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FLEXO Magazine : October 2011
ing and maintaining the workflow, then deciding which devices to profile and how and where to use those profiles that becomes the daunting task. COLOR LOOK-UP TABLE The concept of color look-up tables is not new. Color look-up tables are built into every scanner produced in order to convert RGB signals into CMYK information. Prior to scanners, we had proprietary workstations using color look-up tables to ensure conformance to a print or proof standard during the creation of digital graphics. Before the proprietary digital era, we had craftspeople working in the industry using processes that were refined over the years, based on trial and error and experience. Order entry, customer ser- vice, designers, strippers, dot etchers, plate makers and press operators all have a language they speak, and none of them likes to be needlessly surprised. Whether the discussion of the day was passed along from journeyman to apprentice, from the plate department to prepress department, or from prepress to the content creator, there has always been some form of color communication. As with any concept, experience typically solved the issue of the day. The ques- tion was, and still is, how do we get that experience or exposure faster in order to become more proficient at our jobs? WHERE TO START In order to gain a better understand- ing of what an ICC profile is and how it works, we are going to create a simple workflow. This workflow is very familiar to everyone reading this article. That workflow contains a digital camera, a computer and monitor, and an inkjet printer. It can be applied to the following leisure-time situation. On a recent trip to the country, we capture a few images of the drive. One of the images is a sunset over the pond surrounded by trees and green grass. We download the images to our com- puter, preview them on the monitor and print them. What is the likelihood that the preview on the monitor or the print of the pond image looked anything like the scene we captured? Slim to none? Fast forward a few months and we are again driving around the countryside. During that period of time, we realized that the camera requires white and black balancing, based on changing light conditions, and that our monitor can be calibrated. We have also discovered that the printer driver has settings for various media types and resolutions. We have discovered how to capture, preview and print with our devices and the result- ing output is now beginning to look a lot more like what we expected. Welcome to the world of color communication! You are now obtaining much better results from your devices because you took the time to understand and set them up. One of many problems here is this workflow is not reproducible by anyone else, nor is it repeatable. How- ever, if we were to create or download ICC profiles of the calibrated devices, we could use those behind the scenes, within our applications, to communi- cate color to each of the devices being utilized. What is so difficult about this 84 FLEXO october 2011 www.flexography.org