The Design Side of Color Management

Testing prints in a light booth"Make it pretty." If you have ever worked as a graphic designer, you have probably heard that statement more than once. Don’t misunderstand — a large part of a graphic designer’s job is creating an image or project that is visually appealing. But there isn’t a "make it pretty" button that makes that happen.

Perhaps the most important variable in the decisions that a designer makes is choice of color. But color has to be managed and many aspects of the process start with the design decisions. Designers understand that color is a feeling and that the colors they choose convey a message to the consumer. Therefore, it’s imperative that choice of color is not taken lightly.

It’s also almost impossible to determine and recognize a specific color in words. It is generally agreed that grass is green and the sky is blue, but the blue sky one person sees in his or her mind’s eye could be very different than someone else’s perception of the sky. And, while clients tend to want to describe color through ineffective words like "warmer" or "cooler," designers need to understand that color is best defined mathematically.

Close up of a SpectroPadDesigners need to understand the limitation and opportunity variables, such as light and the gamut of printing devices. They need to conceptualize how we as human beings perceive color. They need to familiarize themselves with the color management software and tools available to them.

Do you need a spectrophotometer? Do you need a light booth? How will you be viewing critical color? Do you know how to calibrate a monitor? What software will you use for color verification?

It's important that designers create and follow a workflow using all of this knowledge and color management tools so that they can produce consistent, repeatable and predictable color.

Read more about the design considerations of color management and check out PRINTING United Alliance's upcoming virtual Color Management Boot Camp opportunities. This training is the first step in achieving a Digital Color Professional Color certification.

Also Tagged: Graphic Design