21 Replies Latest reply on Jul 15, 2009 11:41 AM by Printer_Rick

    Please check this workflow...

    TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

      Hello,

       

      Here I am, sticking my head in the lions' den...

       

      Anyway, I'm a graphic designer who usually does b/w books, text only. The closest I come to colour is greyscale!

       

      So now I've got a client who has a set of colourful children's books she wants printed.

       

      She is doing the drawings herself on the computer with a piece of free graphics software and an old LCD monitor. Uncalibrated, unprofiled.

       

      She has done most of the drawings already before I came onto the scene. But she is particular that she wants the printed colours to look like what she's got on screen.

       

      I explained that CMYK cannot reproduce the flourescents she's seeing on her screen. She's okay with that, but she does want the same "hue".

       

      So...

       

      I borrowed a copy of Real World Color Management 2nd ed. I'm reading through it, but boy is it confusing.

       

      I also borrowed a MonacoOPTIXxr thingy, and have calibrated and profiled my monitor (a Dell 2407WFP).

       

      As far as I can make out, what I need to do is:

       

      (1) Go over to the client and profile her monitor. With the software she's using she can't attach profiles to the TIFFs she's making. So when I receive the files, I'll attach her profile to them for her.

       

      (2) Then, at my end, I'll convert the images to CMYK. She'll come over here, and we'll play with the colours until she's happy with the results.

       

      (3) Should my working profile be some generic CMYK?

       

      (4) Once we decide where we're printing, I'll ask the press for their profile, and convert from my working space to their profile, and save the images without any profile at all.

       

      Does that make any sense? Any comments will be appreciated. But please keep them simple if possible.

       

      Thank you,

      Ariel

        • 1. Re: Please check this workflow...
          Rick McCleary Level 3

          Hi Ariel -

           

          Not a lion's den. Really!

           

          Here we go:

           

          (1) Go over to the client and profile her monitor. With the software she's using she can't attach profiles to the TIFFs she's making. So when I receive the files, I'll attach her profile to them for her.

          For this project, there's no point in profiling her monitor if she's working with an un-color-managed application. (i.e., she can't embed a profile.) Gather up her files, take them to your place, open them up in Photoshop and assign whichever profile makes the images look best on your calibrated/profiled monitor. (It's really just a guessing game at that point.)

          (2) Then, at my end, I'll convert the images to CMYK. She'll come over here, and we'll play with the colours until she's happy with the results.

           

          (3) Should my working profile be some generic CMYK?

           

          (4) Once we decide where we're printing, I'll ask the press for their profile, and convert from my working space to their profile, and save the images without any profile at all.

          I'd actually do #4 first - determine who the printer is and prepare the files according to their press conditions (i.e., use their profile.)

           

          The tricky part will be compressing the large gamut of the RGB files into the small gamut of the CMYK color space. In other words (as you have already told her) there will have to be compromises made about how to render that bright neon RGB green she sees on-screen into a more muted neon green that exists within the CMYK color space.

           

          But it sounds like you have the general idea. Give it a try and come back with more questions.

           

          Rick

          • 2. Re: Please check this workflow...
            TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            Rick,

             

            Hi. Thanks for taking the time.

             

            For this project, there's no point in profiling her monitor if she's working with an un-color-managed application. (i.e., she can't embed a profile.) Gather up her files, take them to your place, open them up in Photoshop and assign whichever profile makes the images look best on your calibrated/profiled monitor. (It's really just a guessing game at that point.)

             

            I figured that if I want to see on my monitor exactly the same colours she is seeing on her monitor, then: She just sends me the files with the RGB numbers she likes based on her monitor. I add a profile of her monitor that I made to the files, and, bingo, I see the colours on my monitor just like she sees them on hers. Isn't that true?

             

            I'd actually do #4 first - determine who the printer is and prepare the files according to their press conditions (i.e., use their profile.)

            So I don't need a "working space"? Or rather, the press' profile is my working space? So when does one need a generic working space?

             

            Thanks,

            Ariel

            • 3. Re: Please check this workflow...
              bret linford

              Hi, Ariel.

               

              I'd make a little tweak to Rick's suggestions:

               

              When your client is viewing her work on your calibrated monitor, find the RGB profile with the most pleasing result. Only convert the images to the printer's cmyk profile as the very last step. This is because the printer may have dedicated GCR or UCR settings applied in their profile. By being in cmyk and making adjustments you could easily throw these off by adding too much black or undercolor to the image. If you stay in RGB you can 'soft-proof' your image, i.e., see how it will look when printed by going to View/Proof Setup/Custom and choosing the printer's profile. Remember, don't convert to cmyk until all of your image adjustments are done. Just my 2 cents! :-)

              --

              Bret

              • 4. Re: Please check this workflow...
                Rick McCleary Level 3

                I figured that if I want to see on my monitor exactly the same colours she is seeing on her monitor, then: She just sends me the files with the RGB numbers she likes based on her monitor. I add a profile of her monitor that I made to the files, and, bingo, I see the colours on my monitor just like she sees them on hers. Isn't that true?

                Well, that's a nice thought. But with her unknown computer (and unknown video card), and her unknown and "old" LCD, I'm not sure I'd rely on getting a great match between her monitor and yours. If it were me (and if it were physically possible), I'd get her to sit right next to me in front of my calibrated and profiled monitor and play with the color right there.

                 

                Create a baseline by assigning a profile to the images that makes them look reasonably close to what she wants. Then, go from there.

                 

                 

                [edit - typo]

                • 5. Re: Please check this workflow...
                  Rick McCleary Level 3

                  When your client is viewing her work on your calibrated monitor, find the RGB profile with the most pleasing result. Only convert the images to the printer's cmyk profile as the very last step. This is because the printer may have dedicated GCR or UCR settings applied in their profile. By being in cmyk and making adjustments you could easily throw these off by adding too much black or undercolor to the image. If you stay in RGB you can 'soft-proof' your image, i.e., see how it will look when printed by going to View/Proof Setup/Custom and choosing the printer's profile. Remember, don't convert to cmyk until all of your image adjustments are done.

                  This is a good thought, and is what I would do if I were dealing with photographs.

                   

                  However, the artist is creating illustrations on-screen, hoping for the most vibrant color possible within the limits of the printer's CMYK color space. In this case, I would work on-screen in the same way as I would mix paint on a palette, using the basic principles that every painter knows about color:

                   

                  To make a color more muted, mix in its complementary.

                  To make it more saturated, remove its complementary.

                  To make it darker, add black.

                  To make it lighter, remove black.

                   

                  I'd work right within the printer's CMYK color space and make good use of Selective Color adjustment layers to add/subtract complementary colors and black. This approach allows for the artist to get the most saturated possible colors by using the Info Panel to ensure that as much of the complementary color is removed as possible.

                   

                  One caveat:

                  The complementary color is what gives a colorful area its form, so be sure not to remove it all, or you will lose too much detail. It's a delicate balancing act.

                   

                  Again, this is different than how I would handle photographs. But these are illustrations.

                  • 6. Re: Please check this workflow...
                    p taz Level 3

                    Shortcut version of Rick's very good advice, put on a 'curves' adjustment layer and pull down (lighten) the highlight end and boost the shadow ends at the 25% and 75% points to increase saturation, it does exactly what Rick says about adding and removing complementary colours but in a simpler way.

                     

                    Tell your client about GIGO  ! (garbage in = garbage out)  If they dont have the tools, they can't make the product.

                    • 7. Re: Please check this workflow...
                      Lou Dina Level 3

                      Ariel,

                       

                      You are new to color management, and it IS very confusing and complicated at first.  The advice you have received is excellent.  The only thing I will add is that you need to prepare your client so they have "reasonable" expectations. The earlier you prepare them, the easier it will be for everyone.  This is especially true if they like brilliant colors and are dazzled by the incredibly bright reds, blues, greens and pastels on their backlit monitor.

                       

                      To do that, you can simulate "typical" sheetfed press output and color gamut on your inkjet and hand off a proof to your client.  Inkjets have a wider color gamut than most presses, so you can simulate a press and show your client a few of their images.  The details on how to do this are in Real World Color Management. Ideally, you will use a similar paper stock to the final paper that will be used to print the job (coated, uncoated, glossy, matte, luster, whatever).  After the client becomes acclimated to the reality of the limited gamut off press, you can use your print as a guideline for what to expect and for agreement.  It's a good idea to do this anyway and submit it to your printer with the job so they have an understanding of your expectations.  They will create their own "contract proof" which you should ask for (and sign off on), but presenting your own proof will help them hit your target.  If they see a huge difference between their proof and yours, they may call, or they may just submit their proof and you can compare it to yours.  If they are not close, then somebody did something wrong, but at least you caught it early.

                       

                      Having an accurate proof on paper will take uncalibrated monitors and non-color managed applications out of the equation, which is a good thing.  It is also portable and can be used to communicate between you, your client and the commercial printer. It's good to get on the same page (sorry for the pun).

                       

                      Another thing....verbal communication about color can be a difficult thing.  What your client says verbally may be clear as a bell to them, but it can easily be misinterpreted by others.  If you have a good swatch book, use it to clarify what they mean.  Pull out samples and get them to show you what they want.

                       

                      Hope this helps.

                       

                      Lou

                      • 8. Re: Please check this workflow...
                        TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        Thanks all for your help.

                         

                        Rick McLeary,

                         

                        If I understand correctly, you're saying that you suspect her monitor is unprofileable?

                        • 9. Re: Please check this workflow...
                          Rick McCleary Level 3

                          If I understand correctly, you're saying that you suspect her monitor is unprofileable?

                          Based on your description if her set-up, yes, it's quite possible. However, if you have the time, there's nothing to be lost by giving it a try.

                           

                          Rick

                          • 10. Re: Please check this workflow...
                            Lou Dina Level 3

                            Rick is right on.

                             

                            I will add, however, that even if you can manage to accurately profile your client's monitor, you are still dealing with somebody who is staring at bright, saturated, unreproducible RGB colors on their monitor, and who is also using a non-color managed application.  To me, you are just setting yourself and her up for disappointment. That is doubly true if she LOVES to use bright colors.  A person who uses more subdued colors will experience less of a shock.

                             

                            You have to show here what is achievable "in print", (specifically a printing press with the type of paper you will use for the final job),  and get her to stop doing A:B comparisons with what is on her monitor.  Presses do a notoriously bad job reproducing blues, pastels, colors in deep shadows, etc.  Since presses  use cyan, magenta and yellow inks, they do well with those colors, but reds, greens and especially blues can sometimes be a problem.  Also, paper can NEVER display the same wide dynamic range as a monitor, so you have to cram your original color and dynamic range into a very compressed space.  It's like pouring a quart of water into a pint jar.

                             

                            If you can move her to reviewing and approving printed proofs, you will prepare the way and get her used to what is really achievable on press.  Viewing the prints in isolation will often be very satisfactory, but comparing prints to an uncalibrated RGB monitor using non-color managed applications will probably lead to unrealizable expectations and disappointment.

                             

                            OK....I've hammered this point to death.  Over and out.

                             

                            Lou

                            • 11. Re: Please check this workflow...
                              Printer_Rick Level 4

                              You already have tons of good advice. I'll add a couple more points to consider:

                               

                              It sound like you don't have an accurate monitor calibration, and you may not have the money or the time to invest in achieving accurate color on your monitor. It also sounds like your primary concern is your client expecting colors that cannot be achieved with CMYK.

                               

                              If this is true, there is one way to give your client a very general idea of the color shifts you can see when moving from RGB - CMYK. With the RGB image open, hit command-Y (mac) or control-Y (PC). This will show CMYK color. If there are brilliant RGB colors, your client will plainly see how these colors change. And you can toggle back and forth.

                               

                              Please understand this is a very general way of showing RGB - CMYK color shifts. Without the proper monitor calibration and the proper CMYK profile you will not see 100% accurate print color. But you will get your point across.

                               

                              Lou mentioned swatch books, and these are important too. There is a lot of debate on how to recreate Pantone Solid swatches in CMYK, and it gets complicated. If you do happen to have a Pantone Solid to Process swatch book, you have another excellent way of showing how color "shrinks" in CMYK. In these books, the solid spot color and the CMYK are side by side. In many of the colors there is a huge difference. It's like a printed version of the command-Y on your monitor. Please remember though that the final printing may not exactly match the CMYK in the swatch book. The swatch book was printed on another press and the print conditions were not identical to yours. This is one reason why swatch color matching can be a difficult ordeal.

                               

                              (Re-reading I see now where Bret already mentioned Proof Setup in Photoshop. Bret please consider my advice a reinforcement of your suggestion)

                               

                              Message was edited by: Printer_Rick - typos and added note

                              • 12. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                Again, thanks all for your comments.

                                 

                                I do have: A nice monitor, a MonacoOPTIXxr, and the software, and a graphics card.

                                 

                                I do not have: A lighbox (whatever that is), grey walls. I don't even have a decent Inkjet. I usually just print on my b/w laser.

                                 

                                Given this, is it worth my pursuing the holy grail of "color management"? I suspect that it could do more harm than good, and won't really provide more accuracy, given my setup.

                                 

                                Switching between CMYK and RGB on Photoshop does make a big difference to the colours. Should I leave it at that?

                                 

                                I think that my client is not a colour fanatic (pardon the term). But she had a contract proof made of one page before she was working with me, and was disappointed to find that her bright pink turned to mauve. She doesn't care too much what shade of pink (though the more vibrant the better). But she definitely doesn't want any of her colours shifting from one colour "name" (pink) to a different "name" (mauve).

                                 

                                Now, when I switch that page from RGB to CMYK I am already seeing that shift (to different extents, depending on what CMYK profile I choose).

                                 

                                So: Is colour management an overkill for me?

                                • 13. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                  Rick McCleary Level 3

                                  So: Is colour management an overkill for me?

                                  it's not a matter of "overkill" or not, nor even a matter of "Do I use it?" or not. Color management is happening all around you - in the images photographers and illustrators send to you to include in designs, in the proofs that printers make of your layouts, in the press sheets that come off the press.

                                   

                                  The correct question is: Do you want to have control over the color appearance of your work or not? Because if you don't control it, someone else will, and it may not be what you want.

                                   

                                  Look, color management is the 21st century version of basic process control. In the Renaissance, Leonardo was a process control freak - how to control new pigments, new carriers, new kinds of surfaces. He drew and saw color in a way that no one else did. Using the technology he had at that time, if he had left it up to his assistants or the ateliers to control his color, we wouldn't have his masterpieces as they appear today.

                                   

                                  Color management is one of the fundamentals you must have in your skill set as a designer. It's no less important than your knowledge of how leading and kerning work together to create a perfect balance in a block of text on a page.

                                   

                                  When you "see" a certain value and hue of color and how it will relate to another color in your design, that's the creative moment when your work comes alive. In our digital world, color management is how you communicate that color to your partners in the workflow.

                                   

                                  Photographer, illustrator, designer, printer. Color management allows us to communicate color with incredible precision.

                                  • 14. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                    TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                    The thing is, is any significant level of colour management going to be

                                    achievable with my limited hardware? (Basically just a an xrite calibrator

                                    puck).

                                    • 15. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                      Rick McCleary Level 3

                                      Switching between CMYK and RGB on Photoshop does make a big difference to the colours. Should I leave it at that?

                                      Well, it is what it is. RGB is a MUCH larger box of crayons than CMYK. So, when moving from RGB to CMYK compromises must be made.

                                      But she had a contract proof made of one page before she was working with me, and was disappointed to find that her bright pink turned to mauve. She doesn't care too much what shade of pink (though the more vibrant the better). But she definitely doesn't want any of her colours shifting from one colour "name" (pink) to a different "name" (mauve).

                                      Remember, she is working in a completely non-color-managed environment. (Uncalibrated/profiled monitor, non-color-managed graphics app.) IT's not at all surprising that there would be significant color shifts from what she sees on her monitor to the proof. You have to get her files into a color-managed system, make the adjustments, then have another proof made.

                                       

                                      Several previous posts in this thread contain excellent suggestions for how to get the most out of the CMYK space the printer specifies.

                                      • 16. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                        Rick McCleary Level 3

                                        Arïel wrote:

                                         

                                        The thing is, is any significant level of colour management going to be

                                        achievable with my limited hardware? (Basically just a an xrite calibrator

                                        puck).

                                        Yes. Think of it this way:

                                         

                                        In the print workflow (books, magazines, etc), we work in the make-believe world. Everything we do is a simulation of the final output (the press sheet). The image on our monitor is a simulation, the proof off the inkjet is a simulation, the printer's contract proof is a simulation. The only time the project becomes real is when the pressman pulls the sheet off the press. The project takes a long path from its inception to the press sheet. It's "touched" by many hands.

                                         

                                        The ideal is for each partner in the workflow to either:

                                        a: make a creative adjustment and be assured that it will not be changed on the final output (the artist, designer or photographer does this), or

                                        b: take the file and output it while remaining faithful to the intent of the artist (the printer does this).

                                         

                                        Your part of the workflow involves you making creative decisions while looking at your monitor. Only by using the best practices of color management can you accurately communicate those decisions to your partners down the line in the workflow.

                                         

                                        Calibrated/profiled monitor, controlled working environment, best practices in file handling. It's all you need!

                                        • 17. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                          Printer_Rick Level 4

                                          Arïel wrote:

                                           

                                           

                                          Given this, is it worth my pursuing the holy grail of "color management"? I suspect that it could do more harm than good, and won't really provide more accuracy, given my setup.

                                           

                                           

                                          I will definitely not be the only one to tell you that there is no harm in pursuing a good color management workflow. Doing so is part of being a responsible graphic designer. And it's not all that difficult.

                                           

                                          You have a good monitor and software, so it can be calibrated for accurate soft proofs. You don't have an ink jet, but that's not the end of the world. I would encourage getting the commercial printer to produce a contract color proof.

                                           

                                          You don't have a light booth? Take the contract proof outside on a sunny day, next best thing. That is especially important if you are comparing the proof to other things, like previously printed samples. You avoid some of the problems associated with metamerism.

                                           

                                          What's metamerism? It's a strange phenomenon that deals with different lighting conditions, and the different reflective properties of various substrates. What it means is, a proof can match another printed piece (or fabric, or wood, or whatever) in one lighting condition, but not in another. Strange but true.

                                           

                                          Some people dismiss it. They'll say "no normal person has contract light, why should I look at a proof under contract light". The real reason is the press can usually only match the proof under contract light.

                                           

                                          It's probably not a huge concern for your current project. I don't believe you're trying to match previous printings or anything like that. But it never hurts to be aware of metamerism.

                                           

                                          Like Rick McCleary said, if at all possible obtain a CMYK profile from the commercial printer. Find out if they prefer RGB or CMYK (it will probably be CMYK). Keep all your native RGB images. Use command Y to soft proof. Convert to the printer's CMYK and save copies.

                                          • 18. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                            TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            We're going to pick a printer next week, so then I'll have the profile (if they have one.)

                                             

                                            Meanwhile, I'm starting a new thread: "Help me calibrate", in which I attempt to calibrate my monitor. You're all welcome!!

                                            • 19. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                              Printer_Rick Level 4

                                              Arïel wrote:

                                               

                                              We're going to pick a printer next week, so then I'll have the profile (if they have one.)

                                               

                                               

                                              I don't know if anyone asked what kind of paper your project is being printed on. This is very important. Is it uncoated?

                                               

                                              Hopefully the printer will provide a CMYK profile. Are you on a mac or PC? You will need to know where to put the profile so Photoshop can see it. I can help if you're mac.

                                               

                                              Once profile is where it needs to be, do what Bret mentioned earlier. In Photoshop, go to View: Proof Setup: Custom. Select the printer's CMYK profile.

                                               

                                              All the other settings are open to debate. I like Relative Colorimetric intent, Black Point Compensation enabled. I usually don't bother with the additional display options myself (blank ink, paper white) but others may have a different opinion. Once you've got your settings right in the window, hit Save... and give it a good name. Now this proof condition will be available for future use in the Proof Setup pull down menu.

                                               

                                              When converting to CMYK, don't do Mode: CMYK. Choose Edit: Convert to Profile. Select CMYK, and use the profile and settings that correspond with your proof setup.

                                              • 20. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                                TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                Here are the paper specs:

                                                 

                                                Text 157 gsm GoldEast Matt art

                                                                                        

                                                Cover 310gsm C2S artboard 4c x 4c Gloss Lamination on outside only

                                                 

                                                 

                                                • 21. Re: Please check this workflow...
                                                  Printer_Rick Level 4

                                                  Not uncoated. That's a good thing.

                                                   

                                                  Good luck with your project!