In today’s business climate, establishing and maintaining a consistent brand image is vital. If you want your business to stay on top, you need to pay extra care to colour management and matching in your design and print jobs.
Digital images change when transferred from a camera to a display device, or to a printer. Due to many factors, the final image will be slightly different from the original version. Producing accurate colour matches has long been a challenge for the graphic arts community.
In the past, only the top publishing houses and print shops specialized in colour management and matching but now even the smallest designers have many options available to ensure a quality end product. There are some simple steps you should take to ensure all of your images are as close as possible to what you envisioned.
Calibration is key
One of the first steps is to make certain your designer calibrates their screen to ensure proper colour matching across all of your documents and collateral. Without taking this simple, yet often-overlooked first step, all of your colour management efforts will be for naught. Setting up a profile on your monitor is easier than ever and there are inexpensive tools that will help you do this in just a few minutes. Most contemporary LCD and CRT monitors come equipped with colour profiles. If you’re using a Mac, look for “ICC profile” and if you use a Windows computer, you’ll need to find the ICM (Image Colour Matching) settings to calibrate your profile.
Establish and follow branding guidelines
Having specific Pantone numbers for your brand’s colour guidelines is also very important. Instead of attempting to visually match your colours, you may wish to invest in a colorimeter, which will accurately measure colours for you. If you use a large assortment of paper that’s not from your printer vendor, you may want to acquire a printer profiling tool, since it can profile a wider range of paper. Similarly, if you use third party inks, you should profile your printer, as the factory settings on most printers are based on the manufacturers’ inks and papers.
Finally, consider the actual conditions under which you view your colours. Lighting has a profound effect when evaluating colour. Fluorescent lighting is not the optimal light source when examining colours. The closer your environment mirrors natural daylight, the better. Standardizing how you evaluate colour—including the camera, the display device, the printer, and the lighting—will produce more consistent results. If you have questions, or need more information on colour management check out Adobe’s Colour Management discussion forum.
Brittany Giles is the Social Media Specialist at The Printing House.