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Do print companies care about ICC colour profiles?

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by jones89, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. jones89

    jones89 New Member

    Hi, I'm new to the technical side of print design, so please be gentle!

    I would really appreciate if someone from a printing company could tell me whether commercial printing companies derive any benefit from an ICC (such as US SWOP Coated v2, which I am under the impression is the norm in the UK too?) vs an untagged CMYK .ai or .eps file. :icon_dunno:

    I use Adobe Illustrator to make logos, posters, business cards and letterheads. For some reason I can save Photoshop files with an embedded ICC profile (Adobe Bridge shows me this) but when I try with Illustrator, Adobe Bridge always shows my files as 'untagged CMYK'. :icon_Wall: - Before I go to the Adobe part of these forums to ask for technical help, it dawned on me that I should ask whether commercial printers care about this in the first place! - If they don't, I don't! :icon_biggrin:

    I have read many file submission guidelines for different printing companies, and colour managment is never mentioned - just the usual basic things like bleeds, and fonts etc. etc.

    Thanks in advance. :icon_smile:
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  2. DougBarned

    DougBarned Member

    In my experience and after asking a few printer suppliers when I've wondered about this myself, the short answer is NO, they don't usually matter. A lot of large print suppliers will strip out any embedded profile and apply their own. Just make sure your final print pdf is CMYK and you'll be fine.

    However, saying this, the longer answer is check with your intended supplier. They may even have a profile of their own for you to apply. Or at least have instructions of some sort.

    It's important that you're considering these things as they can control the amount of ink that's laid down on a sheet, the tolerances etc... But check with the printer you're going to use.

    Might probably doesn't matter, but it might matter a lot :)

  3. jones89

    jones89 New Member

    Hi, thanks for your answer.

    In my (limited) experience, it seems that some don't care, and that this is a bd thing, because even converting from one CMYK profile to another or from untagged CMYK to another, there is a colour shift.

    I converted my logo, designed in US SWOP coated v2 to Euroscale v2 coated, and the blues (it was mostly blue) shifted to a purple colour. Not good!

    It is my guess that the bad print companies don't care about profiles, and that the good ones do.

    A UK company has told me to use US SWOP coated, and a different print company, in Austria, central Europe (where I am at the moment) has asked for ECI ISOcoated v2 (which isn't even a built-in profile in Adobe software, and therefore I'll have to download it and install it. However, it is apparently 95% similar to Euroscale v2, which is built into Adobe software).

    So, in summary, I think I've discovered the answer to be that those who tell you what they use, will give you a more accurate result, than those who don't care...and that it's therefore better to use the print companies who tell you to use the same colour space that they will use once you send the file to them for prepress preparation and printing. (There are literally some companies who do no prepress for you, and won't refund you if it looks totally different to what you are expecting, and surprise surprise, don't bother giving you any information about colour management.)

    I guess it is all down to the individual printer, but the one I will use here in Austria want a specific profile for coated and uncoated work...whether they change it behind the scenes I don't know, but I'm under the impression that they don't.

    Correct me if I'm wrong! I'm a rookie at this! I know there are professional print companies on this forum.
  4. As a printer I thought I would quickly try help here.

    The Online Print Company (we) just require it in CMYK and as a PDF anything embedded is stripped and disposed off.

    I have attached our business card spec sheet to assist

    As you will see this simply requests the right layouts and CMYK, most printers will have their own specs and as long as you meet these the rest is a bit of a waste of time.

    Hope this helps.
  5. matty1491

    matty1491 New Member


    I work at a digital print company, and we prefer the colour profile to be either CMYK or in Pantone. Illustrator and Photoshop allow you to change the colour profile in one click. However, do this before starting your document, otherwise the layers will flatten!
  6. DougBarned

    DougBarned Member

    Not entirely correct - Illustrator won't flatten. Photoshop (modern versions at least) give you the option to rasterize and / or flatten items. I always choose not to and never have problems.

    That being said, I tend to place Photoshop and Illustrator files in InDesign when putting items together. This allows you to specify the output profile on export - allowing you to avoid any need to convert in other software.
  7. DougBarned

    DougBarned Member

    Having asked most printers I've worked with if they favour a profile, this has been my experience across the board.
  8. Hi, an interesting thread - don't tar all printers with the same brush though.

    There are a few of us out here who fully understand and utilise colour management. If you're subbing work to a printer and they say "send me files in CMYK" ask them "which CMYK would you like?" If their eyes glaze over or they stumble around for an answer, take your work somewhere else if you care about accurate colour. This article covers this exact subject.

    As a fully colour managed print house I confess to grumbling about how few designers actually produce colour managed artwork. If you can't communicate your colour accurately, how can you expect to receive accurate colour? The reverse is clearly also true. When you as a designer care enough to communicate your colour accurately, you need a printer who understands the language you're talking. By all means drop me an e-mail if I can be of use.

    "I converted my logo, designed in US SWOP coated v2 to Euroscale v2 coated, and the blues (it was mostly blue) shifted to a purple colour. Not good!"

    You'll find that if you "converted" between SWOP and Euroscale you should have seen no colour change (but the numbers would have altered). But if you "assigned" you would have seen a colour change (but the numbers would have stayed the same). Give it a go and see if that was the issue.

    All the best.


    PS. You might want to take a look at too if using the strengths of certain colour spaces in your designs interests you.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010

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