Technological Developments — More Changes Reshaping the Industry
• SmartColor Digibase, a brand-specific digital database generated from physical standards proofed using different processes and substrates.
• SmartColor DigiGuide, a technology for generating and developing digital printing of hard copy physical color standards using brand and category color pallets.
• SmartColor DigiProof, a digitally printed color reference.
Unlike Pantone, which provides swatchbooks to specify color, DigiGuides and DigiProofs are printed by the printer on a multi-color ink-jet proofing system as specified by Sun Chemical.
The fourth component of the system is SmartColor iVue operating as an Adobe PhotoShop plug-in. SmartColor IVue allows packaging creators to access the Sun Chemical database so as to see claimed real color as it might be printed by offset, flexo or gravure any time in the preparation workflow. Sun Chemical claims a massive database of real ink colors on common packaging substrates printed by all processes will allow users to consider multiple alternatives to deliver a specified brand color on one or more packaging materials.
This approach might provide a designer with an advantage over the Pantone color matching system, which does not provide the ability to see how a defined Pantone color will look on a range of substrates. Sun’s SmartColor approach enables color to be selected based on specific inks, defined substrates and specific printing processes.
The Sun Chemical approach appears to be well-suited for packaging applications where color matching of six or eight colors might be utilized across a variety of substrates printed by different processes. Its limitation is that it is a supplier-specific system, which appears to ignore the ICC device- and supplier-independent color standards developed over the past decade. From a creative designer perspective, the Sun system seems to overlook the fact that packaging design is primarily done in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and perhaps Quark, while SmartColor iVue uses Adobe PhotoShop software rarely used by package designers. Nevertheless, Sun Chemical’s approach to color specifying has intriguing potential for the packaging designer and printer.