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Digital Remote Soft Proofing: The Key to Effective Color Communication

(June 2008) posted on Thu Jun 19, 2008

Digital remote soft proofing offers screen and digital printers a way to improve color control, speed up time to press, and greatly reduce rejects. Read on to find out more about this technology and some of the other benefits you can reap when you implement a remote soft proofing system.


By Mark A. Coudray

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Designers often rely either on the default sRGB workspace at the front end of the creative process, or they’ll select a generic profile like SWOP v2, supplied by the design software. Neither approach is really acceptable. It’s important to understand the process can start off in a flawed state before any other decisions about or interpretations of the content are made. In other words, it only goes downhill from here.

Creative artists may know it’s necessary to work in a profiled workspace, but they have little, if any, understand-ing of the print provider’s workspace and output criteria. Furthermore, their creative efforts may be utilized by a number of disparate and diverse output devices. Consider the profiles mentioned above pertaining to desktop inkjet printers and offset litho, respectively. If you print large-format graphics digitally or on screen presses, these profiles mean nothing and are essentially irrelevant to the processes. Compound this with the fact what you print often has absolutely nothing to do with paper substrates, because display materials cover a wide range of plastics, boards, and foam-core products.

A solid workflow is established at the front end. Time spent working with the creative-content providers to educate and establish a reliable, calibrated, and profiled workspace pays off in enormous dividends downstream in the workflow. Providing them with accurate profiles for the device and material you’ll use helps to close the gap. The trick is to get the art directors and production artists to understand the importance of this step and to remember to load the correct profiles. As wishful as this sounds, for as long as I’ve been in the print business, creative generation has always been the weak link and continues to be so to this day.

Lighting and monitor calibration are the next obstacles we face, even with the correct profiles in place. We’ll tackle the lighting issue first. For years we’ve heard D50 for reflective viewing and D65 for emissive monitors as the two primary standards to follow. They are. The numbers refer to the color temperature in degrees Kelvin (5000° and 6500°, respectively). These values are for analog reflective proofs, but the luminance of the white point for us is different.


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