Let There Be Light: A Case for Test Environment Lighting
Recent advancements in print technology, especially in terms of color precision and ink adhesion, have been incredible. As color quality and substrate versatility have improved, print providers have worked hard to study the interplay between carefully constructed colors and nontraditional substrates to help ensure consistency across campaigns and applications. However, just as important as those factors is one that is often overlooked: lighting.
When taking a customer’s order, be sure to ask them where the application will be used and how it will be lit — daylight, LED, fluorescents, etc. Even asking the question demonstrates a level of understanding and thoughtfulness that instills confidence in customers. But more importantly, as anyone who’s run an art gallery — or been to a glaringly lit grocery store — can attest, lighting can make a massive difference in how an item looks, highlighting or downplaying contrasts, cooling or warming colors, or helping specialty features sparkle (sometimes literally). For that reason, the best way to get reliably good marks from customers on image quality and color consistency is to observe the finished piece in a lighting environment that’s as close as possible to the one in which it will be displayed.
Many shops tackle this issue with the use of light booths. However, just having a light booth isn’t enough on its own. It’s important to make sure the light booth can be adjusted to mimic multiple environments — or use a variety of light sources. Important factors to consider — and which should be adjusted as much as possible for accuracy to where the application will be viewed — include color temperature, wall color, lighting angle, and style of lighting instrument.
Remember, the final product of print is not the sign, or window cling, or POP display, or whatever other printed and finished article you hand over to your customer. The final product is what the print buyer’s customers see. No matter how good an application looks on your shop floor, what will determine the likelihood of repeat business and positive word of mouth is how well your print drives results.
You’ve heard of “grow where you’re planted;” well, your print must be ready to shine where it’s shown.
To see such a test environment in action, visit Ricoh (Booth 7001) where on-site experts will set up and use a professional light booth to help discuss the process and other color management matters.