Chapter 4. Colour Management in the Graphic Technologies

4.12 Summary

Alan Martin

In essence, colour management is a translation process. The tools and precepts of colour science give us the lexicon to populate the dictionaries of each of the devices we use in our graphic technology workflow. Our device’s dictionary is the colour profile we generate with the help of a colour target, an instrument to measure the target and colour management software to process the measurements.

Since the device’s dictionary (colour profile) defines the specific RGB or CMYK values of that device in a device independent colour language, we have a conduit between any two devices. By aligning the device independent values between the two devices, we can translate from the device dependent values of our source to the new RGB or CMYK values at our destination to provide a common colour experience.

With an understanding of how to configure our standard graphic arts applications to effectively use our device’s profiles, we can make successful colour translations happen in our real-world production scenarios. Successful colour translations provide the improved productivity that comes with predictability and confidence in process control.

Questions to consider after completing this chapter:

  1. What are the three components of the colour event?
  2. How does visible light relate to the electromagnetic spectrum?
  3. How does the zone theory of optical systems resolve the apparent incompatibility of trichromacy and opponency?
  4. What is the importance of the Lab colour space?
  5. Define Delta E.
  6. Which of RGB, CMYK, and Lab are device dependent colour spaces, and which are device independent colour spaces?
  7. How does a spectrophotometer work?
  8. What is the purpose of a colour target?
  9. What Mac OS utility can be used to view colour profiles?
  10. How does a measurement file relate to an ICC profile?
  11. What is the vcgt tag in a display profile?
  12. Name the common characteristics of output, display, and input profiles.
  13. What characteristics are unique to each of output, display, and input profiles?
  14. Working Spaces serve what purpose in Adobe’s Color Setup dialog?
  15. Which Acrobat tool allows for the merging of spot colours?
  16. How do we make a device link profile?
  17. Where is a device link profile used in Prinergy’s output process template?


Fraser, B., Murphy, C., & Bunting, F. (2004). Real world color management (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Suggested Readings

Fraser, B., Murphy, C., & Bunting, F. (2004). Real world color management (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Sharma, A. (2003). Understanding color management (1st ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Course Technology.


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Graphic Design and Print Production Fundamentals Copyright © 2015 by Alan Martin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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