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Digital Printing & Proofing Tips

After returning from FESPA, Munich I just had couple of days left to prepare for my workshop at DMI. There after I had to finish my long new presentation for our unique road shows. These shows are organized by us (GRAFICA FLEXTRONICA) to launch our unique NANO PREMIER LEAGUE series in various every cities of India.

Till now with my team I completed 6 road shows, 3 in Maharashtra (Nashik, Aurangabad & Pune) & 3 in Gujarat (Surat, Ahmedabad & Rajkot). All shows were jam packed and very much interesting and had many uniqueness. I shall post full report with photos of my workshop and these road shows soon. Just to give an idea every city we had over 100 to 150 printers but Ahmedabad had a rocking figure 275 printers. Isn’t it amazing. Every where for me and for printer it was a WOW feeling.

In the mean time just enjoy this video tutorial from Dr. Russell Brown who is one of the chief engineer and scientist of ADOBE. In this tutorial he has cleared all doubts about digital printing and proofing.

Printers today gets digital proof either from their customer or they do it in-house using EPSON or HP digital printers for matching our screen prints.

So its important to understand the color management issues using analog vs digital technology.

Download these 2 videos which shall help you to generate correct proof using accurate printing parameters.

Printing to the Epson Stylus Pro 3800

Printing to the HP Photosmart Pro 9180

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Have a cheerful and informative week.

Bhargav
00:50, 19th July 2010

Image Resolution

To determine the proper resolution, you need two pieces of information: the final output dimensions and the resolution. (For Web, you need only the pixel dimensions and can ignore resolution.) You determine the resolution based on the image’s output device.

If the image will be printed on an inkjet printer, use an image resolution that’s one-third the printer’s rated resolution. For example, if the printer is listed at 1440×720 resolution, the image should have a resolution of 240 ppi. If the printer has a resolution of 1440×1440, the image resolution can be 480 ppi (although 240 ppi is probably fine.) You almost never need to go over 300 ppi. (Print some test images to determine what your printer is capable of doing.)

If the image will be printed commercially on an offset press through screen printing process, you need to know the line screen frequency of the press, measured in lines per inch (lpi). Multiply that number by 1.5 or 2 to find the appropriate image resolution.

Have a nice time…

Bhargav

Color calibration – Part 2 – Playing with profiles

In Part 1, we spoke of how every device interprets color differently, the process of calibrating your equipment, and what color profiles actually are. In this installment, we’re going to chat more about color profiles: how they can be created manually or purchased, and what the pros and cons are of each.

Creating your own color profiles
Pros
1. It’s rewarding! Once you learn to make your own profiles, you’re set to jet when you use a different printers, inks, and papers. It’s a super valuable talent to add to your skillset and you’ll be the envy of all your friends. Honest.
2. It’s a completely custom creation of your very own. Once you’ve gone through the process, you can be assured that you’ll be pleased with the results each time you print, because, well, you made it.
3. Third party software is available to help, such as traditional profile maker Monaco EZcolor (www.monacosys.com) and ColorVision PrintFIX (www.colorvision.com). Both companies have good reputations and the software is under Rs. 25000.

Cons
1. To do it right, you really need to invest in a light source that is the same color temperature as your monitor. This is what you’re going to hold your test prints under to judge the color matching.
2. You’re going to print a fair number of test images, which means you’re going to go through some ink and paper. Use the kind of paper you’re going to be printing on (i.e. the good stuff!) to ensure consistent results.
3. It’s time consuming. Expect about a 12-step process with a good dose of trial and error. It involves creating (or finding) a test chart, which includes a colorful image plus a set of standard colors (for your particular operating system), and shades of gray in approx. 10% increments. The goal is to get your printer to duplicate (as closely as possible) the way your test chart looks onscreen. This is done by tweaking your printer adjustments in Photoshop through File > Page Setup, choosing the name of your printer and clicking the Properties button. From there you set Media type (what kind of paper you’re using), Quality, and a host of other color adjustments in the printer’s Advanced Options dialog. You then print the test image and compare it under your special light. Basically, you keep tweaking the settings in the Advanced Options dialog and printing proofs until you get the colors to match. Once you’re successful, save the Profile.

Downloading/purchasing color profiles
Pros
1. It’s faster than creating your own.
2. There is no learning curve, as there is above,
3. Some companies will give them to you for free. Check around the paper and ink companies, as well as user group sites.

Cons
1. These profiles are created by somebody else’s eyes; thus, you may not be 100% pleased with the results. Just like mechanical devices, individual sets of eyeballs interpret color differently.
2. They can be pricey, as you will need a different profile for each combination of printer, ink and paper that you use. Profiles can cost around Rs.1250 each.
3. Some profiles are only available in sets, which may include some you don’t need.
4. You have no new skill to brag about to your Photoshop-ing friends 🙂

That’s all for now, folks!

Bhargav

Color calibration – Part 1 – Learning the language

We really don’t ask for much. We want/need our prints to match what we see on our screens. What’s the big deal? How can this be so hard? After a few frustrating attempts at adjusting things on your own, you may start to research this phenomenon. Whoa! You suddenly find yourself assaulted with all kinds of cryptic terms and acronyms that could send you running to the nearest pub, or worse, spending thousands of dollars on a color calibration solution that you know nothing about. You could go out and buy a book but holy mother of THOR you don’t exactly have time to sit down and read a big, honkin’ tome. There’s just got to be an easier way. In this article series, I hope to shed a bit-o-light on the mystery of color calibration. In part 1, we’ll cover the most common terms associated with this evil mess, enabling you to speak its language. But first, let’s chat for a moment about why it’s all necessary.

Why should I care?
We all know that computers are basically stupid until programmed. They need instructions for everything, including how to interpret and display color. With so many different manufacturers of monitors, scanners, printers, cameras, etc., you can imagine it’s unlikely that they’re all getting the exact same instruction set. Therein lies the problem. When the exact same color values are sent to two different monitors, the results usually vary. Same thing happens when you send the exact same color values to different printers; they yield different results. The solution lies in a process somewhat analogous (albeit more involved) to the way you can tell your camera what color is white (also called setting the white balance). With a little knowledge, we can learn how to communicate with our devices regarding color, and improve their communication between each other, and avoid the dreaded print shock syndrome when your print looks nothing like what you see onscreen.

What is color calibration?
This is the process of updating or recreating a device’s (scanner, printer, or monitor) color profile (defined below). All this means is that you’re attempting to set the hardware and software so that optimum (predictable!) color results can be achieved. Once a device is calibrated, it can be integrated into a color management system, which we’ll talk about later on in the series.

What is color workspace?
This refers to the working colorspace in which a current job is kept. Think of it this way: you pull a file out of a filing cabinet and place it on your desk in order to work on it, right? And when finished your put it back into the filing cabinet, off your desk. Each time you open an electronic document, your computer grabs it from the hard drive and tosses it into RAM (random access memory) for perusal and editing. Once you save and close it, it disappears from RAM and resides simply on your hard drive, with the changes you just made. See the logic of something traveling from one place to another while active, and then back? Same thing with colorspace. When you open a document in an image manipulation application like Photoshop, it’s tossed into your current color workspace for editing. But you need to see it, right? Now your screen or monitor tries to interpret the color values it’s receiving from Photoshop in order to properly display and update it as you are editing (it’s rather vital to see what the heck you are working on and what changes you are making). To do this, the color values of your workspace need to be converted to the color values of your screen. This is called a ‘conversion’ and it’s being done constantly as the image is being edited and updated. These conversions are performed with (brace yourself)… math (shiver).

What are color profiles?
Every device, as we learned above, reproduces color differently because of the instructions it was given at ‘birth.’ When color producing devices start communicating with each other, they carry with them their own method of color interpretation. Remember the colorspace conversions we spoke of in the paragraph above? Those conversions all require a profile. Your computer’s operating system supplies the screen (monitor or display) profile, which makes sense if you remember that it’s the computer itself who’s sending the screen instructions and signals. The working colorspace of the current job is determined by whichever colorspace you’ve chosen in Photoshop, under Color Preferences.

Remember how Photoshop dutifully notifies you when opening a document that the colorspace is different and wants to know if you’d like to convert it? This means that the colors in your source document are in a colorspace which differs from the working colorspace you’ve chosen in Photoshop. Photoshop knows this because the source document has a colorspace profile associated with it which define its color values. Each time you create a new document in Photoshop, the profile of your current workspace is attached to it. Perhaps a few lightbulbs are beginning to flicker, yes?

Not only can each device and document have their own profiles, there are even profiles for specific combinations of printer, ink, and paper. Profiles can be created manually or purchased, and we’ll discuss pros and cons of both in the next installment.

Take a rest now, and I’ll see you soon in Part 2

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