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Keys to Color Management

(May 2008) posted on Mon May 12, 2008

Twelve critical factors in implementing a successful color strategy.

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By Stephen Beals

The one thing people seem to understand about color management in today’s market is that it can work extremely well. What’s often lacking, however, is an understanding of how to make it happen. There are a lot of pitfalls and misunderstandings when it comes to actually implementing color management in a shop, and as a result, some implementations fall short of their potential.

To help, let’s identify the most common obstacles to effective color management, then devise solutions to those challenges. As we work our way through the topic, my goal here is to serve as your "color-management guide," helping you find your way through the process, all the while avoiding some of the most common errors I’ve seen.

One: Do a Systems Overview

The priority when setting up a color-management system is to take a broad overview of the entire operation to determine precisely what needs have to be met. How many machines are involved? Are there multiple sites to consider? What types of inks and media are being used, and how often is the ink or media changed in a given machine? Are there temperature and humidity controls? What is the lighting in the print and proofing area? Is there a need for remote or monitor proofing?

Jim Summers of GMG Americas, which produces color-management software, says the answers to all of these questions are important in determining what software and hardware is needed, how often calibration is needed, how many machines and media need to be profiled, and so on.