July 23, 2011

Color Calibration, Differing Opinions

What tools do you use for: Color Calibration, from my LinkedIn Group, In House Designers

Color Calibration is a touchy subject with many differing opinions. I've done pretty much everything to have my screens match my proofs and have come all the back around to the thought that it really doesn't matter unless you work in the dark, have an expensive monitor, and spend the time and money to use a color calibration system often. After all that, if your not doing the same thing all the time it doesn't matter anyway. So it makes sense for for a photographer, and a pre-press department to spend the time and money to calibrate, but what about designers?

That's my opinion anyway, but Arnold Kirschner an active member of the In House Designers group had a different opinion that I found very interesting and wanted to share.

What you are doing is the first step. Go for the highest highlight with detail, the same goes for the shadows and set them in by whatever means is the most comfortable for you. I use curves because you can get a better idea of how other tones are being effected by looking at the graph. Next pick a part of the image that you want as the mid-tone area and set that. On the RGB value scale I go for these numbers:240-120-15 (or 20). From that point on I use CMYK measurements because it's easier keep a percentage no higher than 95% and no lower than 5%. When checking the value of a color try not to blow out anything when detail carrying tone have to count. Example: for a red it's better to have c1%-m100%-y85%-k (black) 0% than to drop out the cyan altogether. You will still get a bright red with detail protected by leaving in that cyan.

As colors get darker the lowest primary gets higher. At some point the wanted colors reach maximum (99%) but the low color, the darkening color, can still go higher and at about 50% the color that you want to keep will start to go neutral, example: (all numbers are in the CMYK order) A red will start to gray up when, 50-100-100-0. For inkjet or press try adjusting the color to: 20-100-100-25. The black will darken the color without making it neutral while the cyan will and is the neutralizing color. This principal hold true across the board.

With enough experience you can pretty much know what values will work for just about any color or tonal step.

There is much more to say about this but the principal is sound and will start you on the way there. I even won a very nice bet by color correcting a job with the monitor set to BW. No color display. If I can do it anyone can do it.

I hope this helped a little. There is much to know.

Arnold Kirschner teaches a class called  "Photographer's Photoshop". It's currently not available online but I'm working on him to do it.

Thanks Arnold, I'm going to check it out.


Calibration said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.Calibration

Arnie said...

I enjoyed reading it as well. The point I'm trying to make is that with all these "calibration" systems out there, no particular one seems to do the job across the board. None of these systems get the entire chain from design displays, proofs (soft or hard), proofing devices, printing presses and ink jet to be in color sync and maintain it.

It's hard and constant work to keep everything even close in any consistent way. What I say in my comment is that you can set things up to be workable, but you still need to have the savvy and the eye, gained from experience to function in a professional way. You also save money by keeping it simple.