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Color Management

Color Management is simply the process that one will follow to ensure that their color is as accurate as possible.

There are as many ways to manage color as there are products: each can have different methods to managing their.

For our purposes we are focusing on color management within an apparel color work flow. A printer of ink on paper, for example, will have an entirely different color management process.

The process outlined below is a suggestion of what a good general color management will consist of. It is, by no means, definitive.

If you're looking for a more custom guide for your company, we do provide a completely free services that walks you through the process leading you do a more custom solution for your business.

Color Management

#1 - Lighting

Using correct lighting principles are the most important piece of managing your color properly.

The fabric you are viewing will have a different appearance according to the light that it’s under.

You and your supply chain must use the same light source to ensure that you are viewing the color in the same way. The nice thing about improving your lighting conditions is that it is not terribly expensive and will pay off with improved quality.

  • Decide what your primary light source will be. It may be product-dependent, e.g., outdoor clothing or swimwear will probably use D65 (daylight). Your light source may also depend on your customer. Say a major retailer, like Target is is your largest customer. You may use their standard of TL84 as your primary.
  • A secondary light source is also important, especially to check for color constancy. Choose a secondary light source that is far enough away from the primary to get maximum benefit. Daylight and Cool White Fluorescent are fairly close to each other and generally should not be used together as a primary and secondary.
  • A Light Box that has, at least, your primary and secondary light sources is crucial to standardizing your viewing condition. This will allow you to see a color exactly how your mill is seeing it. If not, then you may very well be looking at two different colors.

#2 - Color Standards (Physical)

A reason to use physical standards is to set expectations properly but also to define what the end goal is when trying to match that color. Designers by nature are visual people and a physical standard sets the goal visually. When possible, spectral data should be used in conjunction with the physical standard.

  • A physical color standard, preferably in the same fiber that you are working in, is a basic must.
  • Aged standards should never be used. Fresh, just purchased standards should be used whenever possible.
  • It is important that you and the mill are looking at the same standard. That means, it cannot be just from a book, aged or handled in any way. It may be necessary to supply your mills with a freshly-purchased standard. It’s expensive but a guarantee that the mill is working from the same standard as you are.
  • Physical standards must always be viewed in a light box under your specified primary light source.
  • Physical standards should always be conditioned before being read or used for evaluation. Those conditioning standards are:
    • 72 Degrees Fahrenheit
    • 65% Relative Humidity (15 minutes in a conditioning cabinet under 65% RH)
    • Exposure to D65 light for 15 minutes

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