I’ve been researching QR codes for the last six months and I have come to conclusion about how they can benefit you in your marketing efforts. QR codes, short for quick response, are gaining popularity at a fast rate and that’s beneficial to all of us in the marketing business.
QR codes are scanned by smart phones. Visit: http://get.beetagg.com in your mobile browser and automatically download QR Code reader software.
Studies show that by 2012, shipments of smart phones will exceed personal computers and all phones will be data-capable.
What does this mean? It means you need to have a presence in mobile marketing right now and QR codes are the link between offline marketing and online marketing.
By placing QR codes on your printed marketing material, you now have an effective way of determining the ROI of your print marketing campaign. There are many clever uses of QR codes in print. The main take-away of using these 2-D codes is that once they are scanned from a cell phone, they will direct the user to a landing page where they are prompted with a special offer or call-to-action. By creating effective landing pages, the visitor is now engaged with your product or service and is converted from a visitor to a lead and is now within your sales funnel.
It’s imperative that you have a mobile version of your website for your landing pages. You want to make sure that the visitor has a pleasant experience and embraces the new technology; it will boost the engagement with your brand.
Here’s the ROI: the landing pages with be tracked with your web analytics account. You will have first hand statistics on how effective these codes have reached out to prospects and have converted into leads for your salesforce. In return, you have built an initial experience with a prospective client and have built a foundation that you are an expert in your field.
By simply adding QR’s to your print marketing material, you are extending a form of engagement with your prospects with minimal investment.
What are your plans with QR codes in your print marketing?
I have been asked the question many times before: why does my photography/image look so flat when i convert RGB to CMYK color?
Well, the answer is science.
RGB is additive color theory. Red, green and blue light when combined produce white light. When red, green and blue light are turned off, there is no color therefore resulting in black. This is how your monitor and television function.
CMYK is subtractive color theory. Cyan, magenta and yellow ink act as filters to absorb and reflect light that is reflected off paper. When light reflects off paper where no ink is applied, this is white. When light reflects where all three colors are present, no light reflects back resulting in black. Cyan ink absorbs red light; magenta absorbs green light; and yellow absorbs blue light. This is the basic theory of subtractive color.
It’s important to note that a fourth ink (black) is used to create more contrast and deeper blacks/shadows in images. The amount of black ink is dependent on the conversion process that is used, for example medium GCR (Gray Component Replacement).
RGB color uses projected light which is much more brighter than light reflecting off a substrate with CMYK color. The additive light (RGB) creates a color gamut that is much larger than subtractive (CMYK) color gamut.
Does this explain RGB to CMYK conversion for you? Please place your comments below…
[learn_more caption=”Transcript of Video” state=”open”]
Hi. This is Rick Rys from HiDefColor.com. Today we are going to discuss the conversion from the RGB color space into the CMYK color space.
[0:14] RGB is an additive color space meaning that red, green, and blue light together will create white. When red, green, and blue light are off, they will be black when it is projected onto screen, or onto a monitor.
[0:31] CMYK is the subtractive color theory meaning that the cyan, magenta, and yellow inks act as filters. As light bounces off of the paper, it reflects up through the cyan, magenta, and yellow inks, which in turn will either absorb or reflect different color wavelengths.
[0:52] The opposite of red is cyan, the opposite of green is magenta, and the opposite of blue is yellow. The subtractive colors are the gray components of the additive colors meaning that when they’re put together, they create gray, or black, or white.
[1:07] The LAB color model–let me turn this off here–is a 3-axis color system, and the LAB colors are absolute meaning that the color is identical. It’s across what’s called a device-independent, meaning that the LAB color space is the only way for you to communicate different colors across different devices.
[1:35] Now, it is a 3-axis system. The first axis, the L-channel, or lightness goes up and down the 3-D color model, and it consists of white to black, and all of your gray colors will be exactly right down the center.
[1:49] All your neutral colors will be relatively in the center of this axis. The A-axis goes from a cyan/blue color across to a magenta/red color, and the B-axis goes from blue to yellow.
[2:07] Within this area, we’re going to plot our visual or reproducible colors based on the gamut or the profile of the device we have. I’m going to turn on the sRGB color profile. Most monitors display in sRGB; sRGB is preferred for any type of Internet or Web application.
[2:27] And look at this thing spinning here. And you can see the volume of the colors that you can reproduce from this additive color model. Obviously, since it’s dealing with projecting light, they’re very bright colors and they’re very saturated.
[2:44] Now when we bring in and display the CMYK GRACoL color profile, you’ll notice when I turn it on the sRGB encompasses the whole CMYK color gamut beside this area of cyan and greens through here.
[3:03] If you look down on the color model, you’ll notice that the circumference of the model is projected along the bottom here. You can see the outside perimeter of the sRGB color profile.
[3:17] The brighter colors are just not capable of being reproduced with the CMYK color gamut. You can see what happens when you get these real dark blues. There’s no blue for you to hit in a CMYK color model.
[3:30] What I’m going to do is I’m going to take our sRGB color profile, and I changed the opacity, so you can see the difference that we’re dealing with here. As you can see the volume of color on the RGB color profile is nowhere near what can be reproduced in a CMYK color profile.
[3:53] So what we have to do is we have to do our best job of remapping these colors, or what is known as tonal compression, to bring this sRGB color model into the CMYK color space.
[4:06] This is why–I’ll stop right here–when you look at a blue sky, you may always be disappointed with the results you get because when the photograph is in RGB, you’ve got all these deep bright blues and more of the colors you see in the horizon.
[4:30] When they’re converted to CMYK – you’ll notice when I change opacity, all those bright blues have to be condensed into this little area here of the blue hue that’s reproducible in CMYK.
[4:42] There’s a sacrifice there, and that’s where you get into using either relative rendering intent, or the perceptual color intent. That will help you resolve some of issues you have with converting your dark blues into the CMYK color space.
[4:58] Let’s turn this opacity back up, and you’ll get an idea, again, of what we’re dealing with here. We need to take all of this color and condense it into this little area right here.
[5:12] And this is the GRACoL color profile. The GRACoL color profile has more colors than the SWOP profile, so we’re going to get a better representation of some of those more juicier RGB colors when they’re converted to CMYK.
[5:27] So let’s bring this up again and show you the difference of converting all of this into this little area here. This is why color management is so important and knowing what profiles you’re dealing with.
[5:41] Your safest bet is using the sRGB color space and converting into the coded GRACoL profile. Keep in mind that dealing with your print provider, they will produce, or they will provide the correct color profile based on their printing condition.
[5:58] A profile is a recipe, or the characteristics of a particular printing condition. Based on the press, the inks, and the paper that they use that will produce a profile.
[6:10] Well thanks again for tuning in. I hope this clears some things up. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on the blog. And we will see you next time.
The fact that an image is in CMYK does not mean the color will be correct for a printing press.
CMYK is a ‘device dependent’ color space, meaning that the CMYK data will print differently from one CMYK device to another. Every CMYK device has it’s own color profile. Knowing which CMYK color profile to convert to from RGB is very important to the success of color quality.
A CMYK printer profile is the characteristic or behavior of a printing condition or process.
Today we will demonstrate the differences between the GRACoL (general requirements for applications in commercial offset lithography) and SWOP (specification for web offset printing) CMYK color gamuts, or CMYK printer profiles. The GRACoL printing specification has a larger CMYK color gamut than the SWOP printing specification.
This VIDEO demonstration shows the GRACoL and SWOP CMYK color gamuts in a three-dimensional wireframe. The color wireframes are plotted in the LAB color space. Create an even larger CMYK color gamut by printing with FM/stochastic screening!
The LAB color space is ‘device indepedent’, meaning that LAB color data is absolute. LAB is a universal color space and is the best way to communicate the appearance of color.
Which color profile looks better to you? Please leave your comments below…
[learn_more caption=”Transcript of Video” state=”open”] Hi. This is Rick Rys from HiDefColor.com.
00:04 Today we’re going to talk about the CMYK color space and the two most common CMYK color printer profiles. It’s important to note that a color printer profile is the behavior or the characteristics of a printing condition. It’s important to note that when dealing with your commercial printer to ask them which color printer profile or which color specification they print to and use that profile. Here at HiDefColor.com, we support the GRACoL color specification.
00:40 The important thing to note is we’re going to be – you’re actually looking at CMYK color model is plotted in the LAB color space. The LAB color space is a three axis determination of what a color is going to be, so it’s absolute.
01:00 The first axis is the L channel or the lightness which goes from white to black. Now that is going from top to bottom and it’s also important to note that along this axis is where your grays are going to be; your gray balance here, fifty percent gray, seventy five, twenty five and so-on are going to be down the center of that axis.
01:22 The second axis, the A axis goes from a cyan/green over to magenta/red color and the B axis goes from blue to yellow. So within this area here is where we’re going to plot all of our colors.
01:38 We’re going to go from our lightest colors up here, to our darker colors down here. So in the center is where all your neutral colors are going to be. We’ll start with our first color printer profile, that will be the SWOP color printer profile.
01:51 When we turn that on, you can see we’ve generated a three-dimensional wire frame of that color model. You go from our paper-white, down to our shadows, and then across from our primary colors our reds, our blues, greens, to our subtractive primaries our yellow, cyan and magenta. And from the top down – looking straight down – you can see that we plotted the outside circumference of our color space, so you can see our color a little better, along with our three-dimensional wireframe.
02:27 The second option is the GRACoL color printer profile. Now, i’m going to bring that in. You will notice that when i click this on, that the GRACoL color printer profile completely engulfs the SWOP color printer profile.
02:41 Looking down here at the bottom – follow the cursor – you’ll notice from the top down the shadow, or the circumference, is much larger than the SWOP color gamut, meaning that you have more color that’s accessible when you convert from RGB to CMYK. You’re going to get a larger color gamut and this is displaying graphically what the larger color gamut is with the GRACoL color profile.
03:04 It’s important to note that you can’t just choose a profile. You have to understand what profile or what specifications your printer is running to. So if you convert to a SWOP profile and you’re printing GRACoL, there’s going to different results.
03:19 So again, what I want to do here is i’m going to change the opacity of the GRACoL so you can see better how much more color is available resulting in a larger color gamut.
03:31 We’ll get this spinning here so you can look around the different colors and look at the top down and also look at the wireframe to see how much more color. There’s more volume of color for you to work with to get a better reproduction in CMYK when you convert from RGB.[/learn_more]
HiDefColor.com is proud to be part of G7 Master Printer network!
The G7 Master Printer Certification is a qualification program that identifies printing companies that have been trained to print to G7 Neutral Print Density Curves ensuring gray balance across the tonal range. The advantage to facilitating a G7 workflow guarantees print buyer expectations of the closest color match from proof to press and across other methods of printing from offset to digital to large format products. Although all methods of printing (offset, digital, large format) have their own color gamuts, the effect of printing to neutral density print curves results in a visual color match of each different product to the human eye.
The result is your branded identity will have a visual color match from different locations and different printing devices.
The G7 Master Printer Certification also means we use modern colorimetry technology and employ G7 process controls to guarantee color quality.
HiDefColor.com is one of the few online printers who are G7 Master Printers. The G7 Master Printer status is audited and renewed on a yearly basis.
I was asked the other day about producing a calendar for 2012. The unique challenge with this project was that it wasn’t a typical template calendar and that its design involves fashion photography that crosses over the spine onto the page beneath.
Large images that cross over the spine/gutter in the binding process are known as a ‘gutter jump’ or ‘crossover’.
This design is used frequently in the magazine and book publishing business, but it may be relatively unknown to most graphic designers or photographers as to how it’s produced. It may be one of the ultimate challenges for a high quality commercial printer to do successfully. It relies on every department (prepress, press, postpress) on doing there job exactly to specification to pull off a successful quality reproduction.
We’ve all been talking about cross-media publishing for the last fifteen years or so. I know it’s been on my radar for a long time. Finally, there really is a great form of cross-media publishing that really is quite simple and very effective to your marketing strategies.
The answer: QR Codes.
QR codes are scanned by smart phones. Visit: http://get.beetagg.com in your mobile browser and automatically download QR Code reader software.
There’s no question soft touch ‘fiber’ paper stocks are very unique and create the sensation of feel to your design. However, they have production drawbacks with buying even cartons from paper mill and the effect of paper color when printing CMYK inks.
A less expensive alternative is coating your next print project with UV Soft Touch coating. UV Soft Touch coating is applied inline in the coating unit and is not a varnish. Varnish is a form of coating but it is applied in a printing unit, not a coating unit. Varnish will use a valuable printing unit on press and be more expensive. UV Soft Touch coating is also ‘cured’ inline on press by ultraviolet (UV) energy. The difference between aqueous Soft Touch coating and UV Soft Touch coating is UV Soft Touch has higher rub resistance, no streaking in coating and softer feel due to thicker coating layer.
Applications for using UV Soft Touch coating include: unique business cards, postcards, rack cards, flyers, greeting cards and presentation folders.
When using UV Soft Touch coating there are a few design thoughts to keep in mind. Number 1, Soft Touch coating has a matte finish and will flatten out color and contrast. Use a larger shadow dot when possible to help compensate. Number 2, if you have a particular Touché color stock in mind, you can create that unique background color in CMYK and use Soft Touch coating to re-create the look of the original Touché paper stock. Most importantly, number 3, there is no need to cross your fingers that the printing process is going to work. No special meetings required to read over the ‘printing tips’ with your printer that the ink will adhere to the stock surface on ‘fiber’ paper stocks. We run Soft Touch coating all day long on 20 point business cards with no issues.
This VIDEO will show you how to get the most dynamic and sharpest images in your printed marketing material. This is a two-step Photoshop sharpening technique that will show you how to create the sharpest images without creating noise in smooth midtone areas of your photographs.
This is one of my favorite Photoshop sharpening tips in reproducing beautiful photography on press. All images are not as sharp as they can be when converted from raw files. These days there is a lot of post image processing that needs to be done with digital images. One of the key things that is overlooked is how sharp the image is. We now work with incredibly sharp LCD displays and images seem to jump off the screen. Unfortunately, when an image goes through the RIP (raster image processor) process in prepress, the image is naturally softened in the screening process.
Remember, your photography is only as good as the printer you choose!
Let me know what you think. Please leave your comments below…
[learn_more caption=”Transcript of Video” state=”open”] Hi. This is Rick Rys from HiDefColor.com.
Today, we’re going to talk about one of the greatest Photoshop sharpening techniques to take your photographs from a good photograph to a great photograph.
[0:13] Notice the transition there. This will demonstrate how to take a great photo and make it into a true high definition color print when it’s printed on press.
[0:25] All right, let’s get started here.
[0:27] As you can see, I am working in the LAB color space right now. You can work in RGB and get the same results. I prefer using LAB. Just keep in mind you want to convert to CMYK at the very last moment so always work in RGB or LAB.
[0:43] First things started, we’re going to do a Select All and we’re going to copy and create a new Alpha channel here and paste our document or image into our new Alpha channel.
[1:03] We select that and we’re going to Filter, Stylize and click the Find Edges. Now what Find Edges will do is look at all the sharp contrasting points in the image and basically highlight those and create a line drawing for you.
[1:21] From here, we’re going to go on to our curves, which is our Command M and we’re going to alter this channel.
[1:30] First thing you want to do… In a nutshell, what’s happening here… We’re going to sharpen the darkened areas. The white areas will not be sharpened so we’re going to maintain our smooth, crystal clear, creamy midtones and not create any noise in there from excessive sharpening.
[1:49] First thing, you’d want to grab our shadow end of our curve and bring this over all the way up to 50%. At the same time, you’d want to take our highlight end of our curve and bring this up to about 20% or so.
[2:09] You can see right now we’ve created a much higher contrast now in this line drawing. And again just to make another adjustment here, we want to make our black areas a little wider as possible so we’re going to add some more density to that black and kick it up. You can see they’re almost intersecting each other.
[2:29] At this point, we’re going to click OK and we’re going to go into Filter and create a Gaussian Blur on this image. The blur will spread the black areas to create a subtle transition between these smooth areas and the sharpened areas.
[2:50] So, select Gaussian Blur and use anything… I prefer to use two and a half pixels. That seems to work fast for me. So, select 2.5 pixels and click OK.
[3:04] Now back to curves again. You could see we softened up the image.
[3:07] Now we go back to curves and harden up that edge a little more. So we’re going to bring our shadow end of our curve all the way up to 50% again. You could see how much darker we made that so we’ll get more sharpening in the areas. There is no information in our white areas here so those areas will not be affected by the Photoshop sharpening filter. Click OK.
[3:32] At this point, we’re going back to our full color image and go to Select and Load Selection. Notice we’re going to select our Alpha channel that we’ve created and click OK. Now that selection is brought to place. We’re simply going to hide the selection just to save on our eyeballs there.
[3:57] And now we’re going to do our sharpening. The selection is going to just isolate the areas that we want to sharpen. Go to Filter, Sharpen and I’m a huge fan of Unsharp Mask. It goes back to the old days of running the old color drum scanner. At this point, I’m going to play around with the amount.
[4:21] Now the amount is how much the adjoining pixels are affected. I like to go real high on this number, anywhere between 150 and 200. For this tutorial, I’m going to select 200 and it’s a high number but keep in mind we’re only affecting those images in the selection itself.
[4:41] You’d want to keep the radius anywhere between half a pixel to one to one and a half. If you go any thicker, you’ll create a severe halo effect around your images. If you’re looking for an artistic point of view, you may want to do that but I would not ever recommend doing that. So we’re going to stick to one pixel.
[5:06] Our threshold determines which pixels are sharpened and which are not. A higher threshold value means that there’s a huge contrast difference between pixels that are affected. Since we have our selection, it’s a moot point so it really doesn’t matter. So I’m going to stick with a threshold of zero.
[5:26] You can see as I move through the image and click on and off, you’ll notice that there is a great deal of sharpening happening in the contrasting areas but look at the midtone areas. They’re perfectly clean and not affected at all. Just an incredible cool little tool to utilize to create dynamic looking photographs. So click OK and we are done.
[5:53] At this point, we’ll go ahead and save our image and just to show you up close, we’ll zoom in here and you can see the difference between the two. Turn on… And turn it back off again… And turn it back on. Just an awesome looking sharpening job.
[6:15] OK, thanks for tuning in. Look back for more tutorials in the future. Take care. [/learn_more]
This has to be one of the best videos I’ve ever seen. Please take a few minutes out of your day and watch this video. It’s great to see the passion people take with their jobs to produce the best color possible.
Our business truly is a craft run by passionate people who genuinely care about their work.
If you have an appreciation for Art, you will truly enjoy this video.
What could be more important to producing great color on press than ink?
Tip: View this at ‘1080’ full screen for best results. Press pause, let it spool up and enjoy…
This VIDEO tutorial will show you settings that will ensure print-ready PDF files for faster turnaround times and no output errors in prepress. Compression settings will ensure quick upload times to HiDefColor.com.
This PDF workflow will also eliminate the need to convert any of your images to CMYK. No worries, these PDF settings for press will work just fine with images already converted to CMYK.
Did you find this tip helpful? Please leave a comment below…
[learn_more caption=”Read Transcript of Video” state=”open”]
Hi. This is Rick Rys from HiDefColor.com
00:04 Today’s tutorial never convert to CMYK is a cool little export option out of indesign CS5 that will eliminate the need to ever convert to CMYK.
00:15 This cool little RGB workflow will eliminate a lot of disk space and save you a lot of time along with a lot of confusion regarding having two files of the same image.
00:27 You can see we have an image here that’s created in indesign CS5 it consists of an RGB bitmap image, you can see the color space is RGB, and it is tagged with the Adobe RGB color profile.
00:42 We also have a CMYK Adobe Illustrator image which is a vector graphic.
00:50 It’s important to note that the image is created with different values of gray. This is important because these color values of gray are built with black only and we want to make sure we do not re-separate this into a four color gray.
1:06 We also have a series of color swatches that are placed as pantone colors. Also, take note that we are using the LAB values of these colors.
1:21 So, once we are ready to go to press, we’re going to do a simple
export option out of indesign CS5.
1:30 We’re going to utilize the Adobe PDF X-4 standard. Once we select PDF X-4, we’re going to save our file and we’ll go into the export Adobe PDF presets and select X-4; change the compatibility to PDF 1.7 standard; select our page and then go through the individual tabs here.
2:00 Under compression, we want to keep these values the same. Where we’re going to downsample to 300 pixels per inch when our image is greater than 450 pixels per inch. This will allow for a much faster upload to the color server at HiDefColor.com
2:18 Under marks and bleeds, two things – select our crop marks and change our bleed to .125″ top and bottom, inside and outside
2:29 The output tab is the most critical. This is where color conversion is going to take place and convert our images from RGB to CMYK.
2:39 We want to focus on the color conversion pull-down menu. We want to select “convert to destination” and “preserve numbers”. The preserve numbers will maintain any native CMYK data within the document.
2:53 This is important for our placed Adobe Illustrator image where we want to maintain our gray values with just black ink only. Select preserve numbers and our destination this is where we’re going to convert to CMYK.
3:08 We want to make sure that we select coated GRAcOL 2006 color profile. The GRAcOL profile is the largest CMYK color gamut for sheetfed printing.
3:21 Under profile inclusion policy we want to make sure we include the destination profile in case we have to repurpose this or convert this to another press.
3:33 Under ink manager you’ll notice that we have our CMYK information here and also all of our placed Pantone color swatches. What we want to do to make sure is that we check the all spots to process. You’ll notice that it converted these into CMYK and more importantly, make sure that we select the use standard LAB values for spots.
4:00 This is important because this will use the LAB color data value for each
of those pantone colors for a much more accurate conversion into CMYK.
4:13 Once we select OK, then we simply export the file. Once we export our file, we’re going to open it up into Acrobat and you’ll notice that our file is here and we’re going to do a quick little preflight. We’re going to go into the advanced tab, print production and select output preview.
4:40 You’ll notice a little output preview window will open up. Notice that all are images have now been converted to CMYK! So we could simply go through the process and deselect our individual color and build our document: black, yellow, magenta, cyan for our CMYK values.
4:59 As we mouse over, you’ll notice that we are now in the CMYK color space and so have all of our pantone colors been converted to CMYK. More importantly, when we get down to our placed illustrator graphic, you’ll notice here that the gray is made up of black ink only. You’ll notice that up here, once I thumbed over the sixty percent screen of black, this was maintained by using the preserve numbers value for the convert to destination. This did not re-separate it into four colors.
5:33 The important part about this it saves a lot of time as far as balancing color on press and also eliminating any registration issues on press having to line up four colors for just one color gray.
5:47 Well, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial look back for more tutorials in the future