Since #45 in December we have been discussing resolutions to improve the quality of your proofs. In order to gain the full benefit of this installment one should have read and implemented the suggestions in #46 & #47.
Proceeding forward it does not matter if you are utilizing a methodology like GRACoL G7, or a more traditional color management approach. In either case you will include a target on each print job with the same color bar swatches that you output on the proof (#46). This will allow you to measure the press ok sheets and compare them to the proofs, thus building even a larger statistical database to call upon.
When utilizing software like our ColorMetrix and ProofPass.com products for process control and print certification purposes it does not matter if you are using a methodology like G7 or traditional color management. While there are some new formulas out there to run the collected data through the tried and true colorimetric data (L*a*b* and derivatives along with some version of Delta E), do a great job comparing two similar or dissimilar imaging systems.
Unlike density and dot gain values which must be used with pigment sets designed for 4/color process printing, L*a*b* values allow the comparison of an inkjet proof and an offset press sheet. This is possible because we are looking at the actual colors, not values derived from a formula which assumes a certain pigment set.
Not only will you be comparing the measurements of the proof to the press sheet, but you will be building a history of what is a “normal” print condition of each press and paper combination. Some refer to this as finding the “sweet spot” of the printing press.
Overall, as your volume of collected data grows you will be able to refine the system in small steps by reviewing the proofing and press information both independently and together. Using numeric results, charts, and graphs you will be able to see small differences in color that can be adjusted for over time. No system is stable over time, so continuous monitoring is a must in order to maintain stable color.