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Taking Control with Color Management

(May 2006) posted on Tue May 23, 2006

This article examines the benefits of color management and uses an actual job to demonstrate how color can be controlled.

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By Rick Auterson

I once asked Tony Mazzocco, our color-management specialist, to put a styrene simulation on the proofer. A few hours later, we had a very good simulation. A few days later, that stock simulation looked awful. I gave the proof to Tony, and he quickly came back and showed me that the so-called bad proof measured less than 2 Delta E quadratic of a MatchPrint, well within the inherent variation of the proofer. This scenario kept Tony hopping for months as he chased down paper simulations. This example was particularly objectionable to the eye, but it was within specifications.

People are very perceptive and able to discriminate between hues in the range of very light neutrals—colors that are extremely close to white. We can simulate most MatchPrint colors within 3 Delta E quadratic and hold that simulation within 2 Delta E quadratic day after day. But when the entire background neutral shifts 1 or 2 Delta E quadratic, the effect can be very objectionable. Using Delta E 2000 (tuned to human perception) a 2 Delta E quadratic between two very light neutrals will be as much as 6 Delta E 2000, closer to our actual perception. The same change of 2 Delta E quadratic in a red or green will probably be 2 Delta E 2000, which means you can't see it. We nearly dedicated Tony's career to simulating stock colors and tweaking that proofer within 1 Delta E every day. We finally dropped the stock simulations and freed Tony to work on things that benefited us for more than just a few days at a time.

The moment color-managed tones appear in our proofing or printing, they include the color of our MatchPrint's super white base and take into account the color of the stock for every color except white. White is the color of the stock showing through, and we leave it alone. A green print on yellowish stock, for example, will have the yellow ink pulled back because some yellow is already coming through from the stock.

Applying the workflow to a job


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