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  • #16
    Originally posted by PrintDriver View Post
    Without looking it up on your layout software, what color is 71/11/91/62?
    Yeah, but without looking it up what color is Pantone 218 or, worse, Pantone 18-1438 TCX? Pantone does, I think, make a CMYK swatch book, but, of course, it doesn't even come close to matching all the millions of CMYK combinations possible.

    Anyway, thanks for the detailed explanation. I greatly appreciate the time you took to explain all that. I think I have a better understanding of the problem now.

    CMYK, as it relates to traditional printing, is more standardized and consistent. Halftone dot percentages can be measured to very fine tolerances both when the plates are burned and as it's coming off the press. Digital seems to be a different matter since it's newer and with more proprietary differences between one manufacturer and the next.

    Correct me if I've misunderstood, but even though CMYK percentages are theoretically exact, neither RGB displays nor most digital printers really exist in the CMYK world, and since various digital printers have their own profiles, inks, algorithms, etc., to approximate the desired colors on the wider assortment of media digital can handle, the room for inexactness is a mile wide, whereas it's more easily controlled, measured and adjusted in offset -- at least until the industry matures a little more.

    So with that assumption in mind, even though digital printing doesn't reside in the Pantone ink world either, at least Pantone is a smaller, more easily approximated standard since it involves, maybe, a couple thousand colors (with actual swatches and formulas) rather than the near infinite number of possible RGB or CMYK combinations.

    I still tend to steer away from digital when I have a reasonable choice between it an offset. Everyone's advice (including my own) is to check with the printer before guessing on a print job. Even so, most digital printers I run into, when asked, will just say something along the lines of, "Send me a CMYK file. It'll be fine." When I ask them why I should do that when their printers have a larger gamut than CMYK, they'll usually respond with, "Well, we can handle most anything you send us."

    Some of the bigger, better printers already do this, but what I'd really like to see are detailed file preparation specs on their websites (both digital and offset). Those specs might very well say, we can handle most anything you send us within these specified parameters, but if you really want the best printing job possible, here are the specs for exactly what we need from you.

    This is off-topic, but this discussion got me thinking about a series of booklets we designed for a government agency. To keep their costs down, they decided to use newsprint, and being government, they went with the lowest bidder, which in this case was a telephone book printer with an ancient and huge 4-color web press.

    We decided a press check was warranted, so I show up at the appointed time and they're just starting up the press. Web presses can be very loud, so there was a guy with a bullhorn standing at the end of the press watching the printed material come out. As it arrived, he would grab his bullhorn and shout things to the guy further back on the press, like, "Hey Steve, back off the red a little bit. It's all coming out sort of pinkish. No, that's too much, now everything's looking a bit green." Given the speed of a web press, they were a good 5,000 copies into job before the guy with the bullhorn decided things looked more or less right.

    My only other experience with this particular printer (again, a government job) was when I showed up for a press check in the middle of the night. only to find that they had shut the press down for the night. The explanation was that one of the pressmen had fallen into the web and had his arm torn off a little earlier. I was told that they were all a bit upset about it and that, anyway, it would take a full day to clean up the mess and get the press running again. Last I knew, they had gone out of business, and had sold that gigantic web press to a newspaper in Guatemala. I've wondered since then how many Guatemalan pressmen have been maimed and deafened by the thing.

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    • #17
      I can look up what Pantone 218 or Pantone 18-1438 TCX are, using swatches that I can aim a spec at (If I had a Textile book, that is...that's where the professionalism of the designer comes into play.......) and can adjust accordingly.
      I can't look up a CMYK color and the spec only tells me what ink is on there.
      I can print the OP's C 4, M 100, Y 88, K0 on four different media and come up with 4 different colors just depending on how the inkset reacts with the coating on the media, or the dot gain of the fabric.

      There is no real halftone pattern. The machines use a more stochastic pattern and each machine lays ink down a little differently. Some just straight line, some in wave patterns to hide the head tracking. Then you add in light cyan and light magenta on the 6 color machines, or orange, green and violet on the extended gamut OGV machines just adding to the mix confusion.

      One of the (many) reasons I hate Pantone so much is they are so in bed with the machine manufacturers. Most machines are ''Pantone certified'' and almost all of the canned profiles revolve around matching Pantone Coated by the numbers. So every year, Pantone comes out with a new book and some new colors and the profiles all get changed. That's how our swaps work too. By the numbers.. It's always been a mystery to me why you just can't put a spec on two different colors and find out what you need to adjust to get one to look like the other just by the numbers. You can get close, but you still end up doing several ring-around blocks if it has to be nailed exaclty just because of the interaction with the media itself, then inputting the CMYK equivalent to the color you are trying to hit directly into the output file.

      Then, as mentioned, the media company might decide to tweek their coating or fabric finishing method. If doing a large run, you overbuy on the same lot number just so you aren't redoing the color profiling in the middle of a job.

      Pantone did have a great ''Process'' color set pre-Plus, if you ever used the DS series color books. It's now designated P and for some reason not nearly as useful. I think we just outgrew the need for it.

      I once tried writing a spec sheet for file submittal. Because we do a lot of outsourcing though, it became too confusing to just post it online. Now we tailor our response to the specific client need. The two major types of print we do are CMYK inkjet and RGB lambda. After the initial dismay at RGB, it's all pretty straightforward. But you get off into things like porcelain which is CMYK but no real magenta, so you have to think more 'earthy' tones and allow for off colors due to the firing process. Sure you can get magenta in the dye-sub version of porcelain, but that's not something we tend to offer. Doesn't last as long as an exterior product. The heat thing is also the same for the HPL print process. You can have a magenta in HPL. The HP part stands for High Pressure. They use massive pressure (1200+ psi) and heat in the creation of this material so colors aren't necessarily consistent if runs are more than a couple weeks apart. Not to mention you are using an inkjet to print the stuff....

      Or another example would be printing on fabric. On any of the standard polyester fabrics that heat sublimate, I'd tell you to use the solid coated book. But if we're outsourcing to the Infinitus over in Stockholm, the fabrics are more cotton based and the colors are going to look more like the uncoated swatches, so using the solid uncoated book might be more appropriate. BTW, if you are doing something large enough to use the Infinitus (up to 40' x 150' seamless,) and don't allow time to get a proof, that would be bad planning.

      Then we start in on various Image resolution requirements and bleed requirements and it just got to be a horrible confusing mess. I started a wireframe on a more interactive, determine-by-use, radio button type thing but haven't yet been able to make it mesh. Then we'd have to find someone to code it....then someone would blame me if they pushed the wrong radio button....

      The color field is moving fast now as is the whole industry. For better or for worse. I do fear it is going to take a lot of the customization out of the print, more than has already been lost, but ''dumbing down'' is the wave of the future. Also, hedge fund managers have discovered the print industry and have noticed wide format as a potential opportunity to make money. There is a lot of consolidation going on right now. And a lot of product offering loss. I've lost a few vendors the last couple years that I haven't been able to replace. I doubt I'll be able to retire before the train wreck.
      Last edited by PrintDriver; 08-12-2017, 03:51 PM.

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