321-24576-8

    Apple Certified (Level 1) with CD-ROM

    Step-by-step lessons similar to the Adobe Classroom in a Book series

    Also bought the Real World Color Management one by Bruce Fraser et al. to act as reference and to give the nitty-gritty detail. had a good deal if you bought both together...

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