Ensure Color Quality in Your Catalogs
Ensuring quality color reproduction in your catalog is not a black-and-white issue. To get the accurate, rich color you desire, procure the right combination of technology, equipment and skilled human labor.
And not just on press: The color process starts the minute your photographer sets up and lights the shot.
“Color is a dynamic issue. Every device from electronic to ink on paper, has a full range of color possibilities it can produce,” says digital photographer Glenn Martin, of Digital Outback in Reno, NV. Today, digital technology has added a new set of challenges and opportunities to the color-quality issue.
When it comes to production issues, every cataloger looks for the highest quality at the lowest price with the quickest turnaround.
But there’s a good deal more at stake when you’re talking color. To your catalog’s shoppers, what they see is what they’ll expect to get, so your color reproduction had better be on target. Otherwise you may be left with excess returns, or worse, unhappy customers.
There are three points in the catalog-production cycle in which color quality is impacted, according to Susan McIntyre, catalog consultant and president of McIntyre Direct: photography or image creation, prepress and printing.
At each of these stages, opportunities exist to create great catalog color—or get just so-so results. The outcome depends on how you choose to manage these processes.
Step 1: Photography and Image Creation
Starting with the creation of artwork, a series of control processes are needed to manage and monitor each step in the color process. “This begins at the digital photography or scanning stage,” Martin says.
In this step, great color requires great lighting, which requires a skilled photographer to set up the shot. McIntyre notes this is true regardless of whether the photographer is shooting traditional film or digital. “Digital will not change this. Somebody still must place and [accurately] balance the lights,” she says.