Colour through professional eyes
How did it all begin? Exposing negatives and positives in dark rooms…. All the work was done on film. It could easily take a week to do an artwork whereas now they take half an hour on a Mac. By today’s standards it was a slow process, but at the time it was cutting edge, the height of packaging technology!
The introduction of digital cameras put an end to mounting film transparencies onto huge drum scanners, we now go direct to digital. Large advancements in technology has had a huge effect on the repro process and put the industry into warp speed many years ago.
Now we are in the age of the iMac, colour management and image re-touching has never been so easy to manage… or has it?
Everyone perceives colour differently, but ultimately is has to be appealing to the consumer and meet client expectations. However, doing this in the world of print is often quite difficult.
Discussing older projects and the trials and tribulations of each often brings up issues that could still occur today. Quite a few years ago, we had a client who took the green colouring out of mushy peas, making them brown… The issue arose here when we had to make the hero shot appealing on pack!
The Printing Process
The process of printing hasn’t changed much since its first conception. The four printing plates, cyan, magenta, yellow & black are still at the core of the industry. Other technology such as hexachrome, or multi-colour printing, keep reinventing themselves but are always trying to improve on the basic process.
Focussing on colour separation, the CMYK colour space is used for print, so RGB files are converted and colours are separated in software such as Photoshop.
For example, when printing on flexo a cyan may want to be removed to ensure that the end product looks correct once it’s gone through the printer.
At the moment colours have to be chosen through a Pantone colour swatch book and adjusted for printer curves manually. The next step on from this is PantoneLIVE which takes into consideration the substrate, the print process and printers curve, and all those other factors in order to print to an accuracy which is of a higher level. PantoneLIVE does so upfront at the design stage of the packaging process, to achieve colour consistency regardless of substrate or where / how it is printed.
In the future, with the rate of technology advancements increasing, who knows where we will be in 5 years…?