Monday, January 20, 2014

Color Communication in the Digital Age

Contributor:  Brian Ashe, Solutions Architect, Pantone Digital Business Unit
Accurate color communication starts with a good color specification. Traditionally this has been done using a physical standard. This physical standard is compared to production color visually. The subjectivity of this method does not always lead to satisfactory results.
However, advances in measurement technology and software now allow brand owners and designers to specify digital color standards.
How do you tap into the creativity of a designer, and still be able to communicate accurate color to others involved in the production process? If a color is specified in a digital format,  it can be passed down the supply chain (e.g., ink supplier, prepress, press process control, or post production quality control) and used around the world with no change, keeping the integrity of the original design. The CxF (Color eXchange Format) allows global communication with unmatched accuracy across various instruments and software applications.
The main characters that need to communicate color are typically:
  • Brand Owner – overall responsibility for the brand color and wants to protect that brand while keeping costs under control and meeting deadlines.
  • Designer – colors are specified via a pallet (e.g., Pantone) or perhaps a previous printed sample. If a CxF color is specified, color communication is greatly enhanced.
  • Prepress – needs to be able to interpret the designer's creation and produce a digital file that can be printed. If a CxF color is specified, it can easily be incorporated in the most popular page layout applications.
  • Ink Supplier – needs to mix exact colors, not just CMYK screen combinations, but also many spot colors (Brand Colors). CxF is compatible with advanced ink formulation software.
  • Press Process Control – consistency is paramount, even more so if color management is to be employed, CxF can be used as reference files for inline press measurement.
  • Post Production Quality Control – needs an objective measure, not subjective judgment. CxF can be used as a reference file for hand-held measurement devices.
  • Archive – requires long-term reliable storage, able to reproduce at a later date, and electronically transportable. CxF meets these requirements very nicely.
Attention New York City-area marketers and graphic designers: Join experts from X-Rite Pantone and Esko and explore Color Communications in-depth at Consolidated Graphics' exclusive "Lunch 'n Learn NYC" event on January 30 in Manhattan. Presentations begin at 10am, and include lunch. For more information and to register, go to