Exploring the colour gamut

Published:  March 29, 2011
Exploring the colour gamut

There is no doubt that digital printing technology has come up in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and so far through a number of my contributing articles I have tried to demonstrate to readers what can be done with digital and the emerging trends.

Hopefully, I have provided some inspiration to designers in exploring new opportunities for their future print projects. As the digital print industry continues to evolve and mature, designers are learning a lot more about the technology and therefore are able to produce some amazing print collateral.

So, now that we know digital printing has transformed the printing industry forever, you need to know that there are new ways of working, and more flexible and creative uses of colour. There are fresh possibilities that include print on demand and variable data printing. Digital printing has brought new meaning to terms such as ‘short run’ and ‘fully customised communications’, while also reducing the time needed to turn the jobs around. It offers you more freedom to put your imagination on the page with more energy and excitement than ever before. And now, your digital printing options are expanding with intelligent colour management.

Digital printing does that?
Some digital printing presses now offer more design options through the use of fifth imaging units. That means, in addition to the standard CMYK colours, you can specify the use of a fifth unit to add an additional colour RGB (red, green or blue) to expand your colour range. The fifth unit can also be used to add a clear varnish coating or spot varnish to selected areas of your design. This colour expanded colour gamut solution also makes it easier to match Pantone or special colours in brand elements, or enhance the colour of photographic images.

Great results can be achieved with intelligent colour solutions that can produce amazing results for your work. You simply need to understand and learn how to prepare digital files and work with your print provider to take advantage of all the new opportunities.

Intelligent Colour
The normal colour gamut produced by most high-end digital press machines is already 20 percent larger than the gamut offered by standard four-colour offset printing. You can see the difference in the brighter, sharper, bolder images. You can see it in the improved shadow and highlight details. The addition of either an RGB colour solution by adding a red, green or blue to the already expanded colour gamut of CMYK can achieve an additional 16 to 22 percent increase in the available colour gamut. Now you’re taking colour way beyond the old limits. You’ll see the benefit in improved matching of Pantone, and other custom colours, and in the superior reproduction of wide-gamut images. You’ll also see it in a more accurate, consistent reproduction of colours in brand elements and previously difficult to match product colours.

For example, If you are working with a photo of a lush green landscape, adding green to the CMYK mix in the fifth imaging unit will make the greenery pop out. The best way to reproduce colour in images is to leave photos in the RGB colour space with its embedded colour profile intact. Make sure you ask your printer to do the conversion to CMYK.

Spot-on spot colour
If you need to match the colour of a logo or other brand elements, intelligent colour will help you zero in on the best possible match. Simply set up your graphic elements as spot Pantone colours, instead of converting to their CMYK equivalents. Ask your printer to ‘Map Spot Colour’ to automatically match Pantone colours using CMYK plus red, green or blue. The software used by your printer will analyse your job, list the spot colours it contains and determine which additional ink colour will produce the best results.

So in summary, to print a wider colour gamut in images, leave your photo in the original, larger, RGB colour space with its embedded input colour profile from the camera or scanner intact – don’t convert it to CMYK. Then ask your printer to do the colour conversion on the press. To more closely match a Pantone or other special colour, set up your graphic elements as ‘spot colours’ and select a spot colour from the menu (for example, Pantone 185C). Bring it to the attention of your printer, to be sure to get as much colour as you can.

Hopefully you are now inspired to try these tricks of the trade and experiment with your print provider to produce some really interesting and vibrant pieces. Happy colouring!

From desktop magazine.

One Response

  1. I find that using Kodak Nexpress is used best when offset printing. Thanks for the info and the groovy chart.

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