ColorNews Issue #10

The Color of Toast

C H R O M i X C O L O R N E W S

Issue #10
December 17th, 2003


Welcome to ColorNews, a periodic update on things related to Color
Management. We are striving for a regular consistent newsletter of high
value to our customers. Please let us know what your interests are so we
can address these concerns in our coming issues.

This month we would like to draw particular attention to two items:

** ONE DAY HALF PRICE SALE ON PROFILEMAKER PRO!! See details below or go to
click here

** The Color of Toast
an article written by CHROMiX President Steve Upton that you'll want to read.

Table of Contents

1. CHROMiX News
2. Color & Product News
3. Industry News
3. Shows and Events
4. ColorFAQs - this month's FAQ is on The Color of Toast
5. CHROMiX USED items for sale
6. ColorNews Administration (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)


Since our last ColorNews issue (October) many things have happened at CHROMiX that are worth mentioning here:

** CORBIS has become a CHROMiX PARTNER!!! This announcement has serious import if you're a CORBIS Photographer, Designer, Client or Member. You are eligible for unrivaled savings on CORBIS endorsed color management products! These products and services have been carefully thought out, tested, and conform to CORBIS high standards of quality. Check out the full details at
click here
or if you have any questions, please call Rick Hatmaker at Extension #7.

By the way
The PARTNER PROGRAM has been very well received. We are very excited about this and we hope you will be too. Go to
click here to find out how to 'get with the program' or check out the Steve Upton's article about it in last month's ColorNews issue #9 at click here

** Catch Steve Upton speaking at the following events:

MACWORLD, Moscone center, San Francisco, CA January 5-9, 2004
- How to Evaluate Color Profiles

- Color Management for Advertising Agencies, 11:15am

** CHROMiX will be ending the FREE Eye-One Display promotion December 31st. See details below.

NOTE: If you've bought an EyeOne Display, you have until December 31st to utilize the $200 coupon towards the purchase of an EyeOne Photo, Publish, Beamer or Pro Bundle. Furthermore, CHROMiX will kick in another $50 towards your upgrade purchase! It doesn't matter where you bought it. That's $250 total savings!!! When it ends, it really ends. So take advantage before it's too late!

Color & Product News

Apple released Panther (Mac OS 10.3). Jury is in. Good product!

In Panther Apple released ColorSync for OS 10.3 (Panther) that touts features like: Host-based color matching, an improved Display Calibrator, ColorSync Gamut Display and Comparison, Default ColorSync Matching, fully supports the ICC version 4 standard, and more. For more information go to:
click here

GretagMacbeth has just introduced a new EyeOne for higher end monitor calibration and control. EyeOne Display PM includes the ProfileMaker Monitor Module. Retail is $399, CHROMiX price is $379. Existing EyeOne owners can upgrade to the PM Module for $199.
click here

Meanwhile: GretagMacbeth is challenging users to switch from an old monitor calibration/profiling product to the EyeOne Display. Get $80 back from the trade-in of your old calibrator and software when you buy an EyeOne Display.
click here

Attention EyeOne Pro device owners: GretagMacbeth's $500 discount for upgrading to ProfileMaker Pro 4.1 ENDS December 31st, 2003. Take $500 off when you purchase the full version of ProfileMaker Pro 4.1. See CHROMiX offer at
click here

Monaco released two new versions of its OPTIX line: MonacoOPTIX XR and MonacoOPTIX XR PRO. These are the first products co-developed by X-Rite and Monaco since X-Rite acquired Monaco in July 2003)

Phase One released Capture One PRO 1.2 for Mac OS X in November. The new version of Phase One's digital SLR RAW processing application (formerly known as Capture One DSLR) broadens its base of cameras to include the full range of Canon SLR models, supports Mac OS X 10.3 and introduces much more functionality and improvements.

- December 7-9, 2003 (past) The GATF Color Management Conference was held in Phoenix, AZ. This is the only conference devoted exclusively to color management technology. It is also an opportunity to rub elbows with some of the top minds in the industry. This year's event was the one of the best! We encourage you to attend next year; it will be worth your time. Watch the GATF conference website schedule for the 2004 event.
CHROMiX (by the way) was the proud sponsor of the wireless network for all GATF Conference attendees at this year's event.
And, Steve Upton was the winner of the speaker who had the highest number of participations (5 seminars and 2 Labs). Go Steve Go!

- and FujiFilm are sponsoring the FREE PROFESSIONAL WORKFLOW Workshop with Will Crockett at various locations around the country. Spend all day with nationally recognized digital mentor Will Crockett and improve the image quality of YOUR digital capture portraits. Will shares his deep technical knowledge, his pro digital techniques, and even a few secrets Find out more and US locations at: click here

- January 5-9, 2004 MacWorld Expo and Conference will be at Moscone Center in San Francisco. And, for the first time ever, MacWorld has devoted two entire days to Color Management within the PowerTools Conferences!
click here

- January 5-7, 2004 National Event Photographers Conference and Trade Show in Dallas, Texas.
click here

- February 7-10, 2004 PEI Live! Conference for Digital Photographers in Dallas, Texas. The Professional Photographers of America has elevated this to be one of the great photography events. Speakers include: John Paul Caponigro, Bruce Fraser, Jim Divitale, Jeff Schewe, Greg Gorman, Henry Wilhelm, Katrin Eismann, Martin Evening, Scott Kelby, Jack Reznicki.
click here


Each month, our President Steve Upton will take time to answer questions
we receive on a regular basis. If you have specific questions or
comments, please see below for how to make submissions.

This Month - The Color of Toast

This article has seen a lot of seminars. It is the simplest method I have found so far to introduce the concept of color management with a minimum of technical terms and concepts. I have had such good success with this analogy that I felt I should publish it here.

A lot has been written and said about color management in an attempt to describe what it is, what it solves and how it works. Like any discussion about computing, these descriptions often use fancy new terms that effectively confuse and turn off people who just want to understand, well, what it is, what it solves and how it works.

An effective and greatly simplified analogy is that of the toaster. Pay attention here because this is one even your clients will understand.
Let's say you get up in the morning, walk out to your kitchen and place a piece of bread in your toaster setting it to a level of "4". After a little while a certain color of toast pops out - hopefully a pleasing color. Now if you take the next piece of bread in the loaf over to your neighbors and put it in his toaster at the same setting of "4" do you think you will get the same color of toast?

Probably not.

This is the problem of color management. The settings used on the toaster do not necessarily produce the same colors. As in the toaster, RGB and CMYK values on your computer are also just settings. And, just like the toasters, when they are sent to different devices, they produce different colors!

Now if you were a severe toast geek, you would toast 10 pieces of bread in your toaster; one at every setting. Then you would lay them all out in order on your kitchen table, grab the bag of bread and head over to your neighbor's. Avoiding his bewildered stares you would toast 10 pieces of bread in his toaster and take them back to lay on your table beside your toaster's work. Fanning through your Toastone independent toast guide(*) you would decide that "B" was, in fact, the color of toast you prefer. Looking up and down your toaster column you would confirm that yes, indeed, "4" is the setting on your toaster that will get you the color you want - you know this after several mornings of frantically waving smoke away from the alarm on your kitchen ceiling. After looking over your neighbor's toaster column, you note that a setting of "6" is what is needed to get the color you want from his toaster.

This, in essence, is what color management is all about. Carefully sampling what a device (monitor, printer, toaster, whatever) will do and then comparing it to an independent guide for actual color. In the case of the toast we used the fictitious Toast Guide and in the case of computers we typically use the Lab color space. Lab is a whole 3D range of numbers across 3 coordinates (L for lightness and a & b for color information). The important thing about Lab is that it is actually COLOR. That is, a number that represents a sensation.

Let's take a little reminder on color. Color is a sensation produced by the cooperation of our eyes and our brains in response to mixtures of light. To have color you need 1) light, 2) an object and 3) an observer - for our purposes, a human observer. Without all these components you do not have color.

Lab, as mentioned, is a whole range of numbers that are assigned to actual sensations. Each Lab number - like 50, 23, 47 - describes what a certain sample will look like under 5000K lighting (a graphic arts viewing standard in use in most viewing booths) and from a standard distance (creating a specifically sized spot on the retina) to an "average" person. In 1931 a group of scientists sat many people down to perform painstaking color tests to come up with this "average" person and for our purposes it works quite well.

Back to the toaster.

To get the same color from different toasters, we needed to sample all the colors of toast the lowly machine could produce and then compare them to an independent guide. This lookup table is the equivalent of an ICC profile.

To get the same color from different devices - what we are basically trying to do here - we need to sample all the colors that device can produce and setup a table that converts between the device settings - say, a monitor - and the colors it produces at those settings. For a monitor we attach a device to the monitor and then run software that walks through a list of settings,: red (255,0,0), yellow (255,255,0), green (0,255,0), and so forth. At each RGB value, it takes a reading with the instrument and gets a Lab color back. After running through a long list that only a computer should have to suffer, a profile is built for that monitor.

If we want to get the same color from our printer as well then we also need to build a profile for it. The same technique applies. We send a file out to the printer that contains a long list of settings - for example: cyan (100,0,0,0), blue (100,100,0,0), magenta (0,100,0,0), and so forth. We then read each patch on the paper with a device like the Eye-One that supplies Lab values for each corresponding set of CMYK settings that were sent. A few calculations and your computer produces a profile for your printer.

Great, you think, but how do I use these things? That depends on what you are trying to achieve.

A good example is when you want to get the file you print to match the one you see on screen. The file on screen is, by definition, in MonitorRGB and you need to convert it to PrinterCMYK. If you apply the monitor profile to the file, it will convert all those MonitorRGB settings which are unique to your monitor to Lab (remember the toaster). Lab, you will recall, is color - so we are out of the arbitrary world of settings that only work for your monitor and on to something much more useful.

Any profile can be applied to those Lab values to get the color you want. In this case, we want the color to go to your printer. When the printer profile is applied it formulates the correct CMYK settings for each color in your file. A good quality profile will do a great job of matching those colors within the abilities of the printer.

At first blush it may seem like a toaster is an over-simplification of color management but the analogy actually fits quite well. When you are in the process of untangling a complicated workflow just remember; they are all different toasters. A good profile for each device, applied properly and color will flow through your shop predictably.

* totally fictitious but familiar sounding color guide for Toast
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