It goes without saying that color management is a key part of a company’s commitment to helping customers achieve attractive and accurately printed products. The task that color management sets out to achieve is by no means easy, so as a result we see many in the industry still seeking to perfect the process.
Recently at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), I completed a color management systems course and afterwards took on the challenge of color managing a weekly run, 32-page magazine. I would like to share with you my experiences within the course and my journey to color managing the magazine.
The aim of the 11-week course was to address the science and technology of color management systems. Our focus was on achieving quality color reproduction along with scanner-monitor and proof-print agreement. My professor started the first class by explaining that the goal of color management was to produce consistent and predictable color. At the time that sounded like a simple task, but after investigating digital, soft and remote proofing, and evaluating color management system performance, I learned it was more difficult than I had first perceived.
I felt at one point that there were so many variables within implementation color management that the chance of successful was extremely thin. Not to even mention all the factors that had to go right on press to produce the correct color. There was light at the end of the tunnel, though, which I saw after studying the role of color measurement in device calibration and building an ICC-based (International Color Consortium) color management system. As the concepts began to sink in, it all began to make sense and seem actually feasible in a commercial setting.
I find it interesting to look at the different ISO standards, specifications and best practices that the printing industry is using to solve and improve color management efficiency. It is no surprise that customers are demanding these processes be controlled and their suppliers be, for example, G7 certified. Certification not only allows them to produce a close visual match from proof to print, but to internally save money as well.
At the end of the class, I decided for my final project to take on the challenge of color managing a weekly, 32-page magazine that is run on RIT’s Goss Sunday 2000 press. What limits Reporter Magazine
from being color managed is that the paper used changes each week due to the nature of it being donated or left over from test runs on the press.
My strategy for this project was to setup an ICC-based color management system. After organizing consistent paper, I created a custom test target to run on press and print linear after going through Prinergy. From the test target run that was within SWOP specifications, I created my ICC print profile and converted it to the magazine’s InDesign document. After calibrating the office monitors, our editors, photographers and designers were able to adjust color accordingly within the document.
The magazine was then printed holding the same press variables constant as the test target run. As a result, the magazine turned out to successfully match the content on the calibrated monitors. Being able to complete the task and help the design and photo staff of the magazine understand how print allows for their sought-after consistent color made my enjoyment of the class even greater.