To close out the “Wide-Format 101” half-day event on Wednesday, Jim Raffel, CEO of ColorCasters, discussed how to get color that has a common visual appeal across every type of print technology.
The goal is to create pieces that look very similar to the human eye no matter the media or print technology used. However, because each device in the process uses a different language of color, getting a perfect match isn’t always possible. By striving to produce work that has a similar look and feel, however, a shop gets to the true heart of what real color management actually achieves.
Raffel suggested that attendees look at their RIP software. Go into the color management settings, he said, and you’ll find that most, by default, are set to adjust color automatically using a perceptional method. With this engaged, the software will use complex algorithms to try to find the closest match inside the available spectrum to a color that can’t otherwise be reproduced. For some applications, he said, this is actually a good way to manage it.
But for many jobs, changing to a relative method setting will actually provide better results. In this setting, the RIP will move out of spectrum color to the closest point it can find in the available color space.
Another setting every printer should change, Raffel said, is in Photoshop. By default, the color space is set to either sRGB or US Web Coated SWOP version 2, which was created more than 20 years ago. Instead, he suggested everyone update their settings to use Adobe RGB 1998 if working in the RGB space, and GRACoL 2006 or 2013 for working in CMYK. These standards are more modern, and will make a huge difference for things like grey balance, Raffel said.
Finally, it is worth it, he said, to take the time to make custom profiles. It will allow a shop to take their color to the next level, and get far better results across the board.