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Colour Management: How To Get The Right Colours

It is not easy to make your designs look equally amazing in print as they do on the screen. To get the best possible colours you need a proper colour management system. If you do not calibrate your devices properly, the images you have made will not be displayed to their full potential.


You must ensure that colour is standardized across all devices in the workflow. This means standardization of digital cameras, scanners, inkjet printers and monitors. No single device used in contemporary digital workflow is capable of reproducing the complete colour range visible to the human eye. Each device functions within a particular colour space which produces a gamut or range of colours- a subset of the whole spectrum. To give an example, monitors operate within the Red, Green and the Blue -RGB- colour space, while printers adhere to the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow along with the important or key (black) space).


The problem lies in the fact that the colour spaces of every device do not encompass identical gamut. Every monitor will not generate the same colour space. The same image viewed on a number of monitors could be observed to have a different colour or tone cast. There are other problems too. Since colour spaces are dependent on individual devices, there can be a considerable difference between the previewed image and the output image. A portrait shot of a beautiful and bright blue sky in actual life and in camera may end up as a faded or pale washed out image when printed. Adjusting the image to suit the monitor will not help as portraits could result in wrong skin tones at the time of output. This is the reason colour management needs device calibration.

Colour Care Workflow

If your sign involves a photo, then the camera must be calibrated first to capture the colours correctly. Use the advanced settings of digital SLRs for colour balance and white balance. However, you require a reference card for best results.

The monitor is central to the design process and is an essential area for ensuring colour consistency. A hardware centric calibrator is best used to achieve this. This will automate and also simplify the colour calibration. After the software is installed, you can create a customized profile that is compatible with International Colour Consortium (ICC) requirements. It sets the display to the reference state. The utilization of a hardware calibrator means that your display will reproduce colours to the best of its ability. The monitor should be calibrated at least once every month.

Many creatives have not limited their work to laptop or desktop monitors. Colour management tools can be applied on mobile devices as well. Apps are available for custom calibrated viewing when it comes to galleries and image portfolios on Android, iPhone and iPad devices. They can be integrated with Flickr and Facebook services.

Output calibration must follow input and preview steps. A spectrophotometer is important in this juncture. This device can read the many light wavelengths from the coloured ink patches found on printed material. By printing a standard set of squares this information can be used to create customized ICC profiles particularly for print. Since the white point is different for different materials to achieve the best possible results an ICC profile should be created for each material. To address the manufacturing tolerance between printers for the best results the ICC profiles should be created for each specific printer.

Colour Care Workflow

To eliminate the disappointment at the end of the process take control of all of the devices you can. By taking advantage of this available technology and tools you can make mismatched colour workflows and substandard output an event of the past.

Posted in Indoor Signs



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