QuarkXPressâ„¢ 7 gives spiffy new color managment features, it’s said, but what if you’re still using V6.5? Here’s a basic guide to tide you over or introduce you, if you’ve never done it before.
Recently I had the opportunity to use an ICC profile for outputting a color PDF from Quark for use in a postcard mailing. Surprising as it was to me, it was the first time I’d had the call to use color managment in QuarkXPress 6.5. From being unaware of how to use it, it was actually rather easy to do, and here are the basics.
When, What, Why
Color management becomes important because not every deviceâ€“display or printâ€“will render the color you determine the way it will actually meant to be seen. The aim is that what you see is what you get.
For instance, say you’re running QuarkXPress 6.x on your trusty Mac, with an Apple Studio Display and an SooperDooperGrafic laser printer for proofs. If you simply use XPress without setting anything else up, you get Quark’s default versions of colors. With color management, however, you can tell Quark to display according to the qualities of your Studio Display, and you can tell Quark to map those colors appropriate to the output specifications of your SooperDooperGrafic laser.
You’ll want to use color management to view the colors as close to what they ought to actually look like for the device you’re using. That way, what you see is, as close as possible, what you get at output time.
Setting Up for Color
The setting up of Quark’s CMS in 6.x involve two main steps. In Quark, we found our CMS off by default, so we had to turn it on. Going to Preferences>Quark CMS, we were revealed the following pane (click to enlarge):
The QuarkXPress 6.5 Preferences open to the “QuarkCMS” pane. Checking the box at top enables CMS.
Since we’re looking at this from the perspective of the tyro, we’ll only go in as far as we had to to get our document printed for the target device.
What has to happen before anything else is that one must enable Quark CMS, and that’s done by checking the “Color Management Active” checkbox at the top of the pane, which activates the controls in that pane (when not active, all the controls are dimmed down and inaccessable). In Windows this is accomplished by choosing a Color Management Module (CMM) from the dropdown. Of course, as with every preference which is settable at both the document and the global level, setting the preference while no document is open dentermines the preference for the application whilst setting it with a document open sets it only for that document.
- The top part of the pane, Destination Profiles, governs control on output devices. The dropdowns here are simple and straightforward, allowing setting profiles for Monitor, Composite, and Separation output. Choose the extant profile that matches the need.
- The bottom part of the pane, Source Profiles, allows you to tell Quark how you want to see things, and specifies for solid colors as well as images. Of note here is the “Rendering Intent” pulldown, which allows fine-tuning of the render along Default, Perceptual, Relative and Abosolute Colorimetric, and Saturation modes along with the Profile Default. Finally, at the very bottom, the CMS allows you to simulate the color space in the display.
Quark’s ICC Profile manager (click to enlarge).
Part two of activating the CMS comes when using the Profile Manager. Found under the Utilities menu (Utilities>Profile Manager…) it allows control of which profiles are available as well as detemining where auxiliary profilesâ€“the ones the user collectsâ€“get stored.
The default storage space for Auxiliary profiles is in Macintosh HD/System/Library/ColorsSync/Profiles, in Win ME and before C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\COLOR, and Win 2000 and XT C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\COLOR, which is where all default ICC profiles are stored. The user can store the Auxiliary profiles they collect here, or create separate folders for separate jobs and clients. The Profile Manager is where this setting gets changed.
We are “Go” for Color
So, you’ve got CMS turned on, and you know what the Profile Manager is and how you could use it. What next?
The following example should demonstrate by example. Recently I found it necessary to design a postcard which was to be printed by a certain offsite printer. When the proof was delivered to us we found that the image was duller than we wanted. We were outputting from Quark with no CMS. The solution was to create output from Quark that understood the printer we were actually going to print from. The workflow was approximately as follows:
- First, we obtained the ICC profile for the printer from the service bureau, xeikon_test.icc. This is our Auxiliary profile.
- Next step was to install the profile. We could have put it in the system ICC folder with the rest of them, but chose not to; instead, we decided to keep it separate by creating an Auxiliary profile folder in (we used a Mac) /Applications/QuarkXPress/Auxiliary Profiles. After obtaining and unarchiving the ICC file, it was dropped into this folder.
- We next quit QuarkXPress and relaunched the Finder, in order to make the ICC profile visible to Quark. Restarting Quark and opening the Profile Manager we were able to find xeikon_test.icc in the profiles list; ticking the checkbox activated it for QuarkXPress.
Getting What You Want
After at last getting the ICC Profile into place and activated with Quark, using it is perhaps the simplest step of all: just choose the profile you want to use from the drop down list in the “Profiles” tab of the Print dialog output. If enabled by your printer description, you have a dialog which offers specifying the profile for either Separation or Composite output. If exporting a PDF, this query is available by clicking the “Options…” button in the PDF output dialog and choosing the “Profiles” tab.
ICC profiles and CMS are all about you accurately getting what you want, and QuarkXPress 6.x provides the basic tools you’ll need to approximate the results you want.