Supry feels graphic design artists are given too few lessons during the course of their formal educations in how to help solve and eliminate problems of color management, which, in his words, “happen to be the worst problems out there.” Considerable waste results simply because graphic artists and printers attempt to match colors without using tools offered by ICC.
“The production side of a business and the graphic design side of that same business need to communicate both verbally and digitally in order to achieve the accuracy of the color they’re trying to produce, and to attain the consistency of product from day to day,” Supry observed.
Summers believes companies need people and training to support the overall process that will be put in place. “You need some level of expertise,” Summers said. “You need a viewing environment that’s controlled, to measure and view it in a predicable way. The third thing you need is the right software and setups in your software, within your workflow. And the last is you need a way to measure the results...in particular a spectrophotometer. In many wide-format shops they may have something other than a spectrophotometer. These are more expensive, but their unique aspect is they look at color in the same way as the human eye—measuring color appearance and color perception.”
Other Elements of Workflow
In addition to workflow components mentioned, it’s very important to have physical color standards, such as the Pantone Formula Guide, Elliott said. “That gives them an easier way of agreeing on a color with a customer,” she noted.
“Let’s say you want sky blue. How do you know what you see as sky blue is the same I see as sky blue? The formula guide assigns individual numbers to colors. So you have that printed sample coming from a reference book, printed on different papers and with different inks than what your digital printer will produce. That’s where the color management process comes in. You want to control digitally the representation of the analog color that you see in the guide.”
The final component of the process should be user knowledge, Supry said. “Because it’s easy for anybody to make a profile now, it doesn’t mean they understand what this profile can do, can’t do and what it won’t do for them.
“And they need to understand how to use these profiles in their workflow. They can get help from people out there like me, or they can turn to parties such as consultants who can train them.” Supry also recommended reading what he calls the best book on the topic, the late Bruce Fraser’s Real World Color Management, which he calls a valuable aid to color management novices.
Color management will continue to gain in importance in the years ahead, in part because print providers will never be free of the challenge of dealing with different substrates and different consumable materials in production. “The ink you buy this week may not be exactly the same as the ink you bought last month,” Elliott said. “I do think color management will become ubiquitous in the wide-format market, because the tools will become so accessible.
In addition to Wide-Format Imaging, Jeffrey Steele’sarticles have appeared more than 2,000 times in such publications as the Baltimore Sun, Barron’s, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Harford Courant, Indianapolis Monthly, Los Angeles Times, Modern Luxury, New York Daily News, Omaha World-Herald, OrlandoSentinel, Press-Enterprise of Southern California and Consumer’s Digest’s Your Money magazine.