How to Achieve the Best Colors with ICC Color Profiles
Written by: David Timmerman, Technical Specialist, Graphics Solutions , Avery Dennison on news.averydennison.com/blog
First, let’s define what an ICC profile is and how it works in everyday printing.
ICC stands for International Color Consortium, it was established in 1993 by eight industry vendors who got together and devoted their talents to standardizing color so that it worked across multiple platforms. Their goal was to make color seamless between devices and documents.
The key to achieving great color when printing on a large format printer is an ICC color profile. You will find ICC color profiles within any raster image processing software also known as RIP software. RIP software is not only a print driver on steroids but also a control center for color management to provide consistent color.
RIP software can control key pieces of data for color output, including rendering intents, resolutions, ink saturation, heat settings, input profiles, output profiles and much more. ICC color profiles are one part of the complete color management system but an important component to achieving a quality output from your large format printer.
Each large format printer has its own unique characteristics with different types of print heads, ink, print speeds and resolutions. These characteristics can be controlled by the RIP software to optimize the output and quality of the print.
Each Avery Dennison film also has its own unique characteristics such as whether it is cast or calendered vinyl, if it has a gloss or matte finish and if the material is clear or white. When an ICC color profile is created, it takes on its own identity specific to the media characteristics it was profiled on.
All ICC profiles are RIP, printer, ink media and print quality dependent. In other words, a unique ICC color profile must be created for every RIP, printer, ink , media and print quality combination. Each of these factors changes the way that color is reproduced on the media. If one item in the list changes (i.e. using a different media or a different print quality mode), then you must create a new profile or find one that meets your needs. Using the wrong profile may cause color shifts and printing problems.
It is very important to pick the right profile for the material you are using. Differences can be seen from one profile to another as well as when you have no ICC color profile when printing.
Without an ICC color profile all your colors can be oversaturated with no color control. (Image 1)
With the correct ICC color profile, the flesh tones are dialed in, the colors are bright and the quality is sharp. (Image 2)
Color can be subjective. Make sure you evaluate your printer output to determine if you have selected the correct ICC color profile and that you are satisfied with it. Look for any color shifts, oversaturation or lack of ink coverage, edge curling or drying problems. If you notice these types of issues, it might be time to realinearize your profile by following the suggested steps from your printer manufacture or RIP software. You can also go online to find an ICC color profile that matches your RIP, printer, ink and Avery Dennison material.
Where to find ICC Profiles for Avery Dennison media?
Most RIP software is ready to go after you install or run the latest updates. They contain a handful of ICC color profiles, print modes and resolution configurations. Avery Dennison works directly with many RIP software companies to ensure Avery Dennison media ICC color profiles are included. But with so many updates, new printer releases and ink configurations, these profiles are often created later. If your RIP software does not have the Avery Dennison media ICC color profiles, then you will need to locate it online, download it and import the profile into your RIP software.
Avery Dennison media ICC color profiles are available here: https://avery-us.color-base.com.
If you do not have an account yet, please register in order to access over 3,000 different ICC color profiles. To navigate to your specific ICC color profile, you will need to enter the following information:
- Printer manufacturer
- Printer model
- Ink type
- Ink setup
- RIP manufacturer
- RIP version
- Avery Dennison media
You will quickly find the profile you need.
What if my profile doesn’t exist?
If you discover that your Avery Dennison media does not have a profile, click on the “Request the profiles you need” button.
Fill out all the necessary information and submit your request so that your profile request can be considered.
Another option to consider if you cannot find the exact media name with a profile, you can simply select a media profile that closely matches your material. If your material is a calendered vinyl with a matte finish, then locate a similar media profile that is a calendered vinyl with a matte finish. For example, if your material is MPI 2126 Hi Tack Easy Apply™ which is a matte calendered vinyl then you could potentially use the media profile for the MPI 2120 which is also a matte calendered vinyl. Do a small print test to confirm acceptable color output.
By using the correct ICC color profile that matches your RIP, printer, ink and Avery Dennison media, you will achieve consistent color, crisper images and save time and money by printing it right the first time.
* Photos are copyright GATF – Graphic Arts Technical Foundation 1996 and licensed by Avery Dennison.