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Thread: Understanding print safe color palettes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Understanding print safe color palettes

    Hi!

    Although I have had Artrage for several years, I don't use it frequently and colors are not my thing, line art is. I have hit a wall in trying to understand print safe colors - using cmyk, NOT rgb. Once in a while, I create something I would like printed with color, and have discovered I have made the mistake of using rgb colors and what looked good on the screen will turn out to be a bad decision in print form.

    I have read some advice on users running their Artrage creation through photoshop to create printsafe colors.

    1. I don't have Photoshop. I love Artrage and the economics of cost.

    2. I have found threads to col files but the colors are so limited compared to http://www.art-paints.com/Paints/Wat...xtra-Fine.html Obviously, if I was more skilled at blending colors I am sure I could arrive to the color I needed.

    So my question is the Daniel Smith link has LOTS of colors. I don't understand how to use it. Do I screenshot it and bring it into Artrage as a sample and use the color dropper? Do I click on each color to enter the area and only reference the CMYK values?

    Also, is there anything that Artrage has packaged in it that I should be approaching differently to start with when my intention is print output? Are there other alternative methods for converting to cmyk? BTW, I am still on ArtRage 4.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    510
    Quote Originally Posted by itjane View Post
    Hi!

    Although I have had Artrage for several years, I don't use it frequently and colors are not my thing, line art is. I have hit a wall in trying to understand print safe colors - using cmyk, NOT rgb. Once in a while, I create something I would like printed with color, and have discovered I have made the mistake of using rgb colors and what looked good on the screen will turn out to be a bad decision in print form.

    I have read some advice on users running their Artrage creation through photoshop to create printsafe colors.

    1. I don't have Photoshop. I love Artrage and the economics of cost.

    2. I have found threads to col files but the colors are so limited compared to http://www.art-paints.com/Paints/Wat...xtra-Fine.html Obviously, if I was more skilled at blending colors I am sure I could arrive to the color I needed.

    So my question is the Daniel Smith link has LOTS of colors. I don't understand how to use it. Do I screenshot it and bring it into Artrage as a sample and use the color dropper? Do I click on each color to enter the area and only reference the CMYK values?

    Also, is there anything that Artrage has packaged in it that I should be approaching differently to start with when my intention is print output? Are there other alternative methods for converting to cmyk? BTW, I am still on ArtRage 4.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
    The problem you are having is largely solved by using color management and a compatible workflow.

    Colors are colors whether reproduced with RGB or CMYK. Each device, whether a monitor or a printer has its limitations in the color gamut it can reproduce. Generally a monitor can reproduce a wider color gamut than a printer. As a necessity, a printer, having a smaller color gamut has to do something with the image data to fit it within its limited range.

    My advice is three fold.

    1. Get a high quality color gamut tested monitor, or get a monitor calibrator like SpyderX from datacolor (or colormunki etc)- This will generate a color profile to ensure what you see on your monitor is as close as possible to the image data as sent from your computer.

    2. Profile your printer (here you need something like SpyderPrint by datacolor, but there are others out there I think). This will generate a color profile to ensure your prints appear as close to the intended image as possible. Due to the physical limitations of ink, you are limited in the possibilities, but "perceptual" (rescaling essentially) of the color gamut produces the best results IMHO... by creating colors which are appear correct in relation to each other even if the absolute colors are impossible to reproduce on a printer. If you are using a bigbox printer sometimes they will provide a color profile for you online (e.g. Costco)

    3. Softproofing. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you want to know what your work will actually look like you need to softproof with the monitor and printer profile. Softproofing software takes into account your monitor profile and your printer profile to try to display on your screen what a printout of your image would actually look like. Depending on the software and the accuracy of your profiles, this actually can be quite accurate although never perfect.


    Once you have finished your artwork, use imaging software which includes softproofing and image adjustment (gamma, brightness, saturation, contrast etc) to adjust the overall look to get it as close to what you want.


    You could also make a feature request for ArtRage to incorporate color management and softproofing...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    1,090
    Hello itjane,
    AR only shows colours in RGB, thus giving it’s users the widest standard colour gamut to play in.
    But yes that dose mean that not all your zingy bright colours may print accurately.

    1: I don’t have Photoshop either! Other cheaper alternatives are available! (Oh and I love ArtRage too!)
    But I also don’t believe in one tool to do everything and would say have a look around and see what might complement working with ArtRage for you.

    2: Yes CMYK is a much narrower colour gamut than sRGB and because of this pretty much what you see on screen will print accurately.
    Sadly, and I really wish this would change in ArtRage, there is no access to the system colour picker where you could input colour value numbers nor is this possible with the Colour Panel in AR.
    So to get specific colours from the Danial Smith site, yes you will have to bring them in as screenshots and sample the colours from them.
    But have a look around the Art Supplies forum here, there’s probably lots pallets already made that you could use.

    It’s also worth saying that not all printing methods work the same!
    Some like professional ‘Gicle’ printing for example could be using up to 12 print colours thus greatly extending the colour possibility’s beyond what the 4 colours of CMYK can give.
    So maybe in this brave new world of fine art printing it’s better not to limit yourself too much to the traditional CMYK boundaries.
    Last edited by markw; 08-16-2019 at 01:37 AM. Reason: A Typo!
    Maker Of Replica Macoys

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by itjane View Post
    Hi!

    Although I have had Artrage for several years, I don't use it frequently and colors are not my thing, line art is. I have hit a wall in trying to understand print safe colors - using cmyk, NOT rgb. Once in a while, I create something I would like printed with color, and have discovered I have made the mistake of using rgb colors and what looked good on the screen will turn out to be a bad decision in print form.
    Hi,

    you're likely running into a screen/printer calibration mismatch. regardless of the end color space you're exporting your files into, if you're looking at an uncalibrated screen, you won't be able to get a correct estimate of what your printer results would look like.
    my home printer prints straight from RGB, same with several print labs I've used in the past (I don't do printing often, but I need very accurate color reproduction for whatever I do.)

    I have read some advice on users running their Artrage creation through photoshop to create printsafe colors.

    1. I don't have Photoshop. I love Artrage and the economics of cost.
    there're either inexpensive, or budget friendly professional alternatives. GIMP is the ugly freeware applet that does incredible color conversion, I've heard very positive comments on how affinity photo handles this feature too.
    you'll need to invest into purchasing or renting a color calibrator. ask around the photo stores in your area (or idk a local photography group on facebook/meetup if you have one) if they could suggest something for an artist on a budget.

    2. I have found threads to col files but the colors are so limited compared to http://www.art-paints.com/Paints/Wat...xtra-Fine.html Obviously, if I was more skilled at blending colors I am sure I could arrive to the color I needed.

    So my question is the Daniel Smith link has LOTS of colors. I don't understand how to use it. Do I screenshot it and bring it into Artrage as a sample and use the color dropper? Do I click on each color to enter the area and only reference the CMYK values?
    I would not overthink the entire color management issue too much.

    another thing is: even if your color swatches are (hypothetically) professionally sampled and accurate to their real life sources, artrage will add a lot of color variety due to the nature of its oil simulation during painting. eventually, some of the mixing colors will blow out of CMYK boundaries, at which point you'll have to convert between profiles.
    if you print straight from an RGB file (you'll still have to calibrate your screen, and embed the screen color profile into every file you're sending off for print though), you will have accurate print output with minimal coloristic deviation from the original file.


    Quote Originally Posted by markw View Post
    AR only shows colours in sRGB, thus giving itís users the widest standard colour gamut to play in.
    But yes that dose mean that not all your zingy bright colours may print accurately.
    is this a typo? artrage absolutely doesn't force sRGB (the srgb iec61966 icc profile) in any way, unless that's what you have set-up in the OS/screen color management preferences.
    a lot of screens at the moment are capable of displaying more than sRGB gamut was designed to handle - they should be professionally calibrated however to ensure accuracy.

    and yes, the 6++ printer inks systems are adopted pretty widely, especially with the print labs that cater to art and pro photography customers; most of them request files as RGB with the original screen profile embedded

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Thank you for your replies, I will give it a go!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Oops well spotted nekomata that was indeed a typo.
    As you say most professional print houses will require an appropriate icc profile embedded in a file.
    As ArtRage dose not assign any profile when exporting an image it might be worth mentioning here that if you have no other graphics apps to use you can use Preview on Mac’s to assign one. In Preview, go to; Tools > Assign Profile…
    The print houses I use both require sRGB IEC61966-2.1
    Maker Of Replica Macoys

    Techie Stuff:
    ArtRage 6.1.1 ~ 15" Macbook Pro
    ~ macOS 10.14.6 ~ 4 Core i7 3.1GHz CPU ~ 16GB RAM ~ Wacom Intuos4 M

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