Colour automation tools: more under the hood


CMYK Optimizer – more under the hood

The automated colour tool CMYK Optimizer performs simple, yet accurate colour transformation tasks using Alwan Dynamic Device links. With the ability to reduce Total Area Coverage (TAC) by performing Grey Component Replacement (GCR), the following beneficial side effects occur: ink savings, dollar savings, improved grey balance, faster make-ready time and easier proof matching. This product comes with Alwan ColorHub, which handles the input, output and error reporting. The ColorHub can also perform ICC Profile Processor tasks to convert profiles within PDF files. The ICC Profile Processor is another module in Alwan’s set of colour tools.

The return on investment for the CMYK Optimizer is based on the main tasks of creating optimized CMYK colour separations. Upon investigation there are many more interesting functions, including tools to help with soft proofing using Acrobat as well as options that can help inkjet, digital and online workflows.

If you are using Acrobat to soft proof PDF files, CMYK Optimizer can improve this workflow for you. When a PDF contains multiple embedded profiles inside your customer’s document, Acrobat will colour manage them for you on screen. This may not be the way the RIP will convert each image; the RIP will use its system to convert from each embedded profile to the output profile.

Instead of allowing multiple ICC profiles to be managed and then reconverted by your RIPs, bring them all to the space you use for your press before the soft proof. Optimizer can convert from the embedded profiles to one standard colour space allowing the soft proof to display the images without additional colour management on individual images.

Soft proofing colour, plus the addition of transparency to the mix causes another issue. Transparency flattening when performed by the RIP can cause colour shifts when multiple colour spaces and overprints are involved. CMYK Optimizer has built-in transparency controls. It takes into account sensitive overprints, gives a choice to handle complex transparencies only or to completely flatten. With these options, soft proofs can be flattened and correctly optimized to one colour space for printing before approval of a soft proof.

This soft proofing benefit alone is enough reason to take a look at CMYK Optimizer. The ColorHub provides FTP in and FTP out to provide complete control to single customers or for an entire product line for do-it-yourself soft proofing. Hot folders are created automatically and error reports are generated as well. The Optimizer at the front of the workflow makes this a powerful preflight tool to manage colour and flattening.

The special colours feature deals with vector items, like lines and type. Text that is RGB black (0,0,0) can be changed to 100 K throughout the PDF with a special colours setting. You can even set a range of three to get multiple shades of RGB black. For some workflows, converting a device N greyscale solid to 100 K will solve an issue as well. This special colors option can also be used for Rich Black mapping, changing flat tint values or fixing screened text.

A sharpening feature is built in and can be customized. It has a radius and amount setting and gives you a preview image to see the results before setting. Another option available is for spot colours. This allows you to map spot colours inside vector art to match specified values; you can also import existing spot colour values. Colour in vector art can be colour managed like the images in the file or left alone; the setting defaults to colour managing like in the case of bitmaps. It can also be viewed online here.