Making color charts in InDesign CS2

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Rojo024, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. Rojo024 macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2007

    I have been approached by a small start-up company that is interested in creating Color Charts for some of their stains and coatings. A few problems they are having are inconsistency in the final printed colors (variability within the batch of printed sheets) and getting the monitor to look like what is printed. I am curious if you all have know of any solutions. Also, I am fairly new to the design and print world, so long explanations would be appreciated.

  2. Kwill macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2003
    Please forgive me for putting too fine a point on it but I think you're in way over your head. Four-color process will not be able to reproduce a wide variety of custom colors, especially from one print run to another. Generally swatches are matched with custom mixed colors or even silkscreened. Very costly. If you are new to the printing world, this is not the type of job to start on. If there are any mistakes you're likely to lose more than you earn.

    // 2¢
  3. Manderby macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2006
    Welcome to the world, where real physics can destroy all your hopes at once. Your problem does not lies in Indesign but in the whole printing workflow. Printing IS unreliable. These problems have been studied since about 100 years and no real solution is available (if there is any ever), just approximations. Unfortunately, even with the most elabourated theorys, these approximations can vary up to lets say 10% from your intended result.

    Monitors looking like the printing result is called "soft proof" and has been abandoned by many printing companies, as the benefit is yet too small. This is how this sort of problems is tackeled nowadays: Print, look at the result and decide how to improve your colors before printing. This needs a lot (Years!) of experience.

    I agree with the previous post, this is a highly risky topic to start with in the printing industry. But, if you really are interested, there are many books about this color-printing topic. Or for an overview, study the following pages: and
    Sorry, no joke :(
  4. wongulous macrumors 6502a

    Dec 7, 2002
    You're working with 3-4 variables here. This will make your head hurt.

    The first variable is probably obvious, the stains/coatings themselves. Being a bit of a DIY nerd myself, I know this is already going to vary over time, by application, and by surface. But this is probably already assumed, and your client will choose whatever ideal application they wish. But that doesn't mean that when they open the can and make a new swatch that it'll still match your poster--and neither should you guarantee that.

    The second variable is the input method for these stains into a digital image file. Are you taking a photo? Are you scanning a photo? Are you scanning the stain itself? These will all produce different results, or possibly a myriad of results within each method. They also expose you to the first set of color expression variables such as color profiles, lighting, and camera/scanner "color enhancement" effects.

    The third variable is converting that image into the print color space. I hope you already understand this, but in case you don't, I'll explain briefly. Screen displays store red, green, and blue (RGB!) colors that combine make white, or when absent, make black. This is an additive color model (left, below), for when there is a light source present behind the color (or displaying the color.. but I digress). In print, it's inks on paper, which necessitates that adding colors make a color darker and/or more complex, and that is a subtractive color model (right, below)... see the cyan, magenta, and yellow?

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    It's just never going to be the same on-screen. If you can get pseudo-true-to-life color via a color system and print system, then you should completely ignore what it looks like on screen. If you need some sort of on-screen presence, like a website or interactive kiosk or somesuch, then you're going to have to keep a completely separate base of these scanned/photographed images for screen work vs print work.

    Anyway, hopefully this is all very elementary to you, but if not, consider this your warning that you definitely are in over your head and you should take at least a primer class or two before you take on another such project.

    The fourth is of course the printer, and since we don't really know how you're running this (print shop/their setup, color laser, color inkjet, etc), I can't really say more. But if you are having it professionally printed, and you don't know how to send them the right stuff, suffice it to say that they will gladly print it out the way it was provided to them regardless of if it was what you wanted.

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