Color management, wow, where to start? In the early days, trying to explain to someone the concept of color management was rather difficult. The days of hearing "but it looked better on my monitor" or "why doesn't the color match my monitor or my printer?" have dwindled considerably. The easiest way to try and explain to people was to tell them to walk into any store that sells TV's, and look at the wall(s) of TV's and you'll notice that every single one was a different color. Even the same manufacturers side by side were sometimes drastically different, so as you can see, the inconsistencies were often very obvious. Now a days, the tolerances are much closer, and most desktop monitors have improved as well.
Color management has come a long way in the last twenty-plus years. Most consumer grade monitors are much more accurate and there are a lot of professional grade monitors that claim to hit 98% or higher of a particular color space, normally either sRGB or Adobe 1998. Is it neccessary to spend that much on a professional monitor, no, you'll be just fine with most of the monitors manufactured in the last couple of years. That being said, everyone should understand that "reasonable color" is the industry norm, because of all of the variations in the many printing processes. We don't always buy into that line of thinking and we would like to think that we can raise the bar a little higher.
With the advent of increased resolution in modern wide format printers, along with high quality software RIPs (raster image processors), acheiving near photographic quality is now pretty much the new standard. The one thing that a RIP will do, is provide profiles for each printer and media combination that ensures that the color is accurate. Although most of the RIPs these days will make the conversion on the fly, if images and logos are not all in the same color space, it makes it more difficult to trouble shoot a problem when it arises. That being said, there is always that one color that does not want to cooperate and comes out pink, instead of red, or purple instead of blue, the list can go on and on. One of the best things that you can do is to keep your monitor settings consistent and your document colors all in either in RGB or CMYK color space. Another thing that is very helpful when dealing with color is a standard referred to as a Pantone color chart. The Pantone color system is available in all of the professional software that is discussed under Artwork and File Preparation, and they also make several different books with "paint" chips available for both coated and uncoated stocks.
When our pre-press department opens a file, we will honor all embedded profiles and at the same time, we will let you know if there is a font missing or perhaps an image that doesn't quite have enough resolution to look it's best at the final size it's being printed. Over the last couple years we have found that most projects do not require a physical proof, but that being said, if you are very particular about your colors, or if your branding requires more precise results, we highly recommend a hard proof so that no one is disappointed.
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