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Colour management making my head spin - need brand asset AI help!

Community Beginner ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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Hi there

I'm a graphic designer for a very small company and I'm the only one - so have had to learn everything as I go find out stuff for myself rather than learn from someone else higher up as it were. I'm qualified and three years into the job, but what's blowing my mind lately is colour management. I've done three colour management courses on Lynda and read a whole book so the theory is going in, but I find in practise, it's a bit bewildering knowing what to do!

So my issue is - I would like to ensure I've got a brand identity and a set of brand assets (namely logos) for our company and get rid of the cr*p, but colour at the moment is driving me a bit nuts. I've inherited some logos as a starting point, and over the years I've exported the files or used them within different programmes like ID and AI, but as I've learned more and more, I'm realising there's a big discrepancy with how the colours display. I understand a lot more now about different colour profiles, gamuts, CMYK and RGB and that each display shows colours differently and all that jazz - what I need now is in real, practical terms - what do I do to get the best colour out of what we have in order to get a decent set of values etc?

The brand features a very strong red. The earliest version of a logo I have from the previous designer is an EPS from 2013 so I guess this is the basis from which to gather the info of what this red should look like. But what should I do to get this? I've got it open in AI and not sure whether to use the Digital Colour Meter, if so which mode? Or the eyedropper tool in AI? If I click on the shape with red fill, the values I get are: R: 188 G: 34 B: 47 and  C:18.36 M: 96.88 Y: 80.08 K: 8.59. The colour profile of the file is untagged CMYK. Should I keep the file in CMYK as it's vector? If so, are those CMYK values right? I use a Macbook pro 15-inch retina

Sorry if any of these seem silly questions - it's what happens when you have to muddle your way through I guess

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Community Expert ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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Normally colours of a logo are defined by a colour sheet coming with the logo. Colour picking from inside the files (especially old EPS files) is probably the least good solution.

In general colour colours are defined in some reproducible colour model like Pantone or HKS or similar. Those are colour systems that guaranty when using a specific colour it looks the same on any media. Professional printers can even buy Pantone colours for spot printing.

If however that part of the logo definition is missing, you need to build it. Your advantage will be that you can't be wrong as you are the expert (experts are always right, aren't they?).

Here are some hints to get the correct colour:

  • Take some correctly printed letter paper for reference. You can look into the print order specifications for colour references.
  • Pantone sells some incredibly expensive colour fans you can use to determine the correct colours, given that the letter paper is using the correct colours. You can also visit your preferred print shop and ask the printer for advice. They my have the correct tools to check the colour.
  • Get the CMYK values from your EPS file and find out what Pantone colours could match the CMYK values. This is a kind of quick and dirty value finding, absolutely not colour proof but in our amateurish world of today it may be quite enough.

The problem shouldn't be about finding the exactly correct colour that has been defined somewhere but to make correct assumptions for consistent colour management in the future.

Discussion successfully moved from Adobe Creative Cloud to Color management

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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Thanks Abambo for taking the time to answer my question. I've asked our MD if the designer who made our logo gave any colour guidance at the time. In any case it would be fine to deviate from whatever she set anyway - as you say it's more important getting a colour that the MD is happy with for future use, rather than trying to achieve a specific set of values

But just to go back to what I have currently as I know he's happy with the look of some of these assets...  I have an EPS file of the logo, some JPEG files of the logo, and one PDF of the front of the business card. All in different colour spaces - so just to clarify, it's not really any use using any of these to determine the correct colour? From what you are saying, is it more a case of sitting down with our MD and sussing out how he wants the colours to look printed on a colour card, rather than showing him on a screen using RGB/CMYK values? Only thing I'm thinking is that being a small business, I'm not sure they will fund me buying a Pantone card! I want to get this right though is the thing!

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Community Expert ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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Hi

I presume you are making these colours out of CMYK, no special colours on press - I mean "spot colour inks" like Pantone inks?

It’s a valiant effort to learn colourmanagement from online courses, well done - I hope you've already learned enough about colourmanagement to know that what I write below makes good sense.

One important tip to get started - never work with "untagged CMYK".

I once saw a sample book made by Flint ink of a single ink colour (red) printed on various papers on various printing presses, the difference was amazing. AND that was as single ink. You must know what CMYK ICC profile to use because that provides actual unequivocal meaning to the colour numbers in your file and gets around the issue of unpredictable print

as long as your printer does it right).

So - your CMYK working colourspace must be the right one for the print job.

As you are in charge of colourmanagement you'll have to find out about this, there's no alternative.

There are generics such as GRACoL and ISO but you can't guess which to use.

Now you need something to match.

If your existing red sample is untagged CMYK its, basically, presuming a colour appearance (on screen) based on whatever Illustrator is set to. If the Illustrator setting was different the appearance would change on screen . That means you don't know what the originatrr intended - as it's untagged CMYK.

SO, I suppose you can't trust that appearance?

Do you have a well calibrated display screen?

If so, you could make up a CMYK colour in Photoshop or Illustrator to match a physical sample object that’s  known to be correct [something printed maybe - or a physical product]

- you CAN do this matching visually, using the screen appearance, it might be time consuming. You could perhaps start out by entering those CMYK values from Illustrator into the colour pallete.

OR

You could get someone with a spectrophotometer to measure the item in Lab colour - only a simple instrument like i1 Pro is needed for this. That Lab value can be added in Photoshop or Illustrator  and it will be converted to the press CMYK that you set (another reason why that press CMYK is important).

OR

You may be able to get a Pantone book which includes "ink recipes" (i.e. CMYK values), but those values would absolutely have to be the right ones for your CMYK press colourspace, i.e using the right CMYK ICC Profile.) That Pantone book might be hard to find.

Theres something like that here: PANTONE CMYK Coated & Uncoated Guide Set | Colour Inspiration | store.pantone.com but no visible info about the CMYK ICC colourspace.

you're right, its complicated - especially to pick up the pieces on an existing situation, once you get started with a method, though, you'll be OK.

I hope this helps

if so, please do mark my reply as "helpful" and if you're OK now, please mark it as "correct" below, so others who have similar issues can see the solution

thanks

neil barstow, colourmanagement

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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Thanks Neil, this is all really helpful, appreciate your thoughts I've got some more questions though and I'm going to list them out to help my melting brain ha!

  • I should think we'll only be working with process colours as we're a small business and I can't see them forking out for Pantone printing, yes! Is it still going to be possible to establish our 'brand colours' though?
  • Yeah I assumed 'untagged' was a bad thing, but what do I do if the logo EPS file I inherited was set to this? I have other JPEGs in varying colour spaces and one PDF, so is it better to work from any of those? I've got one JPEG that is US web coated SWOP v2 if that is any good (assuming not!)
  • We work with various printers and also send files onto third parties where how they print the document is entirely unknown - so in this instance, which colour space would work if I were to start again? One training vid I did on Lynda suggested 'Coated GRACol 2006’ is a great standard CMYK.' but I don't know what to believe!
  • I'm not sure we actually have anything printed where the MD would love how the red appears. Is it worth me perhaps getting some different versions of our logo with various red values printed properly so he can see, pick one and start from there? Maybe printing all of the various logo files I've inherited perhaps
  • All the training I've done so far has made mention of calibrating your monitor (which I've admittedly never done!) Is it worth me investing in a colour calibrating device that won't break the bank do you think?

Thanks and sorry for more questions! It's bewildering (but fascinating!)

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Community Expert ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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carriel94375729  wrote

  • I should think we'll only be working with process colours as we're a small business and I can't see them forking out for Pantone printing, yes! Is it still going to be possible to establish our 'brand colours' though?

We are more of a "big business" (well not as big as Adobe... ) but we are working with process colours (CMYK). But there is a Pantone reference. We rarely print Pantone, but it's great as a reference. But your main problem will be to set that reference and it's all depending on your management and their colour perception and their trust in you to do it right.

And after setting the reference that fits, you should use that reference in all your workflow (as said by nb: in a tagged workflow).

carriel94375729  wrote

  • Yeah I assumed 'untagged' was a bad thing, but what do I do if the logo EPS file I inherited was set to this? I have other JPEGs in varying colour spaces and one PDF, so is it better to work from any of those? I've got one JPEG that is US web coated SWOP v2 if that is any good (assuming not!)

I doubt that the JPEG file is more correct then the EPS file, even that it is tagged. If it's incorrect at the beginning, then you tag it, it will stay incorrect, but wont change any more...

carriel94375729  wrote

  • We work with various printers and also send files onto third parties where how they print the document is entirely unknown - so in this instance, which colour space would work if I were to start again?

If the third party uses a calibrated environment it won't matter (much). If they don't use a calibrated environment the results will be unpredictable. Most prints from uncalibrated printers are more or less OK, meaning that a deep red will look deep red. However, if you compare prints from one printer to the other, side by side, you will see differences. Human colour sight is not an absolute but a comparative sight. Without a reference, no one can say that this or that is the correct colour.

carriel94375729  wrote

  • I'm not sure we actually have anything printed where the MD would love how the red appears. Is it worth me perhaps getting some different versions of our logo with various red values printed properly so he can see, pick one and start from there? Maybe printing all of the various logo files I've inherited perhaps

No one can say here what you should do. I took the example of printed letter pager, because it is that what the people use on a day to day basis. Business cards are also great to get a "correct" colour impression. If you do not have the logo colour book, you should use what management feels is correct (at my company, the executive's secretary is good in spotting wrong colours... ).

carriel94375729  wrote

  • All the training I've done so far has made mention of calibrating your monitor (which I've admittedly never done!) Is it worth me investing in a colour calibrating device that won't break the bank do you think?

Privately, I have invested in calibrated screens for my work. At work I'm using of the shelf screens. The funny part of those is, when having 2 screens of the same make and approximately the same production, you get different colour showings. So yes, if colour perception is important, you need to calibrate your screens.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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• I should think we'll only be working with process colours as we're a small business and I can't see them forking out for Pantone printing, yes! Is it still going to be possible to establish our 'brand colours' though?

I can't see them paying for Pantone special colours either [i.e. special ink in addition to the CMYK] on press, so its not going to work for you as its intended to, Pantone is ALL about special ink on the press.


• Yeah I assumed 'untagged' was a bad thing, but what do I do if the logo EPS file I inherited was set to this?

Once you set a CMYK colourspace for the illustrator document that placed file takes up those parameters. You will see that as the colourspace changes the file appearance changes on screen.

I have other JPEGs in varying colour spaces and one PDF, so is it better to work from any of those? I've got one JPEG that is US web coated SWOP v2 if that is any good (assuming not!)

Well, web costed SWOP 2  is OK IF that’s how its actually being printed AND if the colour looks right

SWOP 2 is a thing of the past really but still in use for sure.

We work with various printers and also send files onto third parties where how they print the document is entirely unknown - so in this instance, which colour space would work if I were to start again? One training vid I did on Lynda suggested 'Coated GRACol 2006’ is a great standard CMYK.' but I don't know what to believe!

Its probably a good default for the USA, for decent quality printing

GRACoL 2013 has taken over officially.

You HAVE to talk to printers about this.

I'm not sure we actually have anything printed where the MD would love how the red appears. Is it worth me perhaps getting some different versions of our logo with various red values printed properly so he can see, pick one and start from there? Maybe printing all of the various logo files I've inherited perhaps

Maybe, how you print them will heavily influence appearance.

If your screen is properly calibrated that should give a good preview.

All the training I've done so far has made mention of calibrating your monitor (which I've admittedly never done!) Is it worth me investing in a colour calibrating device that won't break the bank do you think?

Its unforgivable that you’ve done colourmanagement training and not yet come across the screen calibration because decent screen calibration is the bedrock of colourmanagement.

It might be useful to read this: https://forums.adobe.com/community/creativepipeline/blog/2018/03/08/about-icc-colour-profile-s

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Hi NB

Thanks for the reply.

I can't see them paying for Pantone special colours either [i.e. special ink in addition to the CMYK] on press, so its not going to work for you as its intended to, Pantone is ALL about special ink on the press.


So - don't use Pantone as a starting point? I'm confused as getting mixed answers on this.

Its unforgivable that you’ve done colourmanagement training and not yet come across the screen calibration because decent screen calibration is the bedrock of colourmanagement.

Ha OK! kinda strong, but I know what you're saying! I did come across it in my training, I'm saying I just haven't done this myself yet (working for a small business, as I mentioned and it will involve them paying for some kit)

Thanks for the help on the other stuff, so it sounds like I could potentially set a colour space for that old EPS, and once my screen is calibrated, use that to show the boss and get his thoughts.

Carrie

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Hi Carrie,

About the screen calibration, I mis-read what you wrote, sorry, but I stick by my statement that it is vital.

You CAN use a Pantone book but, as you'll not use a Pantone special ink, I would suggest using it only to get lab values (Lab values are the best as those values don't need a colourspace tag). So it has to be a Pantone book with Lab values printed on there. I've not seen one but they have been mentioned.

IF its possible to get process colour / ink values (i.e. CMYK numbers) for the specific print colourspace you're working towards (eg GRACoL coated 2013) then those values could be useful as a starting point.

About that old EPS you have - yes, I guess that's right, if its placed in an Illustrator document with THE RIGHT CMYK colourspace assigned you can then assess it, but you can only view it accurately on a properly calibrated screen. Does that explain why the screen is SO important here, its your "window" on colour and tonal appearance. It's where a user make judgements and so it needs to be accurate. That way it should predict printed appearance well.

I doubt a printer will have the spectrophotometer to measure Lab values from a physical sample but s/he might.

A colourmanagement guy like myself can make that measurement for you. Some photographers own an i1Pro2 which is the basic tool needed.

A small business potentially needs accurate colour just as much as a big business does, taking design in house involves some investment and one of the important items is a decent screen properly calibrated.

I hope this helps

if so, please do mark my reply as "helpful" and if you're OK now, please mark it as "correct" below, so others who have similar issues can see the solution

thanks

neil barstow, colourmanagement

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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I would suggest using it only to get lab values (Lab values are the best as those values don't need a colourspace tag). So it has to be a Pantone book with Lab values printed on there. I've not seen one but they have been mentioned.

The Lab values are used in the current CC .acb libraries, so you can get them from any of the Adobe print print apps. Lab values would always be instrument read from printed swatches.

Screen Shot 6.png

There are a couple of problems with using a profiled CMYK build as the logo's source color. The first is how are you going to choose the source color? From a calibrated monitor? Yours or your client’s? Is the CMYK color inside a typical monitor’s RGB space (100% cyan isn't)? What destination profile are you going to default to—a SWOP web press?

Or is it from a printed CMYK chart (how was that chart printed)?

Secondly, if the color is going to be managed for different press conditions it would have to get converted to the final CMYK destination any time it is used, and a CMYK-to-CMYK conversion might be less accurate than a Lab-to-CMYK conversion because all CMYK spaces have limited gamuts—the source CMYK profile would have to be as large as possible.

If the profiled CMYK color gets sent to an RGB driven printer (any composite inkjet printer), there would be additional conversions on the way to the final (CcMmYKk) printer color.

For offset printing you also have to consider the inaccuracies of the press before you get too deep into the weeds of color management. The color on a high speed press is variable, so its actual profile might be changing during the print run. The generic press profiles for coated sheets (SWOP, GRACol, FOGRA) are different, but not that different. The benefits of doing color managed conversions of the logo color will be more obvious if the color is going to different papers—coated, uncoated, newsprint.

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Hi carriel94375729 ,

https://forums.adobe.com/people/NB%2C+colourmanagement  wrote

You CAN use a Pantone book but, as you'll not use a Pantone special ink, I would suggest using it only to get lab values (Lab values are the best as those values don't need a colourspace tag). So it has to be a Pantone book with Lab values printed on there. I've not seen one but they have been mentioned.

The whole Pantone thing does not mean that you need to print Pantone colours. But there are 2 or 3 advantages to define your colours as Pantone:

  • Pantone is a reference and you can tell anyone that the colours are Pantone XY. If you use CMYK values without a reference on how and where to print you will get different results.
  • You (and your successors) will avoid the hassle that you have now to get the correct colour.
  • The Pantone colour definition gives authority. If you use the CMYK definition, you will find people discussing if it is 72% Magenta or 73%. What people do overlook is that magenta from supplier 1 is not magenta from supplier 2. With RGB the same. That's the reason to have a calibrated workflow.

Look here:

heineken identity design color palette

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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The Pantone recipes really are problematic.

They never publish the device profile—are their CMYK recipes for correct appearance on a US Web SWOP Coated press or some other press. The amount of Black in the recipes would really be unusual in any color conversion. Pantone 877 or any gray would never convert to black only, and there would always be some amount of magenta in the Green swatches. What RGB space are the values for? There would be a significant color appearance difference between same values in sRGB vs. AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB.

It seems like the only way they could have come up with the formulas would be via empirical comparisons and not via color management, which is really weird given that Pantone is owned by X-rite.

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Yes, that's not the important part. Only showing how companies define their colours. Once established, OP can give information like that to his subcontractors. They will be happy and he will be happy... 🙂

For recipe: I suppose someone measured "ad hoc" the values and they are with great probability only true for quite limited cases.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Feb 09, 2019 Feb 09, 2019

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LATEST

The Pantone colour definition gives authority.

Here's a demo of how random the "official" Pantone CMYK (Bridge) values are, and why it might be better to use Adobe’s color management for getting Pantone CMYK conversions.

The center swatches are Pantone’s Solid Ink Lab defined spot colors. The spot Lab values would have to be measured from printed swatches (Pantone is owned by x-rite Ci64 Handheld Portable Spectrophotometer | X-Rite ), so it is the most accurate way to capture a printed reference color. The accuracy of the screen softproof display depends on the accuracy of your system’s monitor profile—there’s a direct conversion from Lab to the monitor RGB profile for the display of Lab color.

The patches to the right are Pantone’s Bridge CMYK builds with the document’s CMYK profile assignment set to GRACol 2013. There are no exact matches and some are way off. None of the standard coated CMYK profiles that ship with CC produces a consistent match.

The patches on the left are InDesign conversions of the spot Lab values to GRACol2013 using Relative Colorimetric as the color Intent. Because InDesign color manages the conversion, the GRACol CMYK appearance matches the Lab appearance.

Screen Shot 2.png

http://www.zenodesign.com/forum/PANTONESolidvBridge.zip

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Hi NB

Thanks again. Not gonna lie - pretty confused right now with all the different information and stuff!

I think what I def will do is get a (not too expensive) monitor calibrator. Beyond that.. not really sure yet - all I know is that the company is going to suggest taking the least expensive route for sure (whatever that is).

Maybe if I approach this in a slightly different way and ask you guys: What is your process for when people come to you and ask you to build the colour palette side of things for a brand identity? I'm not talking about the brand discussion bit, I mean the actual technical bit. What's your starting point? A Pantone card or something else? There must be a simpler way of coming up with a brand palette from scratch (which is what I think is being suggested)

Thanks

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Maybe if I approach this in a slightly different way and ask you guys: What is your process for when people come to you and ask you to build the colour palette side of things for a brand identity?

I would warn them that maintaining an exact color appearance over a wide range of printing devices and displays is not possible.

Mostly because at some point you have to give up control of the color. A Lab value converted directly to the final print profile is the most accurate approach, but you can't control how that is done—when the color is converted at output, does your print vendor really use an output profile that matches the physical press profile? And then there is the Conversion Intent and Black Point Compensation, which also have an affect on the final print values.

The alternative is to come up with a single CMYK recipe with no profile, so the same CMYK values output everywhere. If you include a profile, you’ll still  loose control over any print time conversions. But a single, unchanging CMYK build might change in appearance depending on the press conditions. That's the problem with Pantone’s (or any) recipe chart.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Thanks Rob, I think I'm finally getting somewhere closer to getting my head round all of this.

The thing I'm wondering now is - I work with lots of different huge clients and they always have in depth brand guidelines, which always stipulate colour values in RGB, CMYK and Hex etc. How can they ensure that the colour is going to be consistent with all the variation that occurs with different colour profiles and things? I guess they can't but this all just seems a bit crackers to me!

I think as you say, probably going down the route of finding a CMYK set of values that the MD likes (I'm obvz going to have to calibrate my monitor, even then, going by what people have said I don't think it's going to be accurate!) and going from there. Is it ok to use online value converter tools to find RGB etc? If I'm in Europe should I use the Coated FOGRA39? That's what the guy said to do in the Lynda tutorial. I'm guessing untagged is a big no-no since three people have told me this so far lol

Failing that I might have to go buy a tin of Dulux and just hand paint all our business cards

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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carriel94375729  wrote

The thing I'm wondering now is - I work with lots of different huge clients and they always have in depth brand guidelines, which always stipulate colour values in RGB, CMYK and Hex etc. How can they ensure that the colour is going to be consistent with all the variation that occurs with different colour profiles and things?

See here: Re: Colour management making my head spin - need brand asset AI help!

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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A guide has to identify the color spaces. There isn't a single CMYK or RGB space, so Pantone’s recipes are random and can't be accurate unless you get lucky.

Should be something like this where I’ve made all of the conversions from the source Lab value:

Screen Shot 8.png

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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One other note on controlling the color conversions. It is possible to do the final color management in house during a PDF Export of the layout. There may be a case where the printer doesn't want to be responsible for any color conversions (most online printers), or you simply don't trust them to correctly handle the conversion.

In that case the logo color can be defined as Lab in the layout and correctly converted by using either PDF/X-4 or PDF/X-1a presets and choosing Convert to Profile with the final print profile set as the Destination in the Output tab. The Lab color will be exported as DeviceCMYK (no profile). With the Lab definition you could export the same layout multiple times for any print destination.

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LEGEND ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Here's one way I like to think about understanding colour management, and profiles. Do you cook chilli?

Ok, let's suppose you have a recipe that calls for

1 pound of meat

1 teaspoon of chilli powder

This recipe is to be turned into food, right? But what will the food be like?

If you don't know what meat to buy and what chilli powder to buy, you'll have to buy at random. Someone else with the same recipe may buy lamb instead of beef, and mild chilli powder instead of hot. The two of you will get two quite different dishes. But suppose the recipe tells you what meat to buy exactly, and what chilli powder brand. Now you two will make the same dish if you follow the recipe.

So, CMYK is like a recipe for mixing inks to get food, I mean colour. If you just say "CMYK" you have a recipe but don't know the ingredients. Maybe that printer uses a thin, watery, cyan ink, and that one uses a heavy blue cyan ink. Maybe this printer uses a soft paper that soaks up most of the ink, and that printer uses a good quality coated paper that has all the ink sit nicely. Going to look very different from the two printers.

So, CMYK is a kind of recipe. What it isn't is a colour. Untagged CMYK puts you at the mercy of whatever ink and paper turns up, and the results can be as different as these two chillis. CMYK profiles basically allow your computer to know what ingredients to be used, and not only produce accurate colour, but convert to a different recipe if you need to, keeping the colour as close as possible.

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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CMYK profiles basically allow your computer to know what ingredients to be used, and not only produce accurate colour, but convert to a different recipe if you need to, keeping the colour as close as possible.

You certainly can do color managed CMYK-to-CMYK conversions, but when the final destination is unknown, why start in a random CMYK source space? There's not much point in an RGB-to-CMYK1-to-CMYK2 conversion when it can be a single Lab-to-CMYK, or large RGB-to-CMYK conversion—where we know all CMYK destinations are inside of the source Lab space.

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Community Expert ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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https://forums.adobe.com/people/rob+day  wrote

Maybe if I approach this in a slightly different way and ask you guys: What is your process for when people come to you and ask you to build the colour palette side of things for a brand identity?

I would warn them that maintaining an exact color appearance over a wide range of printing devices and displays is not possible.

Where can I sign this!

The rule should be to have a nice and clear definition of brand colours. And then use that definition again and again. And that's where the Pantone stuff comes in. If you can tell a guy who asks the colour code that it is Pantone 485C it will be that red on coated white (what white?) paper. If you say RAL 3020 (for paint) it will be that red and HKS 13K it will be that red.

So if the one executing the job will be doing a decent job, you will have in all cases a deep red (C0/M100/Y100/K0).

If you look at the colours you will see that the colours are similar, but not the same. RAL is used for painting. If you tell them about Pantone values they do not understand.

What I'm trying to tell is, that there should be one root definition and all different values should be derived from that root. But the root should not be a cmyk or an rgb value...

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Feb 07, 2019 Feb 07, 2019

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One important tip to get started - never work with "untagged CMYK".

In some workflows tagged CMYK can create problems.

Including the CMYK source profile invites CMYK-to-CMYK conversions downstream, which in some cases can produce bigger problems than it solves. An obvious case would be a black only gray value, which would convert to a 4-color mix and possibly create registration and gray balance problems on press. Or primary CMYK colors like 100% cyan or yellow getting contaminated on the extra conversion. RGB is different because for print it always needs to be converted, and has to have a source profile for an accurate conversion.

For that reason, both InDesign and Illustrator have an extra CMYK Color Management Policy—Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles)—which strips embedded CMYK profiles and assigns the document's CMYK profile, which makes CMYK-to-CMYK conversions less likely.

The PDF/X-4 and PDF/X-1a standards export all Document CMYK color as DeviceCMYK (no profile), again to lower the risk of CMYK-to-CMYK conversions.

If the goal is to have a logo color that maintains its appearance across all print devices, a Lab value read from a printed color is, in theory, the best option. Then the conversion is directly from the measured, device independent, Lab space (it doesn't need a profile) to the print CMYK space, which can happen at export or later at output. Pantone provides Lab values for their solid ink swatches, so it is possible to choose the color from the swatch book and use its process Lab values for the logo.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 08, 2019 Feb 08, 2019

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Hi Rob, Abambo

Thanks again for your thoughts. It's continuing to be complicated! So if I've understood correctly, sounds like my best bet would be to start again essentially, and somehow get hold of maybe a Pantone Colour card thing, or something printed that the MD does like, then take it to a printers(?) to get a Lab reading? Then convert to CMYK for all the vector assets etc, and go from there to find RGB and whatnot. It doesn't seem like the original designer set specific colour values in terms of Pantone shades or whatever (I've checked), and if there's absolutely no way to get a sense of the colour from that EPS untagged CMYK then I guess I'm stuck!

Do you guys do that for all brand colours? Or just when it's a bold or heavily featured brand colour sort of thing? I have to establish the rest of the brand palette too after this!

And also it seems like I should probably get hold of a screen calibrator too. Darn!

What do you think?

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