Colour management comes into play at two primary points in the print production workflow: during file creation with authoring tools like the Adobe Creative applications (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), and then when the file is processed for output with a workflow software program such as Kodak Prinergy.
“The terminology that is often employed is colour cast, to indicate a shift toward a particular colour.”
Let’s examine the details in these most widely used software tools to provide concrete examples.
The primary tool for colour management in the Adobe products is the Color Settings dialog under the Edit menu.
Fortunately, these settings can be shared across all of the Adobe applications to coordinate a consistent delivery of colour strategy. Define your settings in Photoshop, as this is the application with the largest number of options, to guarantee that all possible options have been set to your choices.
Launch Photoshop and, from the Edit menu, choose Color Settings. There are three main sections to the dialog window: Working Spaces, Color Management Policies, and Conversion Options. Change the Settings option above the Working Spaces panel to North American Prepress 2. This applies a set of defaults that are optimal for a print production workflow.
Assessing the Effect of a Colour Profile
Once the profile is applied, what should we be looking for? Both on screen and when comparing hard-copy (printed) samples, there are specific areas of the image that should be checked. There is also industry-specific language used in describing colour appearance that it is helpful to be familiar with.
The areas of the image to pay special attention to are saturated colours, flesh tones, neutrals, and the highlights. Proof and print sample sheets will have four or five images that emphasize these areas along with tone ramps in the process and overprint colours. Focusing on these areas of interest will make it easiest to identify variation when checking for colour matching.
The terminology that is often employed is colour cast, to indicate a shift toward a particular colour; heaviness, to suggest excessive tone (particularly in the highlights); dirty, to specify too much complementary colour resulting in greying; and flat, to describe a lack of contrast and/or saturation. Knowing the terminology will help you understand the comments your co-workers may make and will help remind you of the types of analysis you should be doing.