Proof cheap. What does that mean?

Proof cheap is a typical search term that people use in search engines to find a cheap, colour and legally binding proof. But what makes a cheap proof?

A proof is one that is produced according to the specifications of the latest revision of the proofing standard ISO 12467-7 and is within the tolerances of this standard. The current revision is ISO 12647-7:2016, which has been tightened even further with this standard and has been supplemented by a certified edition of spot colours such as PANTONE and HKS.

Such certified proofs can be ordered at for all proof profiles.

But what makes the certified proof cheap? That’s the low price. Proofs are printed on certified proof papers on very high-quality pigment inkjet printers, usually using expensive proofing software, and measured with spectrophotometers. So how can production be done cheaply here?

1: Using cheap pigment ink?

One litre of ink for proofing devices is around 400 EUR, so it makes sense to use inexpensive alternative ink from China. The problem: there are no manufacturers – neither in China nor anywhere else – who produce inks that would actually produce similar inks in terms of pigment colour and spectral composition. I once called a manufacturer who advertises that his – already quite expensive – inks could also be used for proofing. When I asked him, he said: “No, no, that’s just for advertising, but of course I would never do that or recommend it, and I don’t know anybody who does that. As for the China inks, he said: “They start at 20 EUR per liter, but you get a different ink with every delivery, depending on where the wholesaler buys. Then they have to re-measure the proofer every time… forget it.” In addition, replacing a clogged print head costs around 2,500 EUR, so the risk is too high. A real proof therefore only works with original, very expensive ink.

2: Using cheap software?

GMG ColorProof, EFI Fiery XF and ORIS Color Tuner are just some of the most important proofing solutions on the market. What they all have in common is that proofing software is rather a niche software, so the programming effort is very high compared to the sales figures. Depending on the size of the output device and the range of functions in terms of verification, spot colour display or proofing on special materials such as transparent foils, etc., the software costs between 5,000 and 10,000 EUR, and in combination with other software products from GMG or Colorlogic it can quickly cost considerably more. Although there are a few low-cost solutions here too, these are usually irrelevant in professional proofing, as they are either not suitable for more than one workstation, or important functions such as spot colour libraries etc. are missing.

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Gamut map: The colour tool for cross-media design

Due to our involvement with freeColour e.V., at the last meeting in Switzerland the desire for a cross-media tool for designers was expressed with which one can create intersections of colourspaces from the freieFarbe CIELAB HLC Colour Atlas XL.

With Gamutmap, Proof GmbH has now created such a tool, which is available to all designers free of charge. With Gamutmap nearly 100 individual colour spaces can be indicated from 34.250 colours of the entire CIELAB colour space, or intersections from many combined colour spaces can be indicated.

An example: As a designer you are looking for colours for a new corporate design, which are available in sRGB for the internet, in ISOCoatedV2 for printing image brochures and in PSOUncoatedV3 for printing stationery. For video productions, the Rec.709 colour space is also to be taken into account.

In Gamutmap you can now easily select the colour spaces sRGB, ISOCoatedV2, PSOUncoatedV3 and Rec.709 and then click on “show”. After a few seconds you will only see the colours that are available in all selected colour spaces. If you move the mouse over a colour field, you will directly see the absolute colorimetric values of the colour in all selected colour spaces and you can copy them directly to your clipboard.

Since the hex value of the sRGB colour space was also still interesting, this colour space was additionally marked for display. The HLC and Lab values of all colours can be read directly in the colour table. All other colour values can be copied to the clipboard simply by moving the mouse to the desired colour field. For the colour field shown in the example above, it looks like this:

HLC: H005 | L055 | C035
Lab: 55 | 34,867 | 3,05
sRGB: 188 | 106 | 128
sRGB (HEX): #BC6A80
Rec. ITU-R BT.709-5: 188 | 87 | 115
ISO Coated V2 (ECI): 14 | 64 | 27 | 11
PSO Uncoated V3 (Fogra52): 10 | 70 | 34 | 8

Gamutmap is “Work in Progress”

We are sure that gamutmap will be a great help to many designers in creating cross-media corporate designs and are very happy that we were able to start and push the project with the members of freieFarbe e.V. For us, gamutmap is “work in progress”, which means: In the coming weeks we will add further functionalities and features to gamutmap. For example, a German version is in progress, and the download of spectral D50 CxF data of the selected colours should be possible in the future directly while hovering over the respective colour field, if the field is in the gamut of the freefarbe CIELAB HLC Colour Atlas XL. Further function extensions are already on our wish list… 🙂

We welcome suggestions, criticism, wishes and any support for the expansion and addition of Gamutmap.

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