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The art of colour management

A colourful sample of prints.Jan’s top tips for colour management:
  • Consistency is key: colour management is about achieving results that are repeatable, time after time.
  • Colour management is quantifiable: the days of purely judging colour on sight are long gone and PSPs can be made accountable by brands that can track accurate colour management using sophisticated technology.
  • CMYK values are a mix of inks, not a colour: don’t rely on them at face value and account for other variables involved.
  • Getting the light right is crucial: investing in a verified lighting viewing box will ensure optimum and consistent light levels for viewing printed materials.
  • It’s important to approach colour management the right way: at the beginning of the process and not retrospectively. It needs to be the first thing that’s done and once your processes and systems are in place, the results will follow.

The concept of colour management has been around since the inception of print; however, techniques and technology have evolved rapidly in recent years, alongside increasing demand from brands for consistent and traceable results. Antalis Academy manager Rick Lee explains the benefits of keeping up with developments.

While some traditionalists still rely on their personal visual interpretation of colour or the applicability of standard CMYK values, there are many variables that can skew this approach and mean the finished product may not stand up to scrutiny. In addition, not having a robust approach to colour management often leads to increased wastage with the need for reprints and time spent trying to achieve the desired result.

The benefit of adopting modern colour management techniques is that they are quantifiable and everything can be checked and validated. This is invaluable for print service providers (PSPs) working with brands that have a clear visual identity demanding exacting results and repeatability. In this case, an interpretation of colour will not suffice; it needs to be the precise required colour, whatever ink, substrate or hardware is used.

At first glance, colour management is a complex subject that may appear overwhelming but once a best practice approach has been established and a checklist of simple steps, systems and potential variables put in place, it becomes part of the print process. If customers want to check in on colour management, the data will be there in black and white and it should lead to efficiency savings, both in terms of time and wastage.

The Antalis Academy Colour Management workshop is a dedicated one-day training programme aimed at companies that have one or more types of digital printer and want to achieve consistent and repeatable colour across different devices. Led by industry expert Jan Edgecombe, this workshop provides a comprehensive look at the theory of colour management, partnered with dedicated practical advice and demonstrations.

It starts with a discussion of learning objectives in order to understand participants’ particular areas of focus, ensuring they can be covered as much as possible during the day. The objective is for all attendees to understand setting up a colour workflow; achieving accurate colour from all of their devices; understanding what’s involved in profiling their own printer; controlling the repeatability and quality of prints; and how to save money on inks and unnecessary reprints.

An overview will be provided on proofing (including different types) and press standards, as well as setting up Adobe applications for print and prepress standards. There will be a focus on calibrating monitors with X-rite Pantone software and using the system to check your printer’s output and maintain its colour stability. Setting up monitors for different lighting and print requirements will be covered, with light being a particularly important variable when it comes to colour management. Further factors to consider will include how to adjust your approach according to what inks, substrates and hardware are being used..

Colours need to be defined using Pantone or LAB values. Troubleshooting, anticipating problems and preparing solutions will in fact be high on the agenda overall, including advice on creating media profiles for both RGB and CMYK printers and how to convert from RGB to CMYK.


Slideshow CK