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CHROMiX ColorNews Issue #23 - The ins and outs of GRACoL 7 and G7

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Type: ColorNews
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Welcome to ColorNews, a periodic update on things related to Color Management. We are striving for a regular consistent newsletter of high value to our customers. Please let us know what your interests are so we can address these concerns in our coming issues. ============================================================

C H R O M i X C O L O R N E W S

Issue #23 June 28th, 2006


Notes of Interest:

** Have you noticed that it's been a while since we sent out our last newsletter? We have been involved with many new projects we think you'll find quite interesting. We mention a couple developments below in 'CHROMiX News', and look forward to telling you more in the future.


Table of Contents


1. CHROMiX News
2. Color, Product & Industry News
3. Shows and Events
4. Standard, Spec or Method: The ins and outs of GRACoL 7 and G7
      - an article by CHROMiX President Steve Upton
5. CHROMiX Open Box items for sale
6. ColorNews Administration (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)




Since our last ColorNews, we have been very, very busy:

* CHROMiX has been selected to create the new GRACoL/SWOP G7 plate-curving and gray balancing software IDEALink Curve, we have been certified as a G7 Expert and we are also now able to qualify G7 Master Printers. More information below.

* For some time now, customers have asked for ColorThink training. Wait no longer! CHROMiX is now offering web-based training specifically for ColorThink Pro!! Steve Upton, designer and developer of the award-winning ColorThink & ColorThink Pro software, will personally conduct the training. The WebEx class will consist of one two-hour session, and one one-hour session. The first two hours will cover fundamental and intermediate use, and touch on some advanced concepts. The second session, to be held at a later date to allow for student experimentation beforehand, will cover advanced concepts and questions. All you need is a current browser and ColorThink Pro. The price for the training is $450. If you don't have ColorThink Pro, the above training plus ColorThink Pro is $725 (new version), or $625 (upgrade from ColorThink standard version). For more information or to register, call Sales at 866-CHROMiX x1 or email sales(at)

* ColorThink Pro was released in December and is doing well. There is a bug-fix beta (3.0.1) now available. You will need to download and install the full version of Pro before using the beta, as this beta package does not contain the entire installation. Also, beta versions do not run in Demo mode.

* Looking for an older version of ColorThink? You will now be able to find select past versions of ColorThink and ColorThink Pro in a new area titled: 'Older Versions' on the ColorThink page (catchy title, huh?). Currently we have ColorThink v2.1.2 posted. Click here

* CHROMiX would like to officially welcome Pat Herold to our team. Pat manages our technical support and profile production, and comes to us with a long history of color QA experience. We're glad to you have with us!


Color, Product & Industry News


The International Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEAlliance) announced that leading color management and on-press consultants have been certified as GRACoL Experts. According to Don Hutcheson, Chair of the GRACoL Committee and President of Hutcheson Consulting, "The G7 methodology is not an attempt to create new standards, but a way of utilizing existing ISO (International Standards Organization) Standards in a more efficient and effective way. The G7 methodology is revolutionary because it is the first specification designed to reliably and efficiently match the visual appearance of multiple devices by defining gray balance and NPDC (neutral print density curves) instead of the traditional method of measuring TVI (dot gain) for each color." For more : Click here

In 2003 the International Color Consortium (ICC) and Technical Committee 130 (TC130) of the ISO entered into a cooperative agreement through which specifications initiated or developed by the ICC could be jointly pursued and put forward as International Standards by TC130 and the ICC. This agreement provides for simultaneous publication and distribution by both groups. The first International Standard Profile Specification developed under this agreement was published as ISO 15076-1:2005. This International Standard provides both a cross-platform device profile format and a color management system architecture defined by the ICC. Such device profiles can be used to translate color data created on one device into another device's native color space. The acceptance of this format by operating system vendors allows end users to transparently move profiles, and images with embedded profiles, between different operating systems. The availability of this document as an International Standard facilitates its use in many venues, such as the widely used family of PDF/X file exchange standards, and the newly published International Standard for variable data printing.

IDEAlliance also announced a cooperative effort with other members of the ISO TC130 community to propose a unified international characterization data set for commercial offset printing. For more: Click here

EIZO has a White Paper available on the subject of 'Uniformity Compensation' regarding new technology available in the ColorEdge CG221, due out in early August. The new CG221 has sophisticated Uniformity Regulation & Control algorithm technology to reduce uniformity disparities across the screen face. The CG221 will be replacing the ColorEdge CG220 at or near the same price. The white paper is at Click here

EFI announced End of Life Support for ColorProof v5 end-users as of June 1st, 2006. ColorProof v5, a transition product from BestColor ColorProof to EFI Colorproof, was officially discontinued by EFI December 31, 2005. EFI is transitioning its customer base to Colorproof XF, a more enhanced and more modular product line. The current cost to upgrade from ColorProof v5 to EFI Colorproof XF 3.0 is $1200 per license, but we have heard rumors of an imminent price increase.

EFI Colorproof XF versions now incorporate 3D Optimizer, a new easy-to-use tool that optimizes printer output to a specific reference, whether it be a printing press or other output printer. Optimizer supports the Gretag Macbeth Eye-One iO automated measurement device, providing fast, accurate reading of test charts. It also supports the linearization tool of the basic Colorproof XF package, the Color Manager Option, and the Color Verifier Option. Colorproof XF can also process six-color input and simulation profiles. The Color Manager Option, now available for Mac OS X, further enhances RGB workflows for photographic applications, and allows the creation of device link profiles based on up to three different ICC profiles. Also new in the Color Manager Option is support for multi-color profiles for inkjet printers (i.e.: CMYK + orange + green).

DuPont recently selected GretagMacbeth's Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer as the color measurement instrument of choice for its new digital proofing and UV Cure printing system, DuPont Cromalin Largo and DuPont Cromaprint 22UV. DuPont currently embeds the Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer into the Cromalin b series and new Cromalin blue proofing solutions to enable automated robotic calibration for color measurement and accuracy. DuPont also uses the Eye-One device in it's iCertification product, which does local & remote proofing color verification.

TrendWatch Graphic Arts recently released a special report, "Proofing: The Customer is Always Right?Right?". Earlier versions of this study suggested that online and/or PDF-based proofing would start displacing halftone dot-based proofing methods. The current update shows how those trends are starting to reach their logical conclusion. The 150-page report ($995) and other TWGA reports are available for online purchase at the TWGA eStore in PDF format: Trend watch graphic arts or by phone at 66-873-6310.

GretagMacbeth released Eye-One Match v3.6 software, which updates the software for current Eye-One device usage. Match can be downloaded at Click here

Adobe updated Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop CS2 and Photoshop Elements (3.0 & 4.0), which extends Raw file support to eight additional digital camera models, including Canon, Epson, Leaf, Olympus, Pentax and Samsung.

The Rob Galbraith Photography Forum has been sold to new owners and will be fee based. It is now called the Pro Photo Community and registration is at For more information from Rob on this transition go to Click here

Apago announced an upgrade to their Cluster Workflow 2.0, an innovative network server solution for creating reliable and highly scalable workflows for prepress, printers, and magazine and newspaper publishers. Featuring sophisticated scheduling capabilities and fault tolerance, this system maximizes the available computing resources of a networked collection, or cluster, of servers. Combined with workflow production application modules that perform common prepress tasks--such as PDF distilling, ripping, file conversion, preflighting and correction, document assembly, ICC color management, cropping, and repurposing--Cluster Workflow helps users eliminate real-world production bottlenecks.

Epson has selected GretagMacbeth's ProfileMaker v5 to develop and distribute premium ICC profiles for the Epson Stylus Photo R800 printer. The Epson R800 printer uses eight individual ink cartridges to create archival quality glossy and matte photo prints. The new premium ICC profiles are available for download at: Click here




June 20, 2006, The initial meeting of the Seattle chapter of the Pacific Northwest Color Management Users Group took place last Tuesday with CHROMiX, Eizo, Apple, Adobe, and other vendors in attendance. If you missed it, be sure to keep an eye on the following link for notification of the next meeting. Click here

June 27-30, 2006, The InDesign Conference is being held in London June 27-30, and in Stockholm October 3-4, 2006. Join the leading InDesign experts, developers and authors for 3 days of InDesign focused information. The InDesign Master Class Conference will be in Seattle November 6-8.
London: Click here
Stockholm: Click here
Seattle: Click here

July 30 - August 3, 2006, SIGGRAPH 2006 will be held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center; GRAPHITE 2006 will be held November 29-December 2 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ACM SIGGRAPH is dedicated to the generation and dissemination of information on computer graphics and interactive techniques.
Boston: Click here
Kuala Lumpur: Click here

September 7-9, 2006, Photoshop World, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV. This conference brings together photographers, designers, artists, educators, motion graphics designers, and Photoshop users of every kind for a three-day Photoshop love fest of training, learning, and fun. Click here

December 3-5, 2006, The GATF/PIA Color Management Conference. This is the largest and best conference dedicated to managing color in photo, production and print. Keep an eye on this link for more information: Click here

January 7 - 13, 2007, Macworld Conference and Expo, San Francisco, CA. The definitive show for Mac everything. Click here


Standard, Spec or Method: The ins and outs of GRACoL 7 and G7 by CHROMiX President Steve Upton


Perhaps I've spent too much time gazing at color in three dimensions, but I continue to think of color and color concepts in relation to the 3D color wheel from early school days, and in relation to the 3D color gamuts of more recent ICC profiles and the devices they represent. One of the first things I notice about a 3D gamut is the central peak, which represents the paper white in a print profile and, to me, resembles the peak of a tent. Click here

If the white point of a printer's paper represents the peak of a tent, then the neutrals - grays flowing from black up to paper white - are the tent pole holding the whole color structure up. It is interesting to find that human color perception follows this analogy closely. The eye adapts quickly to the most dominant white in a scene - paper, in the case of printing - and the other colors "fall out" relative to this white. Only slightly less important than white, however is gray. The neutrals in a scene are also an important perceptual reference that our visual system uses to help 'position' the relative saturation of other colors.

Indeed, basic image correction techniques involve first adjusting where the white and black points of an image should lie (the footing and angle of the tent pole), and then click-balancing a known-gray element in the image. This pulls the tent pole tight and true, and is often 95% of the correction any image requires. I never cease to get gasps of amazement from the digitally inexperienced when I perform these three simple operations on a seemingly dead image, and it springs to life with a new depth and breadth of color, and, in many cases, it's all the correction the image needs.

Our pro photographer customers, aware of this important color relationship, often apply this principle as a stress test to a color system by first printing a grayscale image. They correctly realize that if the color printer is incapable of handling the first three important parts of image reproduction, then they needn't bother testing its color output. Why bother venturing into a tent that appears ready to topple over at any moment?

So what does this have to do with press output and printing standards? Well, we gray balance cameras, we gray balance monitors, and we gray balance images. Should it not follow that we could gray balance presses? Naturally. Does this mean it hasn't been done up to now? No, gray balancing presses has been done for many years - but differing methods have been used, and some print standards have been based on systems that were not necessarily gray balanced.

So what's different today? In a word, CTP.

Computer-to-plate imaging, the ability to create a printing plate directly from a digital file, has opened up new frontiers in print control. Once printers realized that their new plate making system could be curved to reduce or even eliminate dot gain on press, all sorts of different printing methods ensued. Unfortunately, it was not clear which was the best technique for plate control. Should printers follow the dot gain that their older film-to-plate systems produced? It certainly helped when reprinting older jobs. Should they reduce dot gain to zero? Should they shoot for somewhere in the middle?

When plate curving is combined with modern ICC profile-based color management, the decision is confused further. Profiles can compensate for a wide range of printing conditions so, in some ways, the curving decision is irrelevant once a profile is made for the press. But what if you don't want to profile each and every press condition? What if you receive files that have already been separated to CMYK? Then profiles may not be the solution to regulating press behavior. What do you do?

Wise people who have been considering this problem for some time now have observed that having presses run in their natural state makes for a more stable printing system and happier press operators. It would follow that whatever press condition is selected for a standard should follow the natural behavior of a well maintained press.

Printing experts realize that with the power and flexibility of CTP, we now have the ability to gray balance a press. Wouldn't it be nice to have a standard AND a methodology for press-friendly printing curves that were gray balanced? It would also make sense that the mid-tone gray level of both the black and combined CMY curves were measured for density and gray. This doesn't mean that monitoring solid ink density and TVI (dot gain) numbers should stop. They are important indicators of press behavior, and many diagnostic tools and techniques are based on using them as indicators. What should happen is a reprioritization of measurements' relative importance on press.

In simpler wording, if gray balance is so important in every other stage of imaging, and in color perception, it should be one of the most important things to aim for, and monitor, on press.

There is one massive side benefit of using this technique - press to press consistency. It turns out that gray balance and consistent tone curving is so important to image perception that a print job separated for one printing condition (say SWOP) will look VERY SIMILAR when printed using a different printing system (such as sheet fed GRACoL) when both presses have been gray balanced and toned using the same method. This is huge. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard printers say that profiles and color management can't help them with one of their everyday problems - that of CMYK being created before the paper, press, and even printing company has been chosen. What can we do to help them get their different presses looking as similar as possible so that they can survive the last minute decisions their clients continue to throw at them? The answer lies in gray balance and toning to a standard. (This does not remove the need to use profiles if printing conditions vary in certain important ways, such as ink colors)

This brings us to the topic of standard vs specification vs methodology.

Standard - a standard is a set of measurement aim points and tolerances to be used as an aim point and a means of exchanging data. Things become standards when standards bodies such as the ISO accept them and publish their numbers and methods. Two specific standards that affect printing in gray balance and toning are ISO-12647-2 and ISO-2846-1. I'll discuss these more later.

Specification - a specification is a body of numbers and methods that is put forth as a working technique and may be in line for submission to a standards body for acceptance as a standard. It often doesn't have the strict tolerances of a standard. Specifications we're familiar with in the print world include SWOP and GRACoL. Sometimes specifications are considered an implementation of a standard, where other implementations that use different techniques but also adhere to the standard may also exist.

Methodology - a methodology is, quite simply, a way of doing things. In the case of gray balancing and toning a press, the methodology I'm talking about in this article is called G7 (I bet you were wondering when I would finally get around to it).

So, G7 is NOT GRACoL, and GRACoL is NOT a standard. BUT, both G7 and GRACoL operate within the published tolerances of several ISO printing standards. The G7 gray-balance and toning technique can be applied to GRACoL, SWOP and other printing conditions. As it was formalized at the same time as GRACoL 7, it is often talked about in the same context and is sometimes confused with it. GRACoL 7 is due to be available electronically early 4th quarter of this year, with printed publication in January 2007. G7 is available NOW from the GRACoL website. (Sure it adds to the confusion but it's also the best place to put it for now.)

Make sense? I hope so. If not, please refer to the list of references I have gathered at the end of this article for further reading and reference.

So how does this all affect things? And how (in case you're curious) is CHROMiX involved?

Well, first, GRACoL 7 includes a set of press measurement data to be used to create profiles for sheetfed printing, which will be a considerable improvement over what's available today. Probably the most widely used sheedfed profiles are available in Photoshop and other Adobe software, and are actually based on the Matchprint proofing system rather than an actual press run. Good profiles based on actual press behavior are long overdue. CHROMiX will be creating a full set of profiles based on the beta data soon so stay tuned...

As the data are finalized, we will recreate the profiles from the final release data and update the profiles on our website. The profiles contain our new serial number and versioning tags, and you will be able to tell when yours need to be updated using upcoming software from CHROMiX... stay tuned on that one.

This data is also useful as a reference for evaluating the performance of proofing systems. For instance, it can be combined with profiles - or actual measurements - from your proofing system to illustrate how close your proofing system is to the standard and where its problems or deficiencies may lie. ColorThink Pro can be used for this purpose, and its ColorSmarts Guide includes a technique for just such a comparison.

Second, G7 really is as good as it sounds. There's an entire document describing the step-by step procedure for gray balancing your press or proofing system available on the GRACoL site. It describes a method using measurements and graph paper that determines the best curves for your CTP system. Which brings us to...

Third. CHROMiX has been chosen by IDEALiance, the umbrella organization for both GRACoL and SWOP and Don Hutcheson, the source of the current G7 technique and mathematics, to write a software package to streamline and simplify the application of the G7 method. This package is available this week and is called IDEALink Curve. IDEALiance is the reseller for the software here:

And we are also selling it with our G7 bundle specials mentioned above.

Once again, I have produced a fairly lengthy article, but I felt it was necessary to cover the benefits, strategy and state of the new print capabilities that are emerging today. This is an exciting time for printing in the US, and other markets, as we color geeks finally have a standard and method that works well with color management which also actually creates many benefits for the press room.

The truth is, there's more to cover on G7 and GRACoL, but it will have to wait for a future article. If you want to discuss it, feel free to pose questions and offer opinions in the Print & Press forum on Colorforums

Thanks for reading,

Steve Upton CHROMiX


GRACoL: G7 Process: SWOP: IDEAlliance: ISO:

For previous ColorNews articles follow this link: Click here


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Entire Contents of CHROMiX ColorNews (c)2006 CHROMiX, Inc. CHROMiX, ColorThink, ColorNews, ColorSmarts, ColorGear, ColorForums and are trademarks of CHROMiX Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. CHROMiX ColorNews is intended as an informative update to CHROMiX customers and business associates. We are not responsible for errors or omissions. --