Swop your Swop!

Here’s a little bit advice for designing print pieces. For years (a decade or more) adobe has included expanded CMYK color gamuts into their design software. However, they have always defaulted your working space to a color space that dates back to the 70’s and 80’s, and was used for web presses.

This color space is called Swop, and if you check your working color space after reading this, you’ll most likely find this relic color space in play.

Gracol, is a far superior CMYK color space, and the standard output profile for nearly every digital press on the market. However, submitting your work in a smaller, limited gamut, will never allow you achieve this extra pop in color. Switch to Gracol, and milk CYMK for as much as it can offer, and in most cases, eliminate a color conversion in the process.

I have tons of tips for color management on the design end of things (and even more for print). I’ll do my best to post more. And feel free to shoot over questions. And welcome, to most controversial topic in print!

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If your print vendor has a profile preference, use it. Even if it is US Web Coated Swop V2.
For wide format you are more likely to hear “use RGB” rather than Gracol. A lot of the machine/media profiles use a much wider ink color gamut than typical conventional CMYK machines. And if you happen to have a vendor that uses proprietary profiles, even better.
But you only get any benefit from that type of conversion if your imagery has never been ‘downsaved’ to CMYK. You can’t get your RGB back after you dumb a file down to the smaller CMYK gamut.

I’ve found Gracol to be more common in the ISO regulated print shops. Great for reproducibility and stability, but maybe not so much for the high and low ends of the print gamut. A lot of shops correct all their various machines to be consistent across media no matter what machine is used. You lose some of the fidelity of what machines are capable of doing with that homogenizing process.

You know PD, I should have been more specific. I’ve been a sheetfed guy for so long i’m ashamed to say i never considered how the information would apply to wide format, or other print methodology for that matter.

Gracol is repeatable, and generally pleasing to the eye. Repeatability being what we’re so desperate for. And when you’re profiling a broad fleet of devices, you can only achieve what the weakest link in the fleet can produce. Ultimately your best engine or press will have to ‘dumb itself’ down to account for the lesser devices. Or, the lesser devices, are excluded from the process - and used for non critical work.

I kinda figured you weren’t including my ilk.
I believe any machine should be used to its fullest potential. I work with some fairly adventurous folk when it comes to wide format and while they may have a system in place where any print can be fairly accurately duplicated across media, if you want something really special and know how to ask for it, it can happen.

We all tend to stick to our specialties. Truth be told I don’t know a tremendous amount about wide format. I’ve been the operator of several wide format devices, but never had the drive to take a deep dive into print genre.

I was busy. Busy chasing tiny particles, examining lasers and mirrors, transfer belt materials and styles, wires, transfer voltages, developing systems and fuser designs… that took all my drive. And became a passion.

I still find it remarkable that we can move a dry powder from a drum, to a belt, and ultimately to a substrate, then melt the powder… and end up with an image that actually looks like something other than a toddler finger painting.

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