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CHROMiX ColorNews Issue #59 - How Many Patches?

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  CHROMiX ColorNews
   Issue # 59 - Dec 22nd, 2015: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This Month's Contents

  1. CHROMiX News
  2. Latest blog entries in ColoRants (and Raves)
  3. Shows and Events
  4. Color Industry News
  5. Forum Topics, Random Bits, etc.
  6. Article - How Many Patches
  7. CHROMiX Open Box items for sale
  8. ColorNews Admin (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)

For the very freshest color updates, check out our new blog Colorants (and raves).

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CHROMiX News What the heck have we been up to?

Fall 2015 Tradeshow recap for CHROMiX

It has been a busy Fall for CHROMiX, made especially busier with a few trade show appearances. Here's a quick recap:

Graph Expo Expo and Conference - Chicago, September 13-16. Steve Upton was solo on this one and had the luxury of walking the show floor and meeting with key partners and customers. Next years GraphExpo will be in Florida apparently. Printers will be exploring the color of tan.

FTA Flexo Conference - Columbus, November 2-3. Steve presented a well received session titled 'Methods of Characterization'. The FTA put together a great series of presentations that followed all the steps of FIRST and spanned an entire day. Next years FTA Conference will be in Nashville ya'll.

SGIA Expo and Conference - Atlanta, November 4-6. Steve and Rick met with many key partners and customers over the course of 3 days. Steve presented a session titled 'Measuring difficult substrates for G7 and beyond' at the G7 Summit hosted by IDEAlliance (also at the Georgia Congress Convention Center). Next years SGIA is back in Las Vegas again.

PIA Color Conference - Phoenix, December 5-8. For this small color management- focused conference, CHROMiX had a larger than normal footprint. This is our favorite conference as it gives us a chance to meet many of our customers, partners and comrades with an almost Christmas party undertone. We had a vendor table manned by Rick highlighting special deals for Eizo, Barbieri and of course Curve3, Maxwell and ColorThink Pro. Plus Steve and Pat had 5 seminar sessions between them. One notable session was a sneak peak at 'What's beyond Curve3?' presented by Steve. Those who attended caught a glimpse of a few things we are excited about. For us, it was great seeing everyone. If you missed the event, give us a a call and we can share what we know, or remember.

Maxwell nears 180 million measurements

All thanks to our great Maxwell customers. Thank you!

CHROMiX encourages most customers to upgrade to v5 Client. Support for versions before v5 will diminish over time.
Many customers have upgraded to Maxwell Client v5. Most to take advantage of MeasureWatch Control, which utilizes the ISO-13655 M-Series of measurement filtration and gathers 15 other measurement parameters. Others have upgraded to use the Barbieri SpectroPad for wireless and seamless measurements anywhere there is a wifi network and a Maxwell Client workstation. Yet others have upgraded to benefit from the faster speeds. Whatever the reason, CHROMiX is here to help make your migration to v5 easy and painless. Just give us a call. Talk with a Maxwell specialist, at: (206) 985-6837 extension #1.

Curve3 gets EFI's strongest endorsement

Curve3 recently made it into EFI's official Knowledge Base (their online help resource) with a procedure for G7 calibrations for the Fiery proServer and Fiery XF systems. The procedure is a straight-forward How-To guide with step-by-step instructions and many good screen illustrations. CHROMiX and HutchColor both worked with EFI to make this happen. EFI's Knowledge Base link:
Using Curve3 for G7 for EFI Fiery proServer and XF

CHROMiX Official developer for FD-9

CHROMiX is excited to be an official developer for Konica Minolta's new blindingly fast FD-9 sheet-fed spectrophotometer. With SDK in hand, we have already begun developing for compatibility with Maxwell (and possibly also with our other software products eventually). Imagine the achievable productivity by using the FD-9 with Maxwell!


CHROMiX Blog Here are some of the recent posts to our blog: Colorants (and raves)

Shows and Events Color-relevant gatherings to plan for

January 19th - 22nd, 2016 - EFI Connect 2016, The Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas, NV.

January 22nd - 24th, 2016 - ISS - Imprinted Sportswear Show, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA.

February 18th - 19th, 2016 - Fogra Colour Management Symposium, Holiday Inn Munich City Centre, Munich, Germany.

February 18th - 20th, 2016 - Graphics of the Americas, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami, FL.

March 8th - 11th, 2016 - FESPA Digital 2016, Amsterdam RAI, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

April 20th - 23rd, 2016 - ISA International Sign Expo 2016, Orange County Convention Center, Orland, FL.

May 31st - June 10th, 2016 - DRUPA 2016, Dusseldorf, Germany.

September 14th - 16th, 2016 - SGIA 2016, Las Vegas, NV.

Events Calendar: For all current and future events, bookmark this calendar.

Color Industry News What's going on in the world of color

Callas releases update pdfToolbox 8.2

v8.2 includes a number of fixes, new features, enhancements, new profiles and other goodies.

ColorLogic releases ZePrA 4.5 with major improvements

With this new version, ColorLogic has enhanced the conversion of PDF data that contain overprinting objects. Performance improvements include faster spot color conversions, greatly improved the spot color conversion quality and additional proofing options. And more. White papers available here. Prices for ZePrA 4.5 remain the same as for ZePrA 4. Contact CHROMiX Sales with further questions or for more information.

NOTE regarding upgrades: All clients that purchased a full version of ZePrA 4 after June 1st, 2015 can upgrade to ZePrA 4.5 free. All customers with a service contract upgrade free to ZePrA 4.5 Customers without a SMA that previously upgraded to ZePrA 4, will need to upgrade again to get access to 4.5. Previous ZePrA 4 customers will be required to purchase an upgrade with the exceptions of valid grace periods and qualified SMAs (Software Maintenance Agreement).

ColorLogic releases ColorAnt 3.1 update

Version 3.1 includes over 50 new features and bug fixes and is free for all ColorAnt 3 users.

For more information about the new ColorAnt 3.1 update click here

Konica Minolta announces the FD-9, the fastest sheet-fed spectrophotometer

As mentioned above in CHROMiX News, CHROMiX is an official developer for the FD-9. List price is expected at $5650.00 US. Limited units should ship in January. Check out the new FD-9!.

X-Rite releases new ColorChecker Video Targets

Targeted to directors, cinematographers, editors and colorists to help improve color for video. For more information

X-Rite increases prices January 1st 2016

Most X-Rite products are affected and the increases range from 1% to 7.5% depending on product. So, if you're thinking of buying an X-Rite product in 2016, budget for slightly higher prices. However, if you can make your X-Rite purchase before end of 2015 you'll likely save a few $.

Forum Topics and other bits  Popular topics from and other things we've found along the way.

RGB Workflow from Photoshop to Final PDF   Too many people convert to CMYK too early. In some special cases it can't be avoided, but David Blatner argues why late binding RGB (keeping RGB intact before converting images and/or files to CMYK) is most often best. He illustrates a step-by-step RGB to PDF workflow with Photoshop and InDesign that anyone can follow, even if your printer demands a CMYK PDF. A must read.

This is just different:   This article came out in August. Not sure there is any market for this, but at least creatives at KFC thought it worth a try. A novelty. Maybe a collector item someday?

The Secret Science of CMYK :   This is a LinkedIn Pulse article from our color comrade Angus Pady. It's very readable and relevant to comments we've heard from customers recently.

Human eye gamut.icc profile   We couldn't resist drawing attention to this color jokester, especially when it highlights our ColorThink software.

Accessing Expert Mode Screen Color Calibrator in OS X El Capitan   It's still there, just hidden. And if you weren't familiar with this utility, you might want to be.

4K and 5K iMacs Support 10-Bit Color Depth on OS X El Capitan   The new iMacs provide 10-bit color output which enables 1024 gradations per color channel, a significant increase from 256 with 8-bit depth on previous iMacs. The result: smoother color transitions.

How Many Patches from Pat Herold

We frequently deal with color management topics in a large-scale overview kind of way; This time we are narrowing in on a specific topic that most of you will run into from time to time.

How many color patches should I use in my profiling target, control strip or heat map? Like most topics in color management, the answer is "it depends". This article explores the different factors that can influence how many patches or colors you would choose to use when designing a target.

What kind of printer?

A modern inkjet printer is very stable and on most media has a predictably smooth response to color to different levels of ink throughout the color range. If you are printing through a print driver, the ink linearization has already been set down by the manufacturer. This kind of printer needs only a relatively small number of patches to adequately capture the behavior of the printer, say 1000 patches or so.

A printing press is on the other end of the spectrum, with color varying throughout the press run and across the sheet. There you would want a large number of patches and to take several samples of the press sheet throughout the run, averaging the measurements to ensure you have a good representation of the entire run.

Somewhere in the middle will be your digital presses, silver halide processes and the like. Know the shortcomings of your particular printing process and determine your patch count accordingly. 2000 patches is the approximate number to shoot for in this category.

Looking for a specific patch set?

Your profiling software will provide you with built-in or preferred targets appropriate for that software. In addition, in the printing industry there are certain collections of patches that are already well known and used. For CMYK profiling, the IT8/7-4 target has 1617 patches and is widely used as a profiling target for presses and proofers. Ironically, this popular patch set has only one neutral patch. The G7 calibration method requires a "P2P" target of 300 patches which greatly samples the neutral and near-neutral areas.

At CHROMiX we have developed several targets that combine these two into a single target called a "OneRun" target. These were originally intended for use with our Curve software, but can also be used in a variety of situations. Duplicate patches are eliminated so the patch count is minimal, and the target samples important areas of the gamut nicely.

Smoothness vs. Accuracy

As we have noted in earlier newsletters, more is not necessarily better.

It's always best to get data points around any portions of the color gamut that your printer has trouble with, or where inks are transitioning from one to another, and reacting in a sudden, different way. More patches are needed to capture this "non-linear" behavior. But having a huge number of patches (4000+) can make your transitions less smooth as the profile has to be true to every data point that was measured.

A smaller set of patches means that the profiling software will mathematically estimate the "in-between" areas and provide a smoother profile. Smoothness ensures that saturated gradients from one color to another are natural and even - not pixelated or showing obvious blocks of color.

A balance between smoothness and accuracy is needed and the number of patches used is a large contributor to the smoothness of a profile.

How important are neutrals?

Profiling software is so advanced these days that you can get excellent results using the default settings in many cases. However, if accurate neutrals are particularly vital, you can choose a patch count that intentionally over-samples the neutrals. X-Rite's i1Profiler software uses near neutral patches to "pad" the extra patches from one layout of patches to the next largest set. If you are shooting for a patch count around 1200 patches for an RGB target, for example, and you want the most neutrals, then choose 1215 to get 3 columns of near neutrals. A patch count of 1216 will give you none.

CMYK target generation is similar. Check the patch preview illustration while increasing the patch count one at a time. You can see the new patches added to the list, and you can watch when the preview "jumps" to the next largest set.

Note that you can also choose to oversample your favorite corporate colors, or flesh tones, or other key colors, and add them to your patches. ColorThink Pro allows you to sample sections of an image at will and save them as a color list. The color list can be added to the reference colors for the patch list.

i1Profiler has a similar feature for adding image colors when making a monitor profile.


If the target is to be used for profiling, you will want to lean toward a large number of fairly small patches. For this purpose, accuracy is balanced with smoothness.

Some targets are instead going to be used in a quality control setting. These are smaller targets that you run regularly through your proofer or digital press as a control strip or a heat map. These targets will monitor daily fluctuations in printing and measurements of these targets will require a high degree of accuracy. Considering the variability and accuracy of your instrument, you will want to design your target to have patches large enough to minimize any noise in the measurements. Pass / fail results from a proofer or a heat map analysis can depend on the smallest fraction of a delta E being within or outside your shop tolerances. So it is important that your instruments and your target design are up to the task.

For example, our testing has shown that significant noise is found in iSis measurements of patches less than 1/2 inch square. A common IDEAlliance control strip had patches that were smaller than recommended by X-rite for their i1Pro device.

How many pages?

A lot of time, the exact number of patches you end up using is dependent on how many pages your target consists of. When your measurement instrument has a limit to how large a page it can measure, you may need to spread your patches across several pages. At this point you're playing a juggling game between number of patches, patch size, page count and all the other factors we have discussed so far. If your last page only has a few patches on it, consider reducing the patch size or enlarging the page margins slightly so that those patches can be reordered to not need the last page.

If you are receiving targets from a separate facility or from someone who - how do I say this gracefully? - um, who's consistency is "suspect" - then you should consider containing all your patches in one sheet. Remote profiling has enough blind spots that can cause your color to go off. When you find yourself tracking down the reason - at least you can rule out possible causes like using different paper for different sheets, or "The ink ran out and we switched ink on the second sheet", or the ever-popular: "We went to lunch between printing the first sheet and the second sheet" and so forth.

The above applies to profiling targets particularly. Control strip targets are by nature small and fit onto a portion of a sheet. Heat map targets generally fill a single page with patches to enable the cross-sheet variation to be calculated.

Once you figure out how many pages to fill, and figure out a nice balance between patch count and patch size, you oftentimes end up with a few spots left to fill. Sure, it's okay to have some extra paper white patches at the end of the target, but why not make use of that space and add some of the key brand colors your favorite customers use? You could also add an extra 300% or 400% patch so you can know where they are if you want to make spot measurements.

Proper target design is a combination of several factors, only one of which is the number of patches used. Putting them all together in a form that does it all is a satisfying little puzzle to solve. And a good target will be of service to your organization for years to come.

Thanks for reading,

Patrick Herold

   To read this article with images in ColorWiki, click here

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Entire Contents of CHROMiX ColorNews (c)2015 CHROMiX, Inc. CHROMiX, Maxwell, ColorThink, ColorNews, ColorSmarts, ColorGear, ColorForums, DisplayWatch 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. You may not copy or reuse any content from this newsletter without written permission from CHROMiX, Inc.