The other day I had a press check on a job in which we needed to get as close to the provided sample as possible. The client had not even expressed that we needed to match the sample, primarily because they trusted that I would ensure that the color was close or consistent. When I was at press the presman had shifted the yellow up and taken out some magenta to get the colors as close as – and I believed better than – the client sample.
To me, after 30-plus years in print, “seeing” color is still a mystery. Yet I’ve had the pleasure to work with pressman (and yes, it still is a male-dominated field) who understood how subtle shifts in color can make a world of difference. On the job I was press-checking, the pressman – by adding yellow and taking out magenta – had made a strawberry beverage “sparkle”, and the mint green beverage look more minty. Skin tones were correct, and the overall muddiness of the sample was gone.
Technology today allows us to laser-image the plates, to control ink disbursement in the rollers and paper manufacturing has taken out many of the issues on press that were common during my first years in print during the Reagan administration. But it has not diminished the skills required by pressmen to learn color, hone their craft, and become not only skill technical persons, but also retain that creative eye, so that color is to them a 2nd language.