Think Color Is Easy? Think Again.
Think great color is something everyone can do? Think again. Getting accurate, high-quality color takes effort. Here is a peek behind the curtain at what it takes to give you the best color day after day, and job after job, even when projects are months apart.
- Define independent color space.
Your computer monitors operate in the RGB color space. Our presses operate in CMYK. The two spaces work very differently, and there is a delicate and complex conversion process that must take place between them. Adding to the challenge is that RGB and CMYK are device-dependent. This means that the same colors look different on different devices.
How do we get the two in sync? First we define color by metrics unrelated to the devices themselves — how color looks to the eye. Take the color of a red apple. On your computer monitor, “apple red” is defined by a set of numbers called CIE L*a*b, which is an objective, device-independent measurement what the eye sees. That CIE L*a*b value corresponds to an ICC color profile, which is an objective measurement of how that monitor “sees” and outputs color.
- Translate to “press language.”
Now that we have an ICC profile that translates color accurately from the eye to the monitor, we need to be able to reproduce that color on press. Every press is unique, so the ICC color profile for the RGB monitor is translated into an ICC profile for the CYMK press.
- Workflow steps to make it happen.
Next is to get that color onto paper. This starts with making choices at the RIP (the equipment that processes the job before it is sent to the press) to ensure that the settings match the ones in the software used by your designer. It also requires regular calibration of our presses to make sure that the color is not only accurate but repeatable.
Getting great color is not a magic trick. It requires a lot of craft, science, and hard work. That’s why you don’t want to trust your color to just anyone. We hope you continue to trust us with your most color-critical jobs.