How to Achieve Great Color Every Time (1,549 words)
How to achieve great color every time
By Jim Chase and Ken Peterson
"Through informed use of digital technologies,
the catalog marketer
can achieve better color performance on press and greater control of the
final product than were possible using film."
— Tom O'Connor, Banta Catalog Group
Has this ever happened?
You're on a press check, trying to get the color you expected when you sent the job in. First, you work the mid-tones to get a good balance. Bam, your solids and solid overprints go south on you. The olives and plums are too blue, and the oranges are growing mold. The whole page looks flat and lifeless, and what you see on the printed sheet couldn't really be called "color." So, to get more color, you have them add more ink, and all three colors are added evenly. The mid-tones are completely off and detail is gone.
If you've ever had a print job come off press looking like gremlins had gone in and exchanged the bright, snappy inks you expected with dull, lifeless ones, you know that not all the results of the digital revolution in prepress have been wonderful.
There is hope. A skilled art director should be able, with a little effort, to understand and manage the color reproduction process successfully.
First Things First: The Printing Partnership
Printers still have a responsibility to communicate and assist in managing their end of the printing process to their customers. The printer must communicate his requirements for file and proof preparation, and be ready to explain how these affect the final product. Printers must also operate within established practices. They must print using standard process inks, print at standard densities and achieve standard color balances. Most printers use SWOP standards (Specifications for Web Offset Publications, a non-profit industry group that establishes and publishes standards for publications printing). By maintaining these targets, the printer establishes a basis for the entire print job. Customers know that if their file is prepared correctly, it will print as predicted.