Jun 092011

How to update a Cyclone Colour Profile:

  • Through the “Postscript File Downloader” load the 2 calibration strips “plotter 31 dark ink & plotter 31 light ink”
  • Wait 30mins for dry-back.
  • Scan in the “Dark ink” strips using the Cyclone Automatic Linearization System with the spectrophotometer.
  • Compare visually where the darkest light-cyan & light-magenta patches on the “Light Ink” strips match the density of the “Dark Ink strips” and note the number of that patch. Use the following conversion chart to find the correct setting for the Light-cyan & Light-Magenta crossover points.

Continue reading »

Apr 182011

I see and get asked very regularly why sometimes in digital printing you get a different colored box around drop shadows, transparencies and sometimes masks.

The reason is because sometimes the printer rip software allows a different “rendering intent” to be selected for images (bitmap) to vector (spot colours) and quite often the rip software will even default these to be different settings for the 2 things.

Continue reading »

Mar 222011
Hi Mike,
I am doing some work with REDACTED and we are having a discussion about what colour space is best used for Artwork that will be best suited for his machines.
For as long as I have had to do any print work I have used the CMYK colour space and RGB for anything to do with screen.
Any info to help clarify this would be great and more specifically about that printer of his.


Mar 182011

Published in Image Magazine (Australia)
Dec 08 / Jan 09

When looking for a new wide format printer for your business you will typically hear the same response from most vendors “oh you need a solvent printer”. The reality is that this is not the full story, Solvent is not simply a newer or better technology as is often assumed these days and in fact there is far more amazing technology available in other places these days.
So the questions remains why does everyone assume solvent is the only answer these days? Let me clarify the differences between available ink & printer technologies for you.

Continue reading »

Mar 182011

Published in Image Magazine
Publish Date TBA

The Dye sublimation industry has become a very strong market. For those of you that may not be aware of it the process involves printing with an inkjet printer (small or wide format), with special water based inks onto a transfer paper. This transfer paper is then put on top of a polyester product such as fabric and with the combination of heat, time, and pressure the ink is turned into a gas that transfers internally to the fabric fibres rather than on the surface where it could be damaged as in other technology. This process means that the print can be used in the same way as other fabrics; it can be used as clothes or banners that can be ironed or washed just like any other.

Continue reading »

Mar 182011

Written for Image Magazine

UV Curable printers have some distinct requirements when it comes to colour calibration because of the unique nature of some of the substrates that customers want to print directly to. Glass, rear illuminated acrylic, steel, aluminium, pre-treated boards and metal, and yet the customer expects colour accuracy on these materials.
When some of these materials are expensive or only available in limited quantities then the ability to quickly achieve the accurate desirable colour with the smallest wastage of time and materials is critical. Most people are aware that your solvent printer needs a profile for your vinyl; a UV curable printer has exactly the same colour requirements.
Continue reading »

Mar 182011

All printers will vary in colour and output between individual devices, even when they are identical printers, inks and substrates.

In cielab’s testing across identical Roland printers we have been surprised at just how substantial the colour difference is. Our testing was comprehensive and included 4x SJ740 printers and 2x SJ-745 printers, all with identical inks and print media, but with printheads of varying ages. We found that in most cases spectral calibration with external equipment did bring this into line, but it does show that generic ICC profile and media settings provided by vendors (not generated in your office with your printer and then calibrated into the other printers) will only get you so far. This is better than nothing however it’s unlikely that you will see consistent results unless you calibrate each individual printer onsite with high quality external measurement spectral equipment.

Continue reading »

Mar 182011

Q) I have to match an existing sign vinyl or colour swatch, and don’t know what colour to print. What can we do?

A) cielab offer a service where we can measure a patch of what you’re trying to match (similar to a paint shop) and tell you the best colour values to use (Results require that you have calibrated and profiled your system to get the colour up front). We can measure absolutely anything as long as we have access to it for measurement, including fabrics, metal, plastics, paint and anything else you can think of.

Mar 182011

Q) This all sounds very complicated, how can we learn more about colour in our environment?

A) cielab have a comprehensive free database of useful information on this web site in the learn section in the menu above. But also run customised training that can be done in-store with you and your staff to give you the maximum benefit from the training possible to suit almost any budget.

Mar 182011

Q) Can’t I download a free profile from the internet and achieve the same thing?

A) Profiles are incredibly specific and will only work accurately for that 1 precise combination. So if you can find the exact profile for the media/ink/printer/rip/resolution combination you are using, then that will definitely improve your results.

But what many people overlook is the calibration stage that comes before a profile. Every different printer is slightly different, and to overcome this for best results you should re-calibrate each printer. This can only be done with measurement equipment on your exact printer.

Alternatively HP Designjet printers contain an embedded spectrophotometer and in some workflows will do a “closed loop calibration” where the printer itself will maintain its own internal colour stability. HP call this “Dream Color”

Cielab offer a membership solution called “ColourCLUB” where our customers are given member only access to cielab managed colour profiles to be used in conjunction with HP Designjet printers using Dream Color technology. For more information about this service contact your Cielab representative or call 1300 243 522 (within Australia)

Mar 182011

Q) I’ve never had trouble with my results before using the default setting that came with my system, so why should I have a custom setup built for me.

A) While you may feel everything is going fine, it’s a fast paced marketplace that is not what it used to be. There is a lot more competition for the same work now, and the customer’s expectations are increasing – especially when it comes to producing accurate and colourful results. Custom calibrated systems produce more consistent results that will keep your customers happy. Don’t wait until you loose your customer to find out you have a colour problem.

Mar 182011

Q) The print quality that comes out of my printer is very poor and I’m thinking about buying a new printer to resolve this. Is this the right thing to do?

A) Sometimes the answer to that is yes, but often bad print quality is because of a poorly set up and calibrated system. Things like bleeding, dull print colours, even media failing in some cases are actually profile related. If you are unsure, you should contact cielab before making an expensive purchase that may not actually be necessary, and may not actually solve your problem.

Mar 182011

Q) How can I tell what spot colours I can produce?

A) If you have a custom ICC profile for your printer, then you can load the profile into Adobe Photoshop and there is an “out of gamut” view that will show you anything in the file that you will not be able to print. Cielab can set this up for you. Another useful tool is the Pantone Bridge book. Previously called “Solid to Process”, this book shows both the true pantone colour, and what is expected from most CMYK printers (you may be able to do more or less than this book shows, but it’s a great way to show your customers what is the expected result if they don’t understand Pantone.

Mar 182011

Q) I’m trying to print a spot/pantone colour for my customer but I just can’t get the printer to print it accurately. What can I do?

A) Have you calibrated and profiled your printer to the media you are printing onto? If not, you are unlikely to be able to accurately print spot colours without a lot of labour to modify the setup or file. If you have calibrated, perhaps the spot colour is “out of gamut” meaning that your media/printer/ink combination is simply not capable of producing that colour.

Mar 182011
  • When mounting or applying an adhesive print to a board through a laminator with the feature, always fold the front edge of the backing paper back onto itself exposing enough adhesive to apply the print to the front edge of the board (being careful to make sure you line it up and apply it straight). You then place this edge into the rollers of the laminator and slowly start the laminator moving while pulling the backing off as it goes through. If you lined it up correctly it will continue through the laminator straight with the bard. When you master this it will always give a much better mount than trying to do this by hand or any other way.
  • It’s always worth the additional investment if you can afford the upgrade to a larger roller diameter, is also an important consideration in the purchase of a laminator, larger rollers allow for more pressure and offer a better finish reducing silvering. Silvering is also reduced by using a low heat (30-40°c) to help the adhesive.
  • More tips coming soon

    Mar 182011
    • Many people run gloss laminate on one side of their laminator and matt on the other. This means that if a customer requests gloss or matt, they simply face the viewing surface towards the requested finish on the laminator eliminating the need to change back and forwards form gloss to matt all of the time
    • When hot laminating inkjet photo prints, you should use a “Low-Melt” type film. Being water based inks, if the print isn’t 100% dry when hot laminating with normal film (over 100°c), the remaining water is evaporated out as the laminate is applied and the laminate often doesn’t stick well to the photo paper. This Low-Melt film will require less heat (less than 100°c) and reduces the chances of this problem.
    • Getting the tension set right on these laminators is very important to eliminate waves appearing through the finished product. This should be set by a qualified and experienced technician for best results. Waves don’t always mean your tension is incorrect, after time your rollers may deform and need to be replaced.
    • Hot-roller type laminators will always do a superior finish to the hot-shoe type. It’s always worth the additional investment if you can afford the upgrade. Roller diameter is also an important consideration in the purchase of a laminator, larger rollers allow for more pressure and offer a better finish.
    • More tips coming soon


    Mar 182011

    • ALL solvent printers are toxic in some way and can be be harmful after prolonged exposure to the vapours (VOC’s) time and time again. To quote one common solvent ink “Proven to cause permanent brain damage”. You should always take safety precautions around these machines by wearing the correct breathing apparatus and using air filtration devices. Continue reading »
    Mar 182011

    • When you load the paper into the machine, you should form feed & cut off the front edge of the media is the roll has been left exposed to the open air or handled to eliminate incorrect print from this area.
    • Media for these printers has a special coating and you should try to avoid touching the coated side of the media with your bare hands. Continue reading »
    Mar 182011

    While colour may not be your primary concern, with correct calibration and profiles the printer results overall will improve and the investment at this stage will repay itself very quickly by eliminating wasted labour and consumables trying to please a customer that’s unhappy with the results produced. It also gives you piece of mind, and faith in the results that come from your printer. Most people that have invested in a solution like this comment quickly that they are pleasantly surprised by the improvement in their results.

    Rips all offer varied features and benefits, all of them with pros and cons. It comes down very much to your requirements and investigation into each rip. Often just because a printer is offered with a rip, the rip may not be the best selection for your needs. It’s well worth not only looking at each dealers printers, but also rips. Many people don’t realise they can often mix and match the two depending on their needs.

    Many rips have features like Nesting, queuing, step and repeat, scaling, cropping, spot colour replacement etc. You should consider how your needs match the rip you are viewing, and also the companies ability to support you with custom calibration and profiling should you require – not all rips handle this well, or in some cases – at all. A bad choice can cost you dearly later.

    Compare rip options from cielab colourshop, we have many rip brands and options to compare
    even read or add reviews for rips


    Mar 182011

    Calibration (also known as Linearization) will standardise the result of a printer and also make it repeatable. Every printer, ink, and media each need to be independently calibrated to remain accurate.

    If you use 3 of exactly the same printer in your office, with exactly the same ink, media & profile – without calibration you are likely to see 3 different results, whereas 3 calibrated printers in this same situation will match each other. This calibration will also allow re-calibration if there are any variances – this is what I mean by a repeatable state.

    Climate also affects paper and printers drastically and with the climate changes between winter and summer as an example, the colour being produced will also change. Recalibration will bring the printer back to the state that it was originally calibrated to. Without this, a profile with no calibration or recalibration must be redone from scratch if there is any variance, causing valuable labour and consumables being wasted time and time again.


    Mar 182011

    The primary reason for purchasing and using a rip is to allow the absolute control of the colour output of the printer (this can not be done the same by using print drivers through the operating system). A rip will communicate directly (usually by network, USB or Firewire) with the printer in it’s native language, bypassing the operating systems drivers. OS drivers do not allow for the selection of both CMYK and RGB input profiles, this means that results may not be very accurate depending on your requirements. They also don’t have the feature that most rips offer of calibration the printer.

    A printer usually has very little knowledge and would best be described inside as “dumb”. By this I mean that it knows only drop of ink, or no drop of ink. The rest is left up to where you process the file – without a rip this must be done by the operating system. As an example, Microsoft Windows makes some assumptions that cannot be controlled. Windows assumes that all digital files are intended only for viewing onscreen or over the internet (all RGB output, unlike print). This means that if you submit a CMYK file through a windows print driver, it will always firstly convert that file to RGB so that it can be processed, and then be converted to CMYK data for the printer to produce. This adds 2 conversion that will change the colour of your file and affect the output results.

    Windows also makes the assumption that any files being created are likely to be office presentations or internet images, and uses “Saturation” rendering intent. This will shift almost all colour leaving little chance of achieving accurate spot colour reproduction.


    Mar 182011

    There are a few ways that you can control the output colour on a device.

    Rip software is the best way to do this on a digital printer. Most wide format printers these days are sold with the option to buy rip software, although commonly due to lack of knowledge by the salesperson, is not explained properly to the buyer what benefit it offers and subsequently commonly not opted for at the low end of the market (up to $15,000 printer investment) due to the added expense (average purchase price for a reputable rip is about $5000).

    What many don’t realise that it’s the rip that’s the difference between a good result most of the time, and an amazing result every time.

    Mar 182011

    The story doesn’t end with a colour profile, some profiles have a larger colour gamut than other profiles, so what happens to colour that can not be produced? This is where something called a “Rendering Intent” comes into action. It the way that colour is mapped between profiles. You may note that in my example above that i have selected “Relative Colorimetric” intent under conversion options. There are 4 primary rendering intents as follows:

    Continue reading »

    Mar 182011

    A printer media profile controls other things like ink limiting, gray balance, linearity of colour and more:

    Because the profile was specifically produced for the exact printer/ink/media combination you have loaded, it will use the precise amount required to produce colour (saving on ink consumption) but can also eliminate bleedingcocklingpooling, and flooding.

    It also knows how to lay down the exact CMY mix to produce a neutral gray without the use of any black ink at all if you choose. Many people have experienced printed gray results that have a coloured cast throughout. Some printer manufacturers add additional light black or gray inks to their printers to overcome this, although this is completely unnecessary in a calibrated and profile state and often adds to the running costs of the printer.

    Another thing that is improved by using the correct profile is better linearity, or colour distribution. When using generic profiles, people often see “Posterisation“. This is a visible line that appears between graduations of colour.


    Mar 182011

    Profiles are a part of the method for conversion between varying colour spaces.

    For example, while viewing a CMYK file on a monitor (an RGB device), there is no direct link between RGB and CMYK colours. There needs to be a translation in the middle that allows this to happen (cielab) plus a description of how these colours should look. Different RGB devices will produce colour differently to each other, and be different to other RGB devices like scanners or digital cameras. Likewise, CMYK will produce colour differently on different devices and media. Each specific output requires a description of how to accurately produce the colour in a digital file.

    There are always 2 profiles in any conversion (with the exception of files created in cielab). There is an “Input or Reference” profile that describes what the file should look like, and an “Output or Media” profile that explains how to achieve that result. In between these two profiles is cielab to allow this conversion to happen.

    Continue reading »

    Mar 182011

    Colour management is the calibration and profiling of each device that digitally produces colour in a file workflow so that produced results are consistent from file capture, design, view, and print or output. Without this results can be somewhat random.

    Sometimes peoples whole focus when attempting to control colour workflow can be on “Profiles“, they are just a very small part of the equation. Every device and media or ink needs it’s own unique profile to be accurate.


    Mar 182011

    Most offset printers are very accustomed to working with colour values to achieve a result on their press and make the assumption that you can work in the same way with a digital device. I have seen this many times, and have great respect to the printers that understand colour that well, although unfortunately the ink & print technology in ALL digital printers does not react the same as a press with film or plates will.

    Continue reading »

    Mar 182011

    Colour is also affected buy your surroundings (colour of walls / light quality etc.). This can often have a massive impact on the colour people see. The most common example I find regularly is some B/W prints appear to have a colour cast through the printed result – simply take the print into outdoor natural light and this often changes the appearance dramatically.

    A great way to see examples onscreen of this is at Dale Purve’s web site on colour (in our links page).

    The best solution to this in your environment is to get a light viewing booth. These booths are calibrated to have the exact value of light at the viewing surface. This can not be easily done by simply changing your fluorescent light bulbs to daylight bulbs and painting your room a light neutral grey (although these is better than nothing).

    Compare light viewing booths at cielab colourshop


    Mar 182011


    Scanners and Monitors use an emitted light, and so images are produced using red, green & blue coloured lights (or “guns”).

    When printing we are usually coating a white surface with colour. This means that we use cyan, magenta, yellow & black inks or toners to reflect colour.

    To match what you see on your monitor accurately on your printer, both devices need to be carefully calibrated and profiled. If you do this you have the best chance of this situation.

    Continue reading »

    Mar 182011

    Because a colour you are trying to compare in the middle of a print is being visually tainted by what surrounds it, it’s a good idea to cut a black card with 2 holes of equal size and shape that are the right size to show only the colour you are comparing. Place the colour in the print that you are trying to match under one hole, and your reference (e.g. pantone swatch) under the other hole. Here is an example of what to create:

    This eliminates many of the pitfalls of colour comparison and it’s something I highly recommend trying at some stage. If you are unsure why you need this then I suggest you look at the Dale Purves web site in our links page. This site gives clear and obvious examples of what you can experience on a print.

    I am looking at producing these if there is enough call for it. Please register your interest with me.


    Mar 182011

    The human eye has red, green, and blue cones in the retina. Unfortunately you can’t calibrate and profile your eyes, so you should remember that everyone sees colour from a different perspective and you might not actually be seeing the same thing.

    An only colour specialist joke that was bandied around at one stage is:

    What is the colour of Cyan?

    It’s not that funny, but a little ironic I guess. From a technical perspective we all see cyan as a different colour and this will depend on our individual eyes and also what we have learnt as that colour as a child.


    Mar 182011
    Additive colour (e.g. Monitors – RGB)
    Additive colour works by mixing light sources. 

    The primary additive colours used are Red, Green & Blue and are measured on a scale of 0 to 255 (0 being no light and 255 being full intensity).

    If you combine 255 of all Red, Green & Blue then we see White. If all 3 are at 0 then we see black.

    Subtractive Colour (e.g. Print – CMY)
    Subtractive colour is based on light being absorbed by a surface, and the light that isn’t absorbed is reflected as a colour. 

    The Primary colours we use are Cyan, Yellow & Magenta. If you coat a white surface equally with 100% of Cyan, Yellow & Magenta then we see black and where there is no colour we see white.

    In printing we also add Black to achieve better grey shading than what can be achieved with CMY alone. Black also allows us to make a darker colour than we can produce with just CMY.


    Mar 182011

    cielab is industry terminology for a way to describe colour.

    Pronounced: “See-Lab”.

    cielab is a 3D XYZ axis that scientifically describes how the average human eye sees colour proposed by the CIE (Commission Internationale de I’Éclairage). L, A & B are the three axis that place the colour in this 3D space. Any colour conversion needs a universal middle way to convert the colour. As an example, if viewing a CMYK file on an RGB monitor you are actually using 2 ICC profiles even if you don’t realise it or aren’t controlling it. But CMYK has absolutely no relationship to RGB, so these 2 ICC profiles (RGB & CMYK) go into cielab as a way to calculate this conversion.

    Example of how the conversion works:

    CMYK -> lab -> RGB
    File Being Edited Output on Monitor