Education is a Fundamental Key in Color Management Success
To use a commonplace from current narrative: faithful reproduction of color is part of human DNA. We have seen since prehistoric times how our Paleolithic ancestors looked for natural dyes to paint images of the animals that surrounded them.
And so continued the countless artists who developed creative solutions to match the colors of nature, such as pointillism in the late 19th century (1886, Georges Seurat), a concept identical to halftone that had been invented relatively a few years earlier (Talbot, 1852), and which led to the development of printing with four CMYK process colors in the early 20th century, remaining pillar of the largest industrial printing processes.
Already in 1931, theories had been formulated about the nature of color that closely coincided with human perception, leading to the definition of a rather ethereal concept of color space*, that mathematically gives life to a whole series of manipulations which in turn allow the close reproduction of colors on different equipment, the very essence of Modern Color Management.
Color Management Today
The technique of Digital Color Management today for the four process colors is a mature technique, with the absolute conviction that it works and produces the expected results, under process control conditions guaranteeing the success of your application. However, at a general level, it is a subject that continues to have some mystery. The main challenge for printing companies is how to apply it in a simple and continuous way. This challenge can only be solved in two ways: 1) by educating users on how to apply it successfully and 2) with the development of transparent and intuitive solutions to users in such a way that deep knowledge is not required to apply it.
In the quarter of century of life of color management programs, progress has been made on both fronts : very intuitive educational programs have been developed, measurement equipment has been integrated within the same reproduction equipment, world standards have been created through ISO and verification routines have been designed to guarantee compliance with those standards.
An outstanding example of those educational programs mentioned, is the one developed by the PRINTING United Alliance under the name of Boot Camp on Digital Color Management, which emphasizes the procedures followed by applications that manage color, in a practical way, leading students by the hand (regardless of being virtual) so that they can apply acquired knowledge successfully in their particular environments. It is the typical teaching to drive a car without having to explain the phenomenon of internal combustion and the Otto cycle, since cars are basically similar, the same rational applies to Color Management applications.
Creative minds with strong activity in the right hemisphere of their brains may not require as much mathematical explanation and equations. However, the experts from the Color Education Center Latam –those who developed the translation and dissemination of this program in Latin America- have found a solution to this educational challenge that has provided spectacular results: in a conversational, modern-era format and not the traditional academic one. CEC Latam experts teach those who wish to participate in the Boot Camp Certification program, through sessions on theoretical foundations of Color Management with the goal of introducing and exploring the new lexicology (ICC profiles, D50 lighting, metamerism, attempts at reproduction, etc.), for ease of comprehension, without full immersion.
Color Management Tomorrow
Although Color Management has reached maturity in traditional 2D printing processes, it is still in its infancy in relation to technological advances in prototyping (3D printing) and color reproduction at an industrial level where other references are used. The industry will continue see the development of new measurement equipment (hyper-spectral spectrophotometers) with fewer inter-instrumental deviations, greater portability and more sophisticated software that facilitates simple communications amongst production stakeholders, which is key in the new reality of working from home.
To learn more from Fabián Ruiz and others, visit PRINTING United Alliance's Online Spanish Workshops page.
Related story: Educación: Clave del éxito en Gestión de Color
Fabián Ruiz is a Chemical Engineer with a Master´s Degree in Printing Technology from RIT. He has been involved in teaching and education for the printing trade for more than 30 years, through GATF, PIA, and recently with PRINTING United Alliance. His activities also brought him to the Presidency of the Colombian Printing Association (Andigraf) in 2015.