How Does Colour Management Work?
Colour management is a technology used to gain consistent colour from a variety of different devices. Most people know that monitors can vary in their colour quality, and what you see on screen is not necessarily what you see in print. But there can also be large differences in colour from different printers, and even different medias on the same printer.
Most colours are specified as CMYK values. For an example, think of 30% Cyan. This is specifying 30% of the printers maximum amount of cyan, but what printer are we talking about? 30% cyan printed on a lithographic press will look dramatically different than 30% cyan printed on a eco-solvent inkjet printer—the technologies are completely different. But chances are, the offset press is the colour you are envisioning. So how do we specify what colour we actually want?
This is where colour management systems come into play. We print charts that contain varying amounts of CMYK colours, then read these charts with a spectrophotometer. A spectrophotometer is a device that reads the spectral values (colour) of the light being reflected from an object. From this data, we can build a profile of the device. So, for our example above, we can say that when Printer A prints 30% cyan, we get Colour A, and when Printer B prints 30% cyan we get Colour B. Now from that we can use a piece of software to tell us things like: what values would I need to match Colour A on Printer B? The answer might be 22% cyan and 4% yellow. Although simplified, this is essentially how colour management functions.
Hemlock Display creates custom profiles for every media/printer combination we use, even if the printers are the same make and model. This ensures that colours will be accurate and consistent between devices, and that we can get the maximum colour quality from each device. The colour conversions are all done in our image processing software, nothing has to be done by you.
Our Barbieri Spectro LFP is the the ideal spectophotometer for large format production and is the hub of our colour management program. It can automatically read charts printed on substrates up to 20mm thick, and can take transmissive readings for backlit applications.