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Secrets To Printing Chocolate

Printing chocolate can be very demanding.

The problem is a rich, appealing image of chocolate contains all four process colors and depending what profile is used, or converted to, there is a greater chance of not getting the results you’re looking for.

GCR Neutral Density Curves 320 TAC
Neutral Density Curves of GRACoL color profile. Notice when the image gets darker, the more Black ink is used. The gray gradient line from left is neutral gray from white to black.

An ICC color profile with a high percentage of GCR (gray component replacement) will produce the best results. Using GCR will lower the contaminate color (in the case of chocolate – cyan) and replace with a percentage of black ink.

For instance, using Photoshop’s default North American General Purpose settings, a nice brown/chocolate color will produce CMYK values of 40 cyan, 75 magenta, 100 yellow and 40 black. uses an enhanced CMYK gamut and that same color would separate/convert as 15 cyan, 65 magenta, 95 yellow and 60 black.

By just using the correct profile, a more controllable/predictable color would be obtained on press. Also, overall ink consumption would be reduced by nearly 10%. This is a result of adding the four process color percentages (255 versus 235), also know as Total Area Coverage (TAC).


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What to do with Embedded Color Profiles when Opening an Image in Photoshop?

When opening an image in Photoshop, you may be asked whether to keep an embedded profile, convert profile or ignore profile. The reason there is an embedded profile is because a photographer/designer had an intended appearance of what that image should look like.

These embedded profiles should be honored. Another safe option would be to convert to your ‘working’ color space when opening an image to maintain consistency. Either option will produce the best possible color match.

In order for the intended color to be converted to CMYK, the source profile must be known to get the most accurate color conversion. By keeping the embedded profile, the origin of the file’s color intent will be accurately reproduced.

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When to Convert to Profile and When to Assign a Profile

Never take these two functions for granted. They are entirely different processes and will break your chain of Color Management.

A successful Color Management workflow will always consist of a Source and Destination profile. These profiles will “link” devices and maintain the most accurate translation of color from device to device. The profile connection between Source and Destination is the LAB color space.

When you Assign an RGB profile, the numbers within the file will stay the same, however, the color will be DIFFERENT. The difference in color stems from the size of the gamut for the particular color space you are working in. Don’t forget that sRGB has a smaller color gamut than Adobe RGB and the color will be different.

Always convert to CMYK, never use “mode” change. Convert to Profile is a best practice to produce the most accurate color.

If your printer can not provide you with a custom CMYK profile, run! There is no scientific method they are using that will provide you with an acceptable color match on press.

Always communicate your color objectives from the very beginning.

Does this clear things up? Please leave a comment below…


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What Does Device Dependent and Device Independent Mean?

This is an interesting and sometimes confusing question.

It has to do with different forms of color spaces and how a device images color information.

Device Dependent refers to the CMYK gamut a printer/press can print to – it’s behavior. All printers/presses print differently, therefore they have Device Dependent profiles, or color gamuts. Basically, CMYK values for one device will print differently on another CMYK device.

Device Independent refers to the LAB Color Space. LAB values (50,0,0 – neutral gray) are absolute values that have a known color value. This is the color sensation that are eye processes and how spectrophotometers communicate color values between devices.

The LAB Color Space is the common denominator in communicating color values in Color Management workflow.

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When RGB is not RGB

Many creatives may not realize that assigning a color profile can have a major impact on the quality of color reproduction.

sRGB is a “virtual” color space designed for web publishing. Adobe RGB is another “virtual” color space intended for high-end color reproduction. The term “virtual” refers to a generalization of where a prospective monitor will display color. Some monitors will claim they can reproduce the whole Adobe RGB color gamut, while sRGB is known as the common denominator for monitors displaying websites.

It is interesting to know that all web browsers display RGB values in the sRGB color space and HDTV is displayed in sRBG. This is the reason why rich colored images appear flat once they’ve been uploaded to a website. They are most likely tagged with an Adobe RGB profile.

Look for continued posts on the differences, and impacts, of sRGB and Adobe RGB.

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Number One Reason for Reprinting a Print Order

According to a recent survey from GATF (Graphics Arts Technical Foundation), the number one reason for printers’ reprints was due to unacceptable color in print. There has been a general lack of communication, and knowledge, in the print industry that’s been the main cause. Surprisingly, there are many printers that do not have color profiles for their printing conditions. These printers should be avoided due to the lack of being able to produce consistent color off their press.