Probably the most misunderstood topic in inkjet printing is RIP and color management software. Sometimes I think most companies would rather you not understand what it is all about. This page is designed to give you a basic guide. For a more in depth understanding, go to “RIPs and Color Management – the Whole Story”. To some people, RIP and color management software is like a puzzle. Which piece goes where? We intend to make the pieces fit and give you the opportunity to see the potential of printing with greater control. This topic is one of my personal pet peeves. We feel an educated consumer is our best and most fruitful customer.
The choice of whether to use a RIP or to print through the printer’s driver in an application such as Photoshop relates to how much control you need. In this discussions, let us discuss briefly the differences between printing through Photoshop and printing through an RGB RIP and then we will discuss printing through a full-featured RIP.
A Brief Discussion on the Two Types of RIPs
An RGB RIP utilizes the output table (ink control) from the printer driver, allowing you to create a correction profile, which most people think is the way profiling works. Unfortunately, the profile only corrects for the innaccuracies of the paper and the generic output table created by the printer manufacturer. THe ink limit and ink blending is preset by the media of your choice. Most people are comfortable with this approach because it does not require any real learning and can produce good prints.
A full CMYK and multi-channel RIP controls every aspect of ink usage and allows you to control the amount of light ink blending into dark ink. Each full RIP has different approaching to controlling ink. There are numerous values in being able to control ink for fine art where you need greater saturation and less use of light inks, this type of RIP makes a great difference.
How Color Management Works
The printer, the inks, and the media have no intelligence in knowing how to accurately print an image. It is the relationship between the Rip and the Color Management that corrects the color. The Epson, Canon, HP drivers all are rips. They convert pixels and lines into dots per inch. They also control the printer to produce and accurate output.
How Profiling Works
You are given a chart of colors by the Color Management Software that cover the color spectrum. These charts contain a relationship from light to dark colors very much like a linearization in a RIP. You print the chart without adding any profile to it, therefore; it has no correction or restructuring. Then, with a spectrophotometer, such as an i1 from Xrite, you read these colors into the software and it compares what color values of the patches it gave you and what it received in the printing and then it corrects for the differences as best as it can. Now, you might ask what does that mean? Do I need better software?
The ink set you are using, no matter what brand, only has a few color inks, unlike a painter that goes to his supplier and buys as many colors as he or she wishes. Therefore, given your basic CMYK or Hexachrome color pallet of your printer, the correction, the profile, will restructure the amount of each color necessary to make the best color correction it can. The media plays an important roll. The better the coating on the media, the higher the gamut of colors.
The Profiles Color Gamut
There are billions of colors and depending on the media, you may only receive between 300 to 600 thousand colors. The main question you need to ask is, does the amount of colors I am obtaining, the colors I need or want. Am I obtaining good reds and other colors I need? Having a large color Gamut does not insure you getting the colors you need. It does, however, it give you more potential for reproducing a wider range that maybe what you need.
I am mentioning this aspect, because our company receives a number of calls and emails from people looking for more color, richer reds, cleaner color, and many issues regarding color accuracy as well as color saturation.
YOu bring an image into an application such as Photoshop where you tune it to your liking and then go to the print button. The print button takes you to a setup where you choose your resolution and paper. Then you set the paper size you will be needing. If your picture is not standard in size you will have to create a new size. This is basically simple until you decide to print two or more images. In that case, you must setup your canvas to accomodate all the images and then copy and paste them into the canvas creating a layout. This now becomes a bit of work and uses up a great deal of computer resources. If your print is not coming out well, you can create a profile to correct the color.
Print Through an RGB RIP
An RGB RIP is very much like printing through Photoshop which relies on the printer driver.
Virtually all RIPs work as a layout software, allowing you to drag-and-drop an image into the page. THen you can add more images and place them as you like as well as add borders. You can crop the images independently as well. As in Photoshop you choose your paper setting and tell it to print. This is a lot easier to use. It is like working my web design software drag and drop, resize, crop and balance.
As in Photoshop, you can create a profile to correct the color.
The question you should be asking is the RIP offering you the same or better quality tan printing through Photoshop using the print driver.
Here is where our expertise lie. We have chosen RGB setups that are as good or better.
At this time Xrite has taken over Monaco and Gretag software and hardware making it the basic only software to be used. Xrite has strived to solve some of the problems associated with over inking and color stauration. While most people think that the mystery lies in color management, the RIP is the key to allowing color management to produce rich color and enhanced 3/4 tone detail.
While Xrite has made producing a profile easier, they have removed some individual controls that offered variations int he 3/4 tone.
Basically Xrite’s i1Profiler will produce a very good profile. When you go to visit our i1Profiler page you will see our approach to how to effectively and how easy it is to use it.
Using a CMYK and multi-channel RIP
There are many companies offering this kind of RIP. A multi-channel RIP means that it controls more color channels than CMYK, such as orange and green. For textile and fine art printing you may want to control more colors than just orange and green. Light colors are not multi-channel. They are blended as part of the dark value.
Too many RIPs focus on layout features and not ink control. Our Symphonic Evolution offers significant ink controls that when applied to Symphonic inks results in the ultimate of depth of color and superior detail. When you visit our Symphonic Evolution page you will see all the benefits of the software.
In order to master such a RIP you need to commit time for learning. Read Ed Loadings commentary about our technology.