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Alternatives for Print-Device Simulation: An Overview of Modern Approaches to Neutralizing Color Out

(May 2007) posted on Thu May 24, 2007

Tired of tying up presses and personnel as you try to emulate the output of your printing equipment? Discover some powerful methods you can use to improve color matching with any CMYK inkset, substrate, or line count on any printing device.


By Mike Ruff

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Simulated appearance

When people tell you their work matches an international standard, you have to ask which one. The reason you have to ask is because there are different standards for different line counts and different substrates. These standards are referred to as appearances. Table 1

illustrates examples of international print-appearance standards. Its numbers serve as proof that international-standard appearances create workflow environments that accept multiple color standards based on line count, substrate, and even the type of printing device—all of which lead to confusion about what a file should look like when it’s printed.

International standards groups that want to equalize different appearances typically subscribe to the thinking that a 150-line/in. graphic won’t match a 175-line/in. graphic in color, or that an 85-line/in. image won’t match the color in work printed at 65 lines/in. It’s true that colors won’t match in these cases when the file output is linearized for use with different line counts and on a variety of substrates. The higher line counts are susceptible to dot gain. The more gain, the darker the image appears. Low-quality paper also contributes to gain, as well as a reduction in solid density, and thus a different color.

I believe this is outdated thinking that recalls the days before color management began to correct these tonal values and solid overprints. Today, line count—and even the substrate—can be corrected to match very closely to a specific target. We don’t have to accept linear appearance. If the color of the solids are close, then they’ll match almost exactly. If the solids are different, they can still match in the 25%, 50%, 75% areas—the bulk of most images. So why do most of the standards organizations stay on the path of designating different appearances for different line counts and paper qualities?


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