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Drinking from the Fire Hose
and trying not to drown

Date: 2009-05-21 12:58
Subject: Graphics help needed
Security: Public
Music:Nothing but motors and fans
Tags:graphics, work
For the past couple of weeks I've been struggling with getting new business cards printed for the company. I use gimp as my graphics program, which means I get to specify color in RGB (and changing to a different graphics program is not an option). The printer, naturally, specifies its colors in CMYK. The company logo is supposed to be Pantone Blue. According to something I found somewhere on the web, Pantone Blue is 0.96,0,0,0 in CMYK. And according to http://web.forret.com, this translates to 10,255,255 in RGB (or, in hex, OAFFFF).

In an attempt to get the company logo to print in the correct shade of blue, I changed the blue of the logo from whatever it was in the graphics file (which turned into a muddy purple blue when the first set of cards came back from the printer) to OAFFFF.

Being a suspicious sort, I sent email to the printer with the new graphics image attached and asked them to look at it and tell me if it would print in Pantone Blue (or something reasonably close) before I ordered another full set.

I received a reply saying "The OAFFFF color is a bright sea green and when I convert it to CMYK, it is a darker bluish-green color." To my eye, looking at a swatch of Pantone Blue in the Pantone Color Guide, Pantone Blue is not at all green. I know that colors appear differently on different computer hardware, so the fact that the 0AFFFF version of the logo appears to be a very bright turquoise on my monitor does not mean much. But it still disturbs me that my printer rep sees the logo quite differently on her screen and that she tells me that it will print as bluish-green.

Having said all of that, should I go with the OAFFFF version of the logo? Should I change the logo to some other color and if so, what RGB do I use to end up with a logo that will print in a blue that looks like Pantone Blue?
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User: dizzi_d
Date: 2009-05-22 04:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hokay, tharr be good news and bad news.

The good news is that Pantone Blue (assuming you mean standard 072C) has fairly reliable CMYK and RGB gamut recipes:

R28 G63 B128
C100 M88 K5

The bad news?

Generating Pantone equivalent solid colors from an RGB workflow that doesn't support any kind of industry standard color profiling is going to be *complete* voodoo.

I don't know enough about Gimp to be helpful with the specific levers and buttons necessary to make it perform said magic, but unless you can specify exact color proportions in CMYK (which is what the printer is going to use for process color) then you would need a device-specific calibration profile (typically an ICC profile) from your printer to make the necessary RGB to CMYK gamut conversion. If that's not an option, then the only way to get a reliable representation of the blue from them is going to be the "throwing darts" method because every piece of software gets from RGB to CMYK via a conversion table and there are many - so you need control over which one is used.

Literally until the past few years, color management was the bane of most designers' existences. Printing the same job with 5 different printers or on 5 different devices, until very recently, would always give you 5 measurably different results.

I'll happily help you with the file, as with the right tools it's a trivial step - but without them it's a complete pain in the pesqueeter.
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User: mrs_sweetpeach
Date: 2009-05-25 03:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you, but I think I came up with a solution we can live with -- it turns out that the boss is about as picky as I am, meaning any blue within a certain range is fine with him. And I think I've figured out how to get it -- I sent a trio of test files to Costco's photo center for printing and they turned out the way I thought they would. The (intentionally) bad logo is still purple blue, the turquoise one is still turquoise, and the one I was betting would be blue is the right shade.
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