Workflow help

Mark Strozier PRO 2:31pm, 9 November 2005
In my work: I shoot digital (RAW, although I never seem to use the NEF files), design for the web(RGB) and design for print (CMYK). Also, I rarely scan anything, nor do I print anything in-house.

I understand the need for a really good monitor (which I don't think I have), as well as the need for calibration for accurate color output. The whole calibration thing is where my IQ starts slipping and before long I'm left in a puddle of drool.

Ugh... Where to start?
colorcritical 13 years ago
Perfect question to start off this new group. Yes, this whole thing can get crazy. A good display is absolute and I have several recomendations. First I recomend LaCie and thier electron blue series. They used to make a wonderful CRT but CRT's are getting harder and harder to come by. I like the LaCie becasue it offers full hardware control over brightness, contrast, and gun control (RGB). If you can still find a electron blue CRT you have a winner for the cost, otherwise you will have to get thier LCD which is also amazing. I also recomend if you can afford it the Eizo ColorEdge series these montors are the choice for digital imaging but cost $2400.00.

As far as calibration I do a lot of work for GretagMacbeth and really love thier products for many reasons. - Look for i1 Display, it's about $250.00 and will calibrate and profile your monitor beautifully. As far as good information on color management well there are resources as vast as the Real World Color Management book by Bruce Fraser which is great if your going into color geekdom, but if you want a practical guide I like Joshua Weisbergs book Color Management for Mac or Windows.

Keep the questions comming!

Mark Strozier PRO 13 years ago
Thanks Professor. This is the kind of information I was hoping for.

Regarding color management, more specifically color space, is calibration a "set it and forget it" thing or do I have to match/change color profiles for the type of work I'm doing at any one time?
TangoPango PRO 13 years ago
Hi, I'm TangoPango aka Kimberly -- I'm a color professional who has had the pleasure of working with the kind Professor Marc . . . but not for the same company.

Custom profiles are specific to complete settings and are different from calibration.

Calibration is nothing more than getting your printer into or back to a "known state".

Once a printer calibrated and is in that plain-vanilla condition, an ICC profile applied appropriately in the job application is able to make the fine adjustments to compensate for deficiencies in color - based on 'printer-ink-quality mode-file color space' combinations.

If a profile is written, for example, for an HP Designjet 130nr for use with photo satin media in productivity-quality mode - an alternative profile should be used when using the same media in the same printer with a different quality mode.

Any group of ICC profiles that ships with a printer represents a manufacturer's best attempt to provide a tool for the masses. Your color will look better using this diluted tool than not using a profile at all . . . but will never be as good as using a custom profile. Any tool that's made to fit every printer will be less accurate than a tool custom made for YOUR printer.

This need for a different tool also crosses into the colorspace of the original you are printing. Profiles written for CMYK are not the profiles to be used for files that at RGB in nature.

For the record, I took a one-on-one class from Marc on how to use my i1. Since then I've fixed some very impressive photo professionals, including a feature photographer from National Geographic Magazine - he's a tough color customer, believe me. If it hadn't been for Marc teaching me so well . . . Marc probably would have gotten the contract himself!! Love to Marc
Mark Strozier PRO 13 years ago
blink, blink.

Did I mention the drool thing?

Seriously though, if I am understanding you correctly I need to have seperate profiles for each colorspace I'm working in, (rgb/cmyk). AND have seperate profiles for each printer, more specifically each imagesetter that outputs my files to film for offset printing? Not to mention direct-to-plate applications.

Is there a way to simplify?
TangoPango PRO 13 years ago
Yep, pretty much. You need a profile for each variation in your workflow.

Profiles for each imagesetter and printer . . . absolutely, if you want the best output possible.

Even if you have two identical output devices, each will have it's own characteristics.

I'm concerned that this discussion is too generic to help beyond creating awareness of the overall situation.

A color-managed workflow is a GORGEOUS thing to behold. But each workflow is a bit different. But optimizing your workflow is going to be worth it. The goal is:
Accurate, predictable and consistent color from every device, under all circumstamces in your workflow.

Your requirememts for CTP, imagesetting . . . and/or perhaps color accurate inkjet or laser comps and proofs are different from anyone elses'.

To simplify it . . .
It doesn't really get simple until the profiling pieces are all in place. Once it's profiled, it's a snap to maintain.

The place to start is with the tool to create your own profiles. I use a Gretag i1.

It's much more simple than people guess. The software actually does all the work. The operator just prints the targets. Once the profiles are created, an end-user just applies them in their application.

If it's impossible to add that equipment to your collection (I think it's under $2,000) -- there are plenty of folks that do it for a service.

My pal ColorCritical is in a good position for that.
Phil Nesmith 12 years ago
This is late but I wanted to add for R80o tat I use two Lacie Photon 19 Visons and have been happy with them. Many image pros pointed me in the direction of Lacie's display products. Im happy to see that my friend Color also has good things to say about them. Good luck.
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