|AMAZING TRUE COLOUR REPRODUCTION|
|When colour correcting we like to work with you, the artist, on a one-to-one basis, as we believe that only you can decide on your final print. For artists who live further a field or with time constraints, you can send your art via post or digital upload, we can then provide you with a proof of your artwork by post. All colour correcting and editing is carried out in our fully colour managed editing suite. Here, you will be able to compare (live view) your artwork on screen, along side your original work (this is called soft proofing). We can make any necessary adjustments prior to printing a proof print. We believe it is extremely important that YOU, the Artist, oversees the colour correction. After all, it’s your art, your interpretation, NOT ours.|
COLOUR MATCHING IN FINE ART REPRODUCTION
Once an artwork has been photographed, a digital image of the original piece has been created, the work of the print technician has only just begun. Perhaps the most important step between Original and Print is the colour matching process. This process ensures the printed copy on paper or canvas will look as much like the original painting as possible.
There are numerous factors involved in colour matching, affected not only by the digital image, but by the printer, the paper or canvas, the ink – even temperature and humidity can all alter the outcome.
TO ACHIEVE A COLOUR MATCH
CAMERA Studio lighting, and a high-quality dSLR /medium/large format camera intended for art reproduction, will create the best digital file possible.
SCANNER Light must not enter between the scanner bed and the artwork; conditions must be maintained if multiple images are required, in the case of a large artwork.
MONITOR Correct colour calibration; RGB colour mode should be used to best represent the image on screen.
SUBSTRATE Every substrate (surface) that is printed requires a different colour profile. If multiple types of papers are used – a fine art paper and a photographic paper, for instance – multiple profiles must be used as well.
INKS The colour profile will take into consideration the printer model, and therefore the number and type of inks used. Ink cannot always perfectly match a colour created by blending paints.
TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY Low temperatures can cause pigment inks to thicken, hindering their ability to drip from the print head. Humidity can change the absorbency of the paper, rendering the colour profile incorrect.
WHAT IS COLOUR MATCHING?
Colour matching is a process used by our print technicians to ensure the printed reproduction of an artwork matches the original piece as closely as possible. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that a 100% match will be achieved. Limitations of the printer and scanner (outlined in more detail below) mean the exact colour created by blending paints cannot always be mimicked by ink. Additionally, it is the eye that ultimately compares the reproduction and the original; some eyes will see colours differently, some will pick up more tonal differences than others. That said, the print technician will do everything in their power to create a print that is virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Color matching is not simply a matter of playing within Photoshop until the image on the computer screen looks like the physical artwork sitting next to it. Numerous factors involved in colour correction (outlined briefly above) must be taken into consideration before the print technician will be satisfied enough to print the digital image.
Even at that point, we will produce a hard proof – a section of the print, on the paper or canvas that will be used for the full print, at the size that section will be printed – for comparison. For each new substrate (surface) onto which ink is laid to create a print, a new color match must be done. Common substrates for fine art reproduction include canvas, fine art paper, photographic paper and fabric.
For the final print to be the best possible reproduction, care and consideration must be taken at every step of the process. The artist or owner of the original artwork should be willing to leave their work in the hands of the print technician for a number of days, as having this piece available for comparison is essential.
One of the most important terms to understand when it comes to colour matching is “Colour Gamut”. Every printer, substrate (paper, canvas, etc), and computer monitor has a different colour gamut, or range of colours, it can accurately reproduce. Practically speaking, this means that a colour seen on the computer monitor may be impossible to recreate with the printer. In such cases, the printer’s software is designed to recognize this inability and swap this colour for the closest shade it can create. Colour gamuts are a primary consideration when creating a colour profile.
The human eye has a wider colour gamut (ie: can see more colours) than any digital device. Generally speaking, computer monitors have a wider colour gamut than printers, though there are still some colours a printer can reproduce that a monitor cannot, and of course vice versa. To further complicate matters, each different substrate – fine art paper, photographic paper, canvas – is limited in the colours it can accurately display. Canvas often has a low colour gamut and has difficulty distinguishing between similar dark shades, so a darker image would appear mostly black or gray, and lack the desired gradients.
ICC Color Profiles
Any time an image is being transferred from one view to another – camera/scanner to computer monitor, computer monitor to printed image – the colour profile for that particular device/substrate must be used to ensure the colours are correctly reproduced in the new view.
ICC stands for International Colour Consortium. The organization certifies colour profiles so they can be widely recognized and utilized by different programs (since each program has its own Colour Management System). Colour profiles are made up of tables of data that help the computer correctly display the colours in the transferred image, and are created by the company who manufactured the device. The profile tells the print technician the lightest and darkest tones in the image file and the colour range (gamut), as well as the relationship between the colour tones. In addition, a colour profile can describe the abilities of the monitor, camera, scanner, printer, or substrate.
Soft proof – a digital view of the image once the colour match is done but before it has been printed, provided the monitor is correctly calibrated.
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