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FLEXO Magazine : July 2011
a job on a digital or wide format print device. For some brand owners and printers, extended gamut ink sets are accepted— but not for everyone. Even with seven or eight colors, there are only so many colors you can reproduce with mixtures of all the inks. Some brand owners have accepted ink sets that expand the color gamut, but it is also well known that others will not—for example, there are no substitutes for Coke or Kraft reds. Either way, pure color management is good for any- one, whether expanded gamut or not. It helps the designer achieve a truer rendition. Although each member of the supply chain has different needs, consistency can only be achieved if we are able to share the same color data. A centralized color library speaks volumes for good color management. One of the best places to start is with a revers- ible color management system. Today, designers usually work with a Pantone library or other specialized color ink system, such as Hexachrome, FM6 and other ink sets. Unfortunately, this is a loose color specification. Because of differences in inks, substrates and the available gamut on a press, these colors may not be achievable. The result is that they will require an ink adjustment on press. Also, it won’t work with ink libraries for specialized sys- tems— for example, some brand owners have their own special ink sets and insist on color-matched inks for their lo- gos. If you do not have a good color library to deal with color management for these special sets, there’s a good possibility that you’re going to fail. The best color set to design from should be from a legiti- mate prepress/print library. So now, instead of taking colors from the application’s library, you can use the real color or a smart color library to make sure you are designing with the actual colors—profiled colors. There’s a good reason for this: A brand owner’s iteration of a specific Pantone color has a specific L*A*B value, depend- ing upon a specific stock, surface or even reverse print. Opening these libraries allows designers to design with exact iteration of color to be reproduced on press. Knowing the limitations of inks will dictate design to some degree. For example, using a typical, generic flexo process and designing raw CMYK in an Adobe Illustrator file, cyan will print closer to process blue, magenta looks more like rubine red, yellow appears to be more like Pantone 106 or 109 than a pure yellow, and the black may look a little grayer. If you are able to use a centralized color specification system and import these colors into Illustrator, you can replace an Illustra- tor cyan with the true flexo cyan , for example. This will offer a more realistic representation of how the design will look. PLUG-INS: MAKE IT WORK Of course, if many color management tools reside in the designer’s favorite applications, the journey of color manage- ment starts on a good note. Software companies have devel- oped plug-ins to assure that consistent color management is implemented at the start. With a good ink/color library it’s much easier to remap colors. Designers can look for the best match to an existing link. From there, inks in the job can be mapped to the library ’s ink sets in interactive applications, by using plug-ins available for applications such as Adobe Illustrator. The plug-ins know how to remap a color to the inks you will be using on press. The combination of unique spot color profiling and spectral ink modeling provides absolute accuracy and predictability for spot color simulation. 38 FLEXO july 2011 www.flexography.org