Page 44 - Print21 July-Aug 2018 Magazine
P. 44

Colour management
Andy McCourt
The measure of success
Much has been hypothesised, theorised and argued about colour management since the introduction of CtP and digital presses, but often overlooked is that if a six-year old uses crayons to draw Mum, and it pleases her, the colour has been successfully managed. If the school magazine then wishes to reproduce the artwork, that colour must be managed in a different way and, according to Andy McCourt, there’s only one way to start: with measuring.
From the days of Cromalin, MatchPrint, ColorArt, FinalProof and other chemi- laminate proofing systems, printers have sought a way
of accurately predicting the colour
of actual press runs without having to run the job as a short run on the press itself. Press time is the most expensive part of the printing process so, as far as offset, letterpress, flexo and gravure is concerned, it’s always better to manage colour to the
extent that a ‘contract’ proof can be produced away from the press which is reliable enough to simulate real- world results.
Companies such as Screen, FAG, Vandercook and Heaford made proofing presses that used real inks and actual substrates, but the cost of making plates was still there. When digital proofing appeared on the scene in the late 1980s with the Iris inkjet printer, the stage was set for the digitisation of proofing and colour management, and international colour standards and characterisation datasets appeared under ISO 12647-x with implementations such as SWOP, Euroscale, GRACoL, G7, JCS, Fogra, Ugra, PSO and others.
Fast forward to the early 2000s and we saw inkjet printers from Epson, Canon and HP being used
as proofing devices from colour- managed workflows, using the International Colour Consortium’s ICC profiles which, theoretically, enabled all devices to be profiled and colour measured to reproduce colour faithfully. RIP software
from companies such as CGS Oris, GMG,Best Color, EFI, and Colorbus, combined with accurate colour
measuring devices from Gretag- Macbeth, X-Rite, Techkon, Barbieri, Datacolor and others, became necessary to calibrate and control colour output from ‘ordinary’ inkjet printers, to emulate press results and enable clients such as brand managers to ‘sign off’ on print runs.
Beyond pure data
It wasn’t always an easy path to follow because sheer data alone does not guarantee predictable colour results. You can get all the numbers right with ICC profiles, but the colour can still look awful. This is because there are subjective assessments involved and phenomena such as metamerism, where colour can change in appearance under differing light conditions.
The good news is that, after years
of variance, argument, torment and discontent, a properly managed closed-loop colour workflow where the process is strictly followed to produce predictable and repeatable colour is readily achievable to the extent that,
to quote WA’s Advance Press CEO Ian Smith from our April issue: “Once upon a time, colour control was a major issue, matching proofs and matching between presses. Today at Advance Press, colour is no longer a recurring issue.”
Reaching this level of colour management assurance applies to both offset and digital processes, including wide-format and includes soft proofing on calibratable monitors such as Eizo and NEC. It can even be achieved ‘in the Cloud’ with systems such as Fujifilm’s Colorpath, where data can be uploaded and the host Colorpath will generate a corrected ICC profile for almost any output device, aligned to ISO 12647-x.
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