The brutal truth of colour management is that, although most graphics and DTP folk know they need it, many chose to muddle through without it because it does their head in. This is because the colour-management marketplace is crammed with wildly diverse software and hardware solutions, all of which claim to offer the “definitive” approach. While reviewing around a dozen different solutions in the past 18 months, I’ve come to understand that the more one knows about it, the less clear it becomes.
TypeMaker must share this view, because Colour Confidence Studio (CCS) offers a refreshingly simple approach to the subject. If simplicity is one of its strengths, then value is another, because CCS offers a colorimeter monitor-calibrator, plus numerous software elements.
Most consumer monitor-calibrators alone cost around £350-£400, yet CCS also includes a Repro Pack – containing a reference print for verifying monitor colour, and a matching CMYK file for calibrating scanners and printers.
What Profile? can be run as a stand-alone program or a Photoshop 7.0 plug-in, and allows the user to make informed decisions about the best RGB and CMYK profiles to use. Rather like Photoshop’s Save for Web window, What Profile? offers four views of a single image, each of which is displayed using a different colour profile – thus enabling meaningful side-by-side comparison. The four RGB and four CMYK profiles are pre-selected in What Profile?’s preferences. In both RGB and CMYK modes, What Profile? enables the preferred profile to be embedded with a single click. By comparison, choosing and embedding a profile in Photoshop is a labyrinthine process.
The monitor-calibration component of the package comprises the Pantone Spyder colorimeter and PhotoCal calibration software (Macworld Reviews, April 2002). PhotoCal is now Mac OS X-compatible, and provides reliable profiles – thanks to the fact that it does not rely on the by-eye brightness and contrast adjustments that render so many monitor-calibration solutions little more than a lottery.
Value-for-money CSS plugs the hole between incomplete consumer solutions and prohibitively expensive professional ones. It’s pitched squarely at those who don’t give a tinker’s cuss how colour management works, only that it does.