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					T    h e     D    i g i T a l         W     o r k s T a T i o n

Digital-transfer color management

Street-Smart Color-Matching Update
by    D av i D g ro s s

About the author: David
Gross is president of Conde                               Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe im-
Systems, a position he has                                possible things.”
held for 15 years. Prior to that                           “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I
he worked for QMS, where                                  was your age, I always did it half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I’ve
he designed and marketed                                  believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
color and monochrome                                                                                    —Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
laser printers. He holds a
BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn
University and has written many articles dealing with
digital-imprinting technology. In addition, Gross has
served on boards of various organizations such as the
Greater Gulf Coast Literacy Council, the Mobile Ballet
                                                          Y     es, some digital decorators would say
                                                                that color matching is impossible.
                                                          And, without doubt, the number-one
                                                                                                        ette, with its limited number of bright/
                                                                                                        vivid colors and excellent grayscale selec-
                                                                                                        tion, makes a nice chart from which your
and St. Vincent de Paul School board. He is married       issue I help them with is color match-        customers may select colors (a shirt’s text
with three children and resides in Mobile, Alabama.       ing. Specifically, how do you deliver the     color, for example). I would strongly rec-
                                                          color that your customer is expecting?        ommend not using the Default CMYK
                                                          Over two years ago, I wrote an article for    palette, as the colors are too few to be of
                                                          Printwear’s sister publication—Sublima-       value.
                                                          tion Almanac—called “Street Smart Color         I prefer the TruMatch palette for exact
                                                          Matching” that explained my method of         color matching; it has over 1,000 colors
                                                          achieving “predictable color.” Since then,    that are fairly well organized. I’ve found
                                                          an increased popularity in sublimation        that lots of color choices are needed for
                                                          decorating and the new wave of DTG            those hard-to-match business cards,
                                                          (direct-to-garment) printers has made the     school colors, and Pantone solid colors.
                                                          need for accurate color even greater. The
                                                          following, therefore, is a refresher course   Building a swatch chart
                                                          on what has proven to me, and many oth-       At the heart of our system is an undocu-
                                                          ers, to be a method of delivering to cus-     mented feature in CorelDraw. This Vi-
                                                          tomers the colors they expect.                sual Basic macro will take any CorelDraw
                                                                                                        color palette and build a printable swatch
                                                          The method                                    chart from it. This method is much bet-
                                                          In simple terms, we print a color palette     ter than printing an existing color chart
                                                          from CorelDraw, then transfer it to a se-     because we are using a real CorelDraw
                                                          lected product. We then use that prod-        palette composed of existing vector col-
                                                          uct’s imprinted color palette as a guide      ors. Here’s how it’s done. . . .
                                                          for matching and selecting colors (instead      1. Select a color palette (I’ll use the De-
                                                          of using the computer’s monitor to match      fault RGB palette in this example): Win-
                                                          and select colors) during the artwork-de-     dow > Color Palettes > Default RGB pal-
                                                          sign and/or editing process.                  ette. This will “dock” the palette on the
                                                            When we need a color, we’re either          right side of your screen.
                                                          looking for a pleasing color or an exact        2. Choose the page size for each swatch
                                                          color match. For pleasing colors, I use the   page: Layout > Page setup. Make your
                                                          “Default RGB” color palette. This pal-        pages as large as your printing equipment
                                                         REPRINTED FROM PrinTwear • July 2007
T h e       D   i g i T a l
W o r      k s T a T i o n

When attempting to match colors, the
author stresses that which default color                                                      In the author’s first project, we start by importing a
palette (RGB versus CMYK) is used                                                             .jpg image into CorelDraw, then tracing it by going to
makes a major difference.                                                                     pull-down menu Bitmaps > Trace Bitmap > Logo.

and/or available substrate(s) can handle.       print and transfer the charts, so do not       “eye for color” in your plant; some folks
Suppliers offer a variety of substrates that    skip this step! Click “OK.”                    are better than others at finding a match.
are big enough for large charts. (I like          5. Once generated, save as .cdr files for    Once found, write down the name of the
mine to be about 13˝ X 19˝.)                    future reference and reprinting.               matching swatch, locate that same color
  3. So that this larger page size becomes        6. Print the swatch-chart page(s) and        in the CorelDraw palette, and create/edit
our default size, select Tools > Save Set-      transfer to the desired substrate. (Im-        your graphic using that color.
tings As Default.                               portant note: Make sure your printer is          Okay, let’s do two types of projects. For
  4. Go to pull-down menu Tools > Visual        healthy by doing a nozzle check before         our first project, we will be converting a
Basic > Play. Once the Visual Basic menu        and after printing. The “after” will con-      raster graphic into a vector graphic. Vec-
pops-up, click on the “Macros in” option,       firm that the charts indeed printed cor-       tor graphics are generally preferred, but
select “<All Standard Projects>”, select        rectly.) Note that the name of the color       often unavailable, so here’s a “how to” on
“CorelMacros.CreateColorSwatch,” then           is printed below the swatch. This will be      converting raster to vector. . . .
click “Run.” Once the “Create Color-            our way of making sure we select the right       1. Import a .jpg image into CorelDraw,
Swatch” menu pops up, select your pal-          color back in CorelDraw. I have a set of       then trace it by going to pull-down menu
ette then click on the “Printer” box to in-     color charts transferred onto fabric and       Bitmaps > Trace Bitmap > Logo. This will
clude brief reference notes in the header       various other substrates due to the fact       convert the bitmap image into vector art.
of your chart (printer, printer settings,       that colors will look slightly different on    Experiment with different settings to see
inks, paper, substrate, color management        each.                                          what works best for your image. Some
setting and transfers details); although it                                                    images work great, others will need ad-
looks like you can only type in a small         Putting the charts to work                     ditional work to finish.
amount of information, you have almost          Using your newly made color chart(s),            2. Once the trace is complete, you can
unlimited space. This information will          compare the object you are trying to           change the colors within the graphic. Click
appear at the top left of the charts when       match with the chart’s available colors. It    on the “Colors” tab so that we can substi-
printed. Over time, you will not be able        is important to do this step in excellent      tute the graphic’s existing colors with the
to remember what settings were used to          lighting. Also, find out who has the best      colors picked from the swatch chart.
                                               REPRINTED FROM PrinTwear • July 2007
T h e   D   i g i T a l
W o r   k s T a T i o n

                                        Once the trace is com-
                                        plete, you can change the
                                        colors within the graphic
                                        by clicking on the “Colors”       Click on a color swatch, then click on
                                        tab in order to substitute      “Edit… .” Next, select the appropriate
                                        the graphic’s existing colors   palette and then the color needed. Con-
                                        with the colors picked from     tinue until all colors have been corrected.
                                        the swatch chart.               Click “OK” to return to CorelDraw.
                                                                          For our second project, let’s assume that
                                                                        we already have a vector graphic and need
                                                                        to change the existing colors to those
                                                                        picked from the swatch chart. . . .
                                                                          1. First, build a palette of the current
                                                                        colors by clicking under Window > Color
                                                                        Palette > Create Palette From Selection.
                                                                          2. Save the palette under an appropriate
                                                                        name in the custom palette folder.
                                                                          3. Next, dock that palette by clicking
                                                                        Window > Color Palette > Color Palette
                                                                        Browser. Our new palette will be under
                                                                        the custom palettes.
                                                                          4. We are now ready to remap colors by
                                                                        using Edit > Find and Replace > Replace
                                                                          5. This takes you to the “Replace Wiz-
                                                                        ard” menu. Select “Replace a color” and
                                                                        press “Next>”.
                                                                          6. Choose the color you want to replace
                                                                        by clicking on the color found next to
                                                                        “Find: .” Click “Other… .”
                                                                          7. Select the “Palettes” tab and choose the
                                                                        palette that was created in steps 1 and 2.
                                                                        The menu will then show only those col-
                                                                        ors found in the graphic. Select a color that
                                                                        needs to be changed and press “OK.”
                                                                          8. Choose the replacement color by
                                                                        clicking on the color found next to “Re-
                                                                        place with: .” Click “Other… .”
                                                                          9. Select the “Palettes” tab and choose
                                                                        the palette that was used to create your
                                                                        color charts (I used the RGB palette in
                                                                        our example). The menu will then show
                                                                        those colors found in your color chart. Se-
                                                                        lect the color that was picked as a match
                                                                        and press “OK.”
                                                                          10. This takes you back to the Replace
                                                                        Wizard menu. Click “Finish” to have the
                                                                        old color replaced by the new color.
                                                                          11. Repeat steps 4 through 10 for each
                                                                        color that needs to be changed.
                          REPRINTED FROM PrinTwear • July 2007
T h e   D   i g i T a l
W o r   k s T a T i o n

                                                                 The palette is docked by clicking
                                                                 Window > Color Palette > Color
                                                                 Palette Browser.The new palette
                                                                 will be under the custom palettes.

                          REPRINTED FROM PrinTwear • July 2007
T h e      D   i g i T a l
W o r     k s T a T i o n

 Having selected “Replace a
 color” and pressing “Next>”,
 choose the color you want
 to replace, then choose the
 color palette that was created
 earlier. Having selected the
 replacement color, and click-
 ing “OK,” you’ll be back to the
 Replace Wizard menu. Click
 “Finish” and you’re done. Re-
 peat the steps for each color
 needing replacement.

                                                                          So what am I going to embellish? In
                                                                          simple terms, you should have charts on
                                                                          the products you sell. For sublimation, I
                                                                          recommend having transferring swatch
                                                                          charts for each different kind of substrate.
                                                                          I have a set for hardboard, sublimation-
                                                                          ready fabrics (different brands/types call
                                                                          for different charts), mousepads and glass.
                                                                          Many substrates render color the same or
                                                                          close, such as various ceramic products.
                                                                          For direct-to-garment, print your charts
                                                                          on the different colors of garments you
                                                                          actually offer.
                                                                            If you need to match Pantone colors,
                                                                          you must purchase a Pantone solid-colors
                                                                          swatch book. You cannot use your moni-
                                                                          tor to decide what a Pantone color really
                                                                          looks like. Contrary to popular opinion,
                                                                          choosing this palette in CorelDraw is not
                                                                          a good idea, as the colors will not provide
                                                                          a close enough match.
                                                                            So, next time your business threatens to
                                                                          take you down a rabbit hole, understand
                                                                          that color matching for digital embellish-
                                                                          ments, while often an adventure, is by no
                                                                          means impossible.                         PW

                                   REPRINTED FROM PrinTwear • July 2007

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