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L*a*b* colours in print

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  • L*a*b* colours in print

    Hi guys,

    We recently provided artwork to a client, and as usual things changed considerably at the printer itself. This is of course to be expected, considering we printed on a coloured substrate that affected the ink etc etc.

    But now we've received feedback from the printer regarding the final colours they used.
    Two colours are specified as PMS colours, so no problem there, but the third colour is specified in L*a*b* values.
    I was always under the impression that Lab colours were just used for visual or onscreen purposes. Can anyone give me some more info as to how Lab colours would be printed? Is it just simply converted to CMYK values or do you need special printing machines? What are the possibilities?


  • #2
    LAB is a more exact method of calling out colors. It uses a 3-dimensional model that takes a book to explain, so I'll let you look it up elsewhere. It is supposed to be universal in terms of how they read on a spectrometer. That said, not all print shops are up to speed on LAB, but are getting there.

    Any print device can print LAB colors, up to a point. You are still working with CMYK inks, so it is possible that a LAB spec won't be in gamut (guessing yours is, because you got it from a print vendor.)

    Because CMYK values print differently on different output devices, the LAB values are more accurate. You just have to find a place that has the optical equipment, the rip and the knowledge to use them correctly. It's a simple question to ask.


    • #3
      Ok thanks. Yeh, I've tried to read up on other sites, so I understand that Lab has a more visual range that can't always be represented by CMYK, but as you say, these values should be fine as I got it from the printer

      What I still don't fully understand is how exactly it is printed. Does it just mean that the printer would mix an ink specially to match those Lab values or just convert it to CMYK colour. Or does it mean that you actually have to have a special printer like a hexachrome printing machine or something?

      The way I understand it from your previous answer is that it is more a matter of the rip and the actual knowledge of the printer, wether they can convert the lab colour to the correct output to match it as best possible. Is that correct?

      The reason I want to understand it better, is just in case we ever need to give these colour specifications to another printer, for instance to print something else than the packaging, like advertising or posters or whatever. How do I specify it in my documents? I'm so used to using PMS swatches in Illustrator or creating matching CMYK values if we're not using PMS. But it sounds to me like I just need to create a Lab swatch in the same way I create a CMYK swatch normally (just with the Lab values, of course) and if we get it to a printer who doesn't understand it... find another who does?


      • #4






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