5 Replies Latest reply on Dec 10, 2009 9:06 AM by Printer_Rick

    Early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management

    kjhiugiog Level 1

      Hi all!


      I'm a graphic design student at Reading Uni in the UK, and I'm writing my BA dissertation on early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management for print production. I'm intending to write to a graphic designer audience from a designer's point of view. Please do comment here if you have anything to say on this topic, or you can point me to the right direction. I'm also looking for studios where I could conduct my case studies who employ early, medium or late binding workflows.

      Thank you.

        • 1. Re: Early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management
          John Danek Level 4

          Not sure what you are referring to in regards to early, mid, and late binding color management.  I've incorporated a workflow that incorporates color management in the applications and in the proof hardware here in the studio.  The print vendors do not have any problems taking the files and running them through their RIP and/or plate processors.  There's not enough room here to write about the entire workflow and how it works.  I've been in the business 30 years and the learning never stops.

          • 2. Re: Early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management
            frostbytefalls Level 1

            Will your paper have a title like  "Color Management is Fun and Easy" or "The Fiasco of Color Management"?

             

            Notice that in the past week you and I are the only posts on this forum! This is the Color Management forum on Adobe's website. Shouldn't it be really busy?

             

            It appears, that even after nearly ten years  I can't remember when color management first began to appear in prepress software), the industry has not embraced color management.

             

            The promise of color management since I can remember was  that we could make color documents and not need to know how they would be printed. In other words a late binding workflow; that latest possible, just before making the plates or screens or engravings, etc. After forty hours of reading on the net and testing I am almost positive this is impossible if Illustrator is in the workflow.

             

            Illustrator documents must be either RGB or CMYK not both. So if there are any colors that need to be preserved as CMYK (like 100 K black) you must work in CMYK meaning a mid binding color management workflow. The only thing I can think of is to find, or make, the widest gamut CMYK profile so that the fewest colors are hacked off.

             

            But really how can this all be so messed up? What good reason could Adobe have for doing this? (I can think of several but they all contridict themselves.)

             

             

            I preped some files the other day that were going to a printer I wasn't familiar with; one of the premium houses here in my area. I called them and asked how they wanted the files sent to them. I was hoping they had profiles for me or would spec some kind of PDF/x document that they would handle. No they wanted the source files and when I asked do you want the images in RGB then said, "No." So I asked which profile did they want me to use to convert to CMYK and the answer was, "What do you mean?" I said which CMYK do you want? The answer was, "The one everybody uses." I used SWOP and sighed.

             

            IF I'M WRONG I would love to hear about it.

             

            Good luck

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management
              Printer_Rick Level 4

              frostbytefalls wrote:

               

               

               

              Illustrator documents must be either RGB or CMYK not both. So if there are any colors that need to be preserved as CMYK (like 100 K black) you must work in CMYK meaning a mid binding color management workflow. The only thing I can think of is to find, or make, the widest gamut CMYK profile so that the fewest colors are hacked off.

               

              Actually you can have CMYK based colors in RGB Illustrator, as long as they are spot.

               

              For example you could save the RGB Illustrator with CMYK based spot colors in native format, then place in InDesign. In InDesign Ink Manager "All Spots to Process".

               

              It's a little unorthodox but it's a valid workflow.

               

               

               

              IF I'M WRONG I would love to hear about it.

              You aren't wrong, color management can get pretty screwed up. Since there are so many different destination CMYKs print results can vary dramatically. The size of the destination CMYK often determines how big a letdown a designer experiences when the RGB gets converted. For example it's not like a wide gamut Pro Photo is going to move to newsprint without taking a hit.

               

              That's why communication is important. It takes extra effort to calibrate and profile devices. Also View: Proof Setup is extremely important when designing in RGB for print.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management
                kjhiugiog Level 1

                Thank you all for your answering.

                 

                John, by the time of binding here I mean the stage when the conversion to the final CMYK ICC profile occurs, in an early binding workflow you would start off by converting all images to the destination profile, while in a late binding workflow this is done just before printing.

                 

                Frostbytefalls, the working title of my paper is the same as of this discussion, but to answer your real question, I of course don't want to hide the complexity  and imperfection of color management, but I also want to avoid sounding too discouraging. My hope is to introduce different strategies dealing with these issues rather than scaring people off straight away. Of course this requires that I am familiar with the problems.

                 

                Although I see very little of the industry, I also have the impression that color management is far not given enough importance to. I think a large part of the problem is that mostly printers and prepress people are the ones employing color management, while designers whom most files originate from tend to be poorly educated on the subject, and it often stops at using CMYK for print and RGB for screen; whatever the generic profile the application throws up. That's one of the reasons I want to write to a designer audience, as I am designer myself and I think there is a need to improve this. However the situation at least on the Adobe forum is not as tragic as you see it; I think the main reason for the low activity on the color management forum is that is relatively hidden. There are several threads on color management other Adobe forums. For this very reason I also posted this question in the InDesign forum.

                 

                To Frostbytefalls and Rick: Thank you both for your points and remarks on Illustrator. Please allow me another question regarding Illustrator: is there not a way to assign ICC profile to illustrator documents, or it's just me who's having trouble finding it? If there isn't, how does Illustrator fit into an ICC based workflow?

                 

                Viktoria

                • 5. Re: Early and late binding workflows in ICC based color management
                  Printer_Rick Level 4

                  The Illustrator document profile can be seen under Edit: Assign Profile.

                   

                  One problem with Illustrator is what Frostbyte pointed out, the document must either be in RGB or CMYK mode, not both. This causes a lot of problems, the impure CMYK black being only one of them.

                   

                  There are workarounds, like the spot color option I mentioned earlier, or the "Preserve Black" conversion feature in Acrobat Pro.

                   

                  Also I should point out that you can have a CMYK Illustrator document with RGB image links. They must remain links. If they are embedded they become CMYK. Note that if you save as native Illustrator with "Include Linked Files" enabled, this embeds the images, so avoid using that option. Even if it is unchecked, the high resolution image data is still included with the PDF output portion of the AI file, as long as "Create PDF compatible file" is checked.

                   

                  This means that a user can choose to work in RGB in Photoshop, place the tagged image in CMYK Illustrator as a link, and it can pass though to the next stage of the workflow as source RGB.

                   

                  It is important never to save Illustrator as EPS. EPS does not support transparency and this can cause many color issues. Saving in native format preserves transparency in the output portion of the file, which is what InDesign sees. In rare instances the native format may cause a problem, if so save a PDF copy from Illy using the PDF/X-4 standard.

                   

                  Even though Illustrator is limited to one mode, InDesign and PDF are not. This means that both InDesign and Acrobat offer solutions when designing in RGB for print.