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Keeping colors consistent from the design stage through printing has always been a challenge. But it has become even more so now that graphic designers and printing firms use so many different makes and models of monitors, scanners, digital cameras, and output devices”?not to mention different versions of page-layout and RIP software. That's why the ICC (International Color Consortium) continues to develop and refine standardized methods of measuring and communicating how various input and output devices reproduce color. These standardized methods of measuring and reporting color data are what many people in the graphic communications field commonly refer to as “color management.” But the term color management continues to mean different things to different people.

According to the latest color-management report from TrendWatch Graphic Arts, 63% of graphic-arts firms report that they are using color-management of some type. However, additional data indicates that more than 50% of the printing companies that said they used color management indicated they consider “eyeballing” jobs to be color management. In other words, instead of using digital color-measuring devices, they simply visually compare the printed output to whatever original or proof the graphic designer supplied.

TWGA concludes that the adoption of measured-data-based color management among printing companies isn't widespread–and is even less so for creative professionals and publishers. In addition, TWGA reports that:

65% of industry publishers do not use color-management technology.
66% of design and production firms do not currently use color management.
The number-one color-management technology used by ad agencies is workstation-based color-management software (59%)
12% of Internet creatives are challenged by color management for print; and 8% are challenged by color management for the Web.
5% of design and production firms plan to invest in color-management equipment.

“The classic driving forces for any technology are better, cheaper, and easier, and these forces are ever present in the color-management model,” notes Vince Naselli, director of TWGA. “The software solutions are more sophisticated than they have ever been before, they're cheaper in many cases, and they've become much easier to use. Also, graphic-arts pros have become savvier about what color management involves and how to implement it. Add to this the fact that more designers and publishers seek to eliminate their reliance on outsourced prepress services, and you realize the growing impact color management should be having on the industry.”

TWGA's recently issued 129-page report”?”Color Management: Another Gray Area”?is an update of a report originally published in 2001. It can purchased for $1595 from the TrendWatch Graphic Arts online eStore or by calling 866-873-6310. (TrendWatch Graphic Arts:




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