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Color-Management Aids

(August 2012) posted on Mon Aug 06, 2012

Take a look at the many aids available.

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By Tony Quinn

Have you ever bought a new computer and then a month later you see a better model with more features for two-thirds of the price you originally paid? We all have! The same situation can arise when evaluating color-management aids or tools. The way to avoid falling into this pitfall is to find the right solution for the specific job. Ensure that the hardware or software you intend to get will help you to meet the set goal.
The purpose of this article is to give insight into the many options available for color-management tools. This is a big topic; therefore, it would be impossible to mention every tool, piece of hardware or software. Most color-management aids and tools cross over between digital and separation workflows.
A color-management aid or tool is normally classified as a software package or an instrument. If it is software-based, an instrument to capture color data is required. You have to get the color data into the software to complete the evaluation. Many instruments have the ability to report color data back to the user, eliminating the need for computer software. However, if capturing data for future reference is the goal, software-based color-management tools would be recommended.
Before you invest in a color-management aid, first, clearly define what you’re trying to achieve. Ask, why do I need a color-management aid? What am I trying to accomplish? Good examples of color management goals requiring an aid or tool are:

Develop a control point in production to gauge print consistency and repeatability.
Compare the printed color to an industry specification.
Evaluate print-color consistency from printer to printer.
Gauge print consistency from the color-approved press sheet through the end of the production run.
Create media configurations for new materials in digital printing.
Develop press curves to achieve gray balance control.

In each of the color-management goals listed, it’s nearly impossible to complete any of the goals without some form of tool or aid. Imagine working as a plumber and the only tool you had was a pair of needle-nose pliers when the job called for a pipe wrench. The same mindset can be used when it comes to color-management aids and tools. Pick the right tool for the job. It is amazing to see how many printers are using needle-nose pliers when the job calls for something else entirely.


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