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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

Let's follow a promotion for John Deere through the workflow and gauge the results. The John Deere promotion was for a display in Lowe's stores. The artwork for John Deere's campaign (Figure 4) was designed with large black and green vignettes. If you've screen printed vignettes, you know they tend to band when the dots first touch up. So we put a form up on our new six-station Thieme 5000XL inline press and banded the heck out of that black vignette. I'm a quality-control guy, so the first phrase that comes to my mind in situations like this is "without recourse to trial and error." Everything came to a stop, and we rethought our approach.

To fix the problem, I met up with Dennis Hunter, who manages screen printing, and Teddie Linder, who manages prepress. I manage quality. We've been through a lot together in getting this color-management thing right. Tables have been banged and lines have been crossed, but so far nobody has laid hands on anybody—although it's been close. Good thing, because Teddie is some sort of martial-arts instructor. We're not sure exactly what sort of belt she holds or in what discipline—or if that stuff even means anything past a certain level—so we all just speak a little softer around her and treat her with loads of respect.

Teddie, Dennis, and I are familiar with the banded-vignette problem, and we were able to work out a solution. Teddie changed the film separations to use hybrid dots.

The conventional halftone (AM) choice is basically between two bands at 40% and 60% using elliptical dots, or one slightly harsher band at 50% using Euclidean dots. Our normal halftones use Euclidean dots, but to cope with these large vignettes we opted to use a hybrid dot. Harlequin Dispersed Screening (HDS) is both AM and FM (frequency modulated or stochastic). It changes the frequency of conventional halftone dots, but the dots also change in size—like FM. They go from dots to little worm-like shapes and then reverses of worm-like shapes and reverses of dots (Figure 5).


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