The printing process and the ability to use / link different devices together has become simpler and a lot more efficient. At every stage of the process, from taking a photo on a camera, to uploading, editing and then printing or sharing with others, we want to be able to check that the final print quality is as expected. To do this successfully we need to make sure that colours stay the same throughout the workflow process and this is why it's important to think about colour management.
The most important part of colour management is to look at the differences of various workplace settings (client, designer, prepress and printer) and the differences between devices, and offer an environment where the same piece of data, such as an image file, will always looks the same no matter what device it is used on.
As we use the same digital data from start to finish it's easy to presume that colours won't differ at any stage of the process but devices do reproduce colours differently as do different monitors. What this means is that the colour we see may not always be the same at each stage of the workflow process.
Devices such as scanners, printers and other input / output devices generate colours differently and have differing colour reproduction areas for colour reproduction. What this means is even though the same data may be used on each device, the colours shown will differ. The same goes for monitors as they all reproduce colours differently and other factors such as how old the monitor is and how much use it has had will also change how it displays colours.
One way to ensure colour management can be conducted uniformly from the start of your workflow is by using a shared colour space.
A colour space can be thought of as a digital colour palette and common colour spaces include Adobe RGB and sRGB. By knowing what colour space your monitor etc. displays images in, you'll have a better understanding of how your images will appear when printed. Many scanners, digital cameras and editing software such as Adobe Photoshop use the Adobe RGB colour space, for example.
Monitors and printers have their own color idiosyncrasies and it is impossible to make them a perfect match. However, it is possible to convert the colour data of each device via a common colour space (a colour space independent of any device) so that the various colours can match more closely. This is the basic principle of colour management.
Calibrating monitors will also help ensure that colours remain consistent, and it's recommended that this process is completed about once a week until the display stabilises (if new). Afterwards, calibration once a month or after 200 hours of use (whichever comes first) is appropriate. This is because a monitor's ability to correctly reproduce correct colours will deteriorate over time. How quickly this happens will depend on how often your monitor is used.
As well as calibrating your device to compensate for changes in the display over time monitors can also be calibrated for a specific purpose. For example, you may be sending proofs to a client and need to calibrate your monitor to match their needs. This could mean altering the colour temperature or brightness, for example. By doing so you'll see what the client sees and should save time.
Other methods include using and installing appropriate machinery as well as deciding and sharing rules for colour management with work staff to remain consistent.
Visit the EIZO
website for more information.