Getting the Colors Right When Soft Proofing

Why office lights, big windows and red shirts can cause color-editing issues, and why someday color proofing may be all in your head.

Graphics professionals everywhere want to reap the benefits of soft proofing. Instead of paying for shipping and waiting for a hard-copy proof, publishers can eyeball print designs and documents on a monitor.

However, doing it right is easier said than done—especially when it comes to proofing color images. While it may take time, effort and money to get up to speed on most aspects of soft proofing and color management, resourceful publishers can typically fix one obstacle pretty easily.

"Room lighting is the single most underestimated cause of color matching issues," said Chris Murphy, co-author of Real World Color Management, 2nd Edition. Fortunately, wrote Murphy, who is also founder of Color Remedies, a Boulder, Colo.-based training and consulting firm, its not a monumental effort to get a room ready for color work.

David Q. McDowell, standards consultant, said, "The problem weve got, bottom line, is that the typical artist likes an environment which is almost anathema for doing a good job of judging color and color management."

A longtime Eastman Kodak Co. employee (retired) and now an NPES volunteer, McDowell currently chairs a number of groups and has edited more than a dozen graphic arts ISO standards.

Because graphic designers "have got all sorts of colored things around them and they wear bright clothing ... and theyre sitting looking at a monitor and all the crap around them is reflected in the monitor," McDowell said, "Theyre their own worst enemy."

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