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Why Color Management Matters (And the Tools to Use to Make it Easy)

This article was sponsored by our friends at Datacolor—the go-to resource for over 10,000 brands, leading manufacturers, creative professionals, and retailers for all aspects of color management.

Color management is essential to all forms of digital design and production, from graphic illustration to photography, videography, and more. At its most basic, it ensures the color you see or want is the color you get in your finished creative product. This can include the accurate representation of a color that inspired you, the exact hue of a company’s brand logo, or a photographic print that properly replicates the colors seen when the picture was taken.

Along with accurate and consistent color assurance, color management improves efficiencies in productivity, reducing the need for extensive post-production color corrections. Streamlining the digital workflow process not only saves time and money, it reduces ink and paper consumption – resulting in additional cost savings plus environmentally sound practices, too.

In this article, we’ll break down two essential considerations when it comes to working with color—Color Space and Color Profiles—plus, we’ll share a list of tools to help you manage colors effectively in your digital creations.

Color Space

One reason color management can be so challenging in the digital workspace is due to how different devices “interpret” color. For instance, cameras, monitors, and scanners use RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color, while printers use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) color inks. On top of that, there is no white ink, so whiteness is reliant on paper choice. In addition, each device is factory set to handle a different range or gamut of color. Gamut refers to the range of colors that can be reproduced. A digital camera often has a larger color gamut than a printer.

Without color management, an image taken with a digital camera that has brilliant colors can look washed out, muddy or just plain incorrect when printed. So how is it possible to integrate these different color spaces? Through color profiles.

Color Profiles

A color profile is a set of data that defines a color space. In turn, color spaces define the gamut of a device. In 1993, the International Color Consortium created a standardized system for color profiling (ICC profiles) which allowed device manufacturers to create products that could be used across a continually evolving range of image applications. But because devices (DSLRs, monitors, printers, scanners, etc.) have different capabilities, they can still have different ICC profiles—for example, one device may have a wider range of reds while another has a wider range of blues.


Color Tool: Datacolor SpyderX—Makes Precision Monitor Calibration Quick & Easy

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To ensure the most accurate color conversion from one ICC profile to another, using a color management tool like the SpyderX calibrator is essential. Its groundbreaking lens-based color engine provides a higher level of color accuracy for multiple monitors. It features room-light monitoring, automatic color profile changing, precise screen color, shadow detail, and white balance for rich color, beautiful depth, and crisp shadow detail.

It takes literally only a minute or two to calibrate your monitor, and features quick and easy single-click calibration and wizard workflow with 12 predefined calibration targets for advanced color accuracy. It’s so intuitive, you don’t have to be a color expert.

You can use the SpyderProof feature to compare before-and-after displays of your images. And because monitor technologies change and improve over time, you can be assured that SpyderX supports most screen types, recent resolutions, and gamuts.


Color Tool: Datacolor ColorReader EZ—Accurately Match and Identify Colors Instantly

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Color is an inherent digital design element, so its accuracy in proper identification and/or matching is essential, whether it’s integrating color inspiration into your design work, matching to a client’s brand color logo, or developing color palettes that create visual mood and enhance featured products.

The ColorReader EZ is a handy, portable, Bluetooth-enabled device that lets you scan the flat surface of any color you want to identify or match, in an instant. Download the free ColorReader app and sync it to the device, calibrate the ColorReader EZ, and you’re ready to capture any color you want. Place the device on the flat surface of the color you’d like to measure and press the button to scan the color. You’ll get the top 3 paint color matches from the most popular paint brands. Tap your match to get its precise color values, including RGB, Hex, and CIELab, so you can incorporate these values into your digital workflow. You can also easily convert these values to Pantone colors with Photoshop. Tap your matched color again to find coordinating colors as well as color schemes such as Complementary, Triad, Analogous and Monochromatic palettes for additional color inspiration.

Photographers can also find Savage Universal Seamless Background Paper colors on the ColorReader EZ, along with coordinating colors to incorporate set design elements with a background—perfect for photoshoot planning.

You can save and label your color matches on the ColorReader EZ device and create palettes that you can share immediately with clients, colleagues and other design professionals


About Datacolor: For over 50 years Datacolor has been the go-to resource for over 10,000 brands, leading manufacturers, creative professionals, and retailers for all aspects of color management. Datacolor understands that details count, color matters, and trust is everything. Each client and every industry has unique color challenges and Datacolor is equipped to handle all of them.

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