Six degrees of separation A look at the hexachromeâ„¢

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					                   Six degrees of separation:
                        A look at the hexachrome™
                   high fidelity color reproduction system

                                     by Scott Fry for Professor Dan Wilson


   A broadening of the gamut of         46). A hi-fi color reproduction      Q&A, 1998, p. 1–4). The addi-
reproducible process colors             system dates back to 1972, when      tion of these two colors to the
would be welcomed by the print-         it was devised by Harald Küpper.     reproduction process allows
ing industry. The quest for better      His theory was to increase the       Hexachrome to exceed the RGB
process inks have been a step in        printable gamut by using cleaner     spectrum in all but the green area
the right direction but still has       ink pigments and adding orange,      of the spectrum (see Figure 1.1).
not produced “perfect” inks.            green and violet. This system was    Through this system, offset
With the advent of extra-trinary        researched by German ink man-        printers can now reproduce col-
color separations (more than            ufacturers who developed the         ors beyond the gamut of the
three primary colorants) printers       Küpper colorant set. Other high      monitor and even into the fluo-
have been exploring the possibil-       fidelity systems, like the Davis     rescent and pastel range ( Jeffrey,
ities by which colors gamuts            Hi-Fi Color Project, use CMYK        1995 p. 46). In addition to this,
could be expanded (Lamparter,           +RGV inks to expand the color        Hexachrome can accurately re-
1994, p. 52–3). The Hexa-               gamut (Lamparter, 1994, p. 53).      produce 90% of all PANTONE
chrome™ system from PAN-                A system by DuPont, called           spot colors, compared to the 55%
TONE® has offered one viable            HyperColor, uses only CMYK           of matches available from con-
solution for printers who want to       inks to reproduce an image.          ventional CMYK process (Wil-
expand their color capabilities.        However, HyperColor achieves         son, 1995, p. 31).
This package, consisting of a few       its expanded color gamut by
software plug-ins, plus a calibra-      increasing ink film density.         Installation of Hexachrome
tion program, will allow printers       “Bump plates” are added to
to reproduce a broader color            printing units to print additional      To produce Hexachrome sepa-
space with only minor changes in        layers of ink in one or all four     rations, the minimum desktop
prepress workflow.                      colors (Whitcher, 1998, p. 70).      requirements are a PowerPC or
   The term hi-fi color (short for         PANTONE introduced Hexa-          68040 or better Macintosh,
high fidelity color) was coined by      chrome in 1994. This color           Adobe Photoshop 3.0 or later,
Don Carli as a comparison to            reproduction system takes the        and a page layout application
high fidelity stereo equipment,         basic CMYK inks, reformulates        capable of placing a DCS 2.0
which reproduces sound with lit-        them, and adds green and orange      file. As it currently stands,
tle distortion ( Jeffrey, 1995 p.       inks to the process (Hexachrome      PANTONE only manufactures this


Visual Communications Journal 1999                                                                      Page 49
                                        The hard drive contains the         ity would be lost due to gamut
                                     HexWrench folder, which con-           clipping (Hexachrome Q&A,
                                     sists of a PDF manual and the          1996, p. 4). Changing the color
                                     third piece of the puzzle: Hex-        space of an image from RGB to
                                     Wrench Tuner. This is the cali-        CMYK can result in a 25%
                                     brator of the system. After print-     reduction in color range (Whit-
                                     ing a control swatch, measure-         cher, 1998, p. 70). No special
                                     ments can be taken from each           alterations are necessary during
Figure 1.1. Hexachrone color         patch with a ColorTron or              the image manipulation process.
gamut                                Spectroline colorimeter to create      Color casts, sharpening, and all
                                     an ICC profile, which Hex-             other image correction tech-
                                     Wrench then uses to create sepa-       niques are unaffected by
system for the Macintosh plat-       rations. The result of this calibra-   Hexachrome (Hexachrome Q&
form (Studion Soft, 1996, p. 2.4).   tion is what HexWrench uses to         A, 1996, p. 4).
   Three main components are         determine dot gain compensa-              Once an RGB image is ready
loaded during the installation of    tion (Studion Soft, 1996, p. 6.2-      to undergo separation, pulling
the PANTONE HexWrench soft-          6.10).                                 down the “filter” menu and going
ware. First loaded is SAME                                                  to “color” will initiate the Hex-
(Studion Appearance Matching         Hexachrome workflow                    Wrench plug-in. Here a control
Environment), a control panel                                               window appears, displaying the
which acts like a color manage-         With these software elements        image and the settings for creat-
ment tool for the purpose of         in place, the Hexachrome work-         ing separations (see Figure 1.2).
compensating color differences       flow can begin. Scanning and           This is where the user may select
between input devices, output        image capture can be performed         wether they want to create an
devices, and monitors (Mac           as usual, but all images must          image screened at 175 lpi, 200
World, 1998, p. 46).                 remain in RGB space. If images         lpi, 14µ or 21µ stochastic. The
   Second loaded is HexWrench,       were to be transformed into            user also selects coated or un-
which consists of two Photoshop      CMYK at any point, their viabil-       coated paper and adjusts the total
plug-ins. These plug-ins are
what allow the six-way separa-
tion to occur. The biggest advan-
tage that these plug-ins offer is
the ability to control the separa-
tion process. Users can select
image segments and alter the
separation settings and then view
the effect via soft proof. Dif-
ferences between coated and
uncoated paper, total ink limit,
screening and even CMYK vs.
Hexachrome can all be proofed
on screen before any separation
takes place (Studion Soft, 1996,
p. 5.1–5.14).                        Figure 1.2. Creating separations with Pantone HexWrench


Page 50                                                                                 Six degrees of separation
ink limit (which PANTONE calls       er controls are available regarding   creating separations in Hex-
the black modifier). Information     the nature by which the images        Wrench. This is the only way
about the origin of the image is     will be separated (Moretta, 1998,     that dot gain compensation can
also specified. HexWrench in-        p. 6-8).                              occur. By reading the test patch-
quires as to the nature of the                                             es with a ColorTron or Sepectro-
original media, reflection or        Proofing concerns                     line colorimeter, the profile will
transmission and which scanner                                             be built and incorporated into
profile captured the image,             Proofing systems are available     the SAME list of profiles
allowing SAME to compensate          for Hexachrome, but mainly in         (Studion Soft, 1996, p. 6.2–
for color variation.                 analog form. Agfa, Dupont, Fuji,      6.10). Profiles are also requested
   After the settings have been      and TransCal are the major sup-       in making separations from
changed to their correct posi-       pliers of proofing materials for      QuarkXPress 4.0 and any other
tions, a set of separations are      the Hexachrome System (Hexa-          Hexachrome compatible soft-
generated by clicking the “sepa-     chrome Q&A, 1998, p.4).               ware that integrates color man-
rate” button. After the separation   Digital proofs can be made to         agement directly into the appli-
process is complete, seven files     simulate Hexachrome output.           cation (Anderson, 1998, p. 12).
will appear on the desktop. Six of   Some digital color output devices
these files are color channels and   have a gamut that is over 50%         Press considerations
one file is a DCS 2.0 that can be    greater than conventional process
placed into almost any page lay-     color work. For example, the             When someone uses the term
out application (Studion Soft,       gamut of the Scitex Iris proofing     “hi-fi color,” the thought of a six-
1996, p. 5.1–5.14).                  system for example, encompasses       color press printing stochastic
   With the release of new appli-    almost all of the Hexachrome          screens comes to mind. With this
cation versions that support         gamut, making it an acceptable        scenario comes some serious
Hexachrome, a less complex           digital proof for hi-fi color         press concerns. While many
workflow is available. While         (Andersson, 1998, p. 21). The         printers assume that stochastic
image capture and manipulation       Epson Stylus Pro 5000 can also        screening is used exclusively for
still follow the same procedures,    be used to create Hexachrome          hi-fi, this is not the case. Hex-
rather than creating separations     proofs. Both of these printers can    achrome repeats two of the
out of Photoshop they are made       give designers an idea of what        screen angles to eliminate a
upon output from a page layout       the printed result will look like.    moiré pattern with conventional
application. With Hexachrome         However they are not considered       screens. Orange is printed at the
supported software, RGB images       a contract grade proof (Whit-         same angle as cyan. Green is
can be placed directly into the      cher, 1998, p. 70).                   printed at the same angle as
application. Once placed, pro-                                             magenta (Whitcher, 1998, p.
grams like QuarkXPress 4.0,          Hexachrome calibration                69).
Adobe PageMaker 6.5, Corel                                                    Another substantial concern
Draw and Macromedia Free-               HexWrench Tuner is a stand-        to experienced lithographers is
hand 7.0 will automatically cre-     alone application that produces       how to control the total ink limit.
ate separations. The advantage of    ICC profiles for presses. The cre-    To print a total possible 600%
this workflow is that the user is    ation of a profile is critical to     ink film would represent a nearly
required to perform fewer steps.     producing good Hexachrome             impossible task with the mark-
However this is also the work-       separations. The profile for the      ing, picking, curling, and drying
flow’s disadvantage because few-     target device is asked for when       difficulties that would occur.


Visual Communications Journal 1999                                                                     Page 51
Unfortunately, this is a weakness       low pigment, but with the addi-       gies, like stochastic screening and
of Hexachrome. The black mod-           tion of fluorescent pigments.         waterless lithography, there is no
ifier in the HexWrench plug-in          This yellow has more than dou-        justification for the modified
is the only place that the total ink    ble the lightfastness of its tradi-   workflow and increased budget-
film can be regulated. Here, only       tional counterpart. Hexachrome        ed hourly rates that six color
three options are possible: from        magenta is based on the rubine        process printing would require
normal (0); thin (-2) and thick         pigment (rather than rodomine),       (p.54). Some experts believe that
(+2) (Studion Soft, 1996, p.            but with the addition of fluores-     for a magazine, a switch to hi-fi
5.10).                                  cent pigments. Cyan is without        color could add an extra 20% to
   One aspect of Hexachrome             fluorescent pigments as it’s puri-    their printing cost (Wilson,
that experienced lithographers          ty was increased by reformula-        1995, p. 31).
will appreciate is it's ease of color   tion, yielding 20% more potency.          Others among the industry
modification on press. For exam-        Green and black are also without      recognize that there has been,
ple, press operators can enrich         fluorescent pigments.                 and always will be, a market for
the greens in a reproduction of a          Despite the relative simplicity    printing of the highest caliber.
lush woodland scene by increas-         that this system offers on the        For example, educational pub-
ing the amount of green ink.            desktop, Hexachrome perhaps           lishers are starting to use hi-fi to
This is significantly easier than       most significantly represents an      create bold textbook covers. A
increasing cyan and yellow. By          advancement in ink formulation        vivid design on the cover a math
only altering one color, operators      (Lustig, 1998, p. 82). The impor-     or reading book attracts the
will not have to be concerned           tance of this innovation in ink is    attention of it’s end users—chil-
with changing an image’s gray           that printers who only choose to      dren and teenagers. Some print
balance ( Jeffrey, 1995 p. 48).         run the reformulated CMYK             customers can actually save
   The standard process color           inks can still benefit from an        money using hi-fi color. For
inks used in conventional color         increased color gamut ( Jeffrey,      example, clients who specify
printing cannot be used in the          1995 p. 47). For a six color press    multiple spot colors can save
Hexachrome process. PANTONE             the suggested run sequence is         money by running hi-fi because
specifies a set of special Hexa-        black, cyan, green, magenta, yel-     of the number of spot colors that
chrome process inks that must be        low and orange (Studion Soft,         it can reproduce. (Whitcher,
used for this process to properly       1998, p. 7.1).                        1998 p. 70). Another economic
achieve the expanded gamut.                                                   advantage of hi-fi color, accord-
According to PANTONE, these             The Hi-Fi debate                      ing to PANTONE, is savings made
inks have been reformulated for                                               in paper buying. Printing can be
more than the purpose of tack              But why bother with hi-fi          done on lower priced, cheaper
control and wet ink trapping.           color? Some among the industry        grades of paper, and, due to hi-
PANTONE research and develop-           believe that Hexachrome and           fi’s vibrant color, can still result in
ment experts experimented to            other hi-fi color systems are just    high production quality (Wilson,
find cleaner process inks.              a gimmick and will never become       1995 p. 31).
Through testing, an optimum             commercially successful (Lam-             For now, hi-fi color is consid-
formulation was found by com-           parter, 1994, p. 53). A commonly      ered by most to be a niche. Mark
bining fluorescent and conven-          held opinion is that modern           Tennant of Anderson Litho, a
tional pigments. For example,           presses are printing better color     Hexachrome beta test site, says
Hexachrome yellow is composed           images at higher resolutions than     “Our clients have the highest
of the traditional Diarylide yel-       ever. Along with new technolo-        demands and are willing to move


Page 52                                                                                     Six degrees of separation
beyond four-color process if it         and print all or most of their          Morretta, Rosemary. (1998).
differentiates their products”          products with hi-fi. Realizing the   Pantone Hexachrome: Process
( Jeffrey, 1995 p. 46). In the final    opportunity to give their cus-       Workflow White Paper [Bro-
analysis according to Mills             tomers a value added service has     chure]. PANTONE Inc., Carlstadt,
Davis, “...it’s like high tech gas at   kept them up to date in an ever      NJ.
the pump: it costs more, but not        changing market.                        PANTONE Inc. (1998). Hexa-
a lot more” (Wilson, 1995 p. 31).                                            chrome Q&A [Brochure]. Carl-
                                        References                           stadt, NJ.
Final thoughts                                                                  Studion Soft. (1996). Users
                                           Andersson, Mattias. (1998).       Manual, PANTONE HexWrench by
   In this age of increasing digital    Pantone Hexachrome: Process          Studion Soft.
technology, print customers are         Workflow White Paper [Bro-              Whitcher, Joann Strashum.
demanding more out of a tradi-          chure]. PANTONE Inc.: Carlstadt,     (1998). Hi-Fi Color Shows New
tional media. Printing must             NJ.                                  Promise. Graphic Arts Monthly,
strive to meet the new expecta-            Jeffery, Noel. (1995). Premium    VOL109 (5), 69-72.
tions of its customers. High            Colors. American Printer, 214           Wilson,    Steve.     (1995).
fidelity printing is a step in this     (2), 46-48.                          Hexachrome Not Yet Palette-
direction. Traditional print cus-          Lamparter,       William     C.   able For Most Magazine
tomers are interested in the cut-       (1994). Hi-Fi Color: Nonsense        Budgets. The Electronic Magazine
ting edge that this new vibrant         or Niche. American Printer, 213      (8), 31.
color can give their products and       (5), 52-4.
images. As this market steadily            Lustig, Theodore. (1998).         About the author
grows and high fidelity print           Closing in on Better Process
becomes more commonplace,               Color Printing. Graphic Arts            Scott Fry is a student in the
printers will be forced to take a       Monthly, VOL111 (7), 82.             Printing & Publishing Tech-
second look at this process.               MacWorld. (1998). Photo-          nology degree program at Penn-
Competitive printers have al-           shop Color Plug-Ins. MacWorld,       sylvania College of Technology.
ready adapted their workflow            (4), 46.




Visual Communications Journal 1999                                                                    Page 53

				
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