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Chapter 14. The Slippery Science of Color > Color Management Essentials

Color Management Essentials

Now that you've been thoroughly initiated into the friendly fraternity of color theory and application, it's time to broach the prickly issue of color management. Ouch! Was that the sound of an 800-plus page book being abruptly slammed shut? Don't worry, it's not as bad as you've heard. All it takes is a little understanding, a little experimentation, and a little acceptance that we live in a world where reproducing color isn't perfect or exact.

First let me say that you cannot expect to buy a decent computer and monitor, do a little calibration on that monitor, and expect to achieve a WYSIWYG world. It flat doesn't exist. Why this is so is because of a couple of reasons. First of all, you learned earlier in this chapter that there are two main color models—RGB and CYMK. The RGB color space, which your monitor uses, has a much wider color gamut (range) than CMYK, the gamut your printer uses. Therefore, many of the colors you see onscreen fall outside of CMYK's color reproduction capabilities. Those electric blues and fiery reds you view onscreen turn into a dull, muddy version of their former selves. Throw into the mix that different devices—whether they are scanners, monitors, or printers—can possess different gamuts within the same color model. In other words, the RGB color space of a scanner can differ from the RGB color space of a monitor. And to complicate matters further, the color spaces between the same kind of device can differ as well. The RGB color space on an Apple Cinema display can vary from the RGB color space on a 17-inch generic Trinitron monitor. Device-dependent color—color produced by specific pieces of hardware—varies from one device to the next and that is just the way of the world.


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