beginner color management assistance

i have worked in prepress for a quite a while but this is the first time i have been asked to create and institute a color management system. so… obviously i am needing a little help.
Here’s my deal:

  1. this is the main issue. the only this i have control over is the calibration of my monitor. i have neither input nor output devices under my control. I do have an ICC profile for one of my output devices, but there are several different devices. the one i have a profile for is a CMYK/inkjet process and the rest are multiple laser/RGB processes utilizing different papers and chemistry. the input will also have a huge variety of methods and profiles.

  2. i have a 17" HP L1706 LCD monitor with which i calibrate utilizing Monaco Optix XR Pro software and device package. however, if needed, i am able to purchase a moderately priced monitor that would be better suited for my purposes, if one does indeed exist. i have a pretty thorough ring-around set up for all of my output devices but it has not been implemented yet as i am not sure if this monitor is the one i will be using.

  3. my lighting situation is less than optimal: it is a flourescent office area with large windows letting in a lot of natural light. i do have a hood for my monitor and have been looking into getting color-corrected bulbs for the office so i’ll have close to one color temperature in my viewing conditions.

  4. i have not had many requests for soft proofing capabilities, but i would like to be able to offer a solution for that in the future. I will not be matching Pantones but my clients would like to have the ability to color correct skin tones to their liking before sending to press.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

See in-line responses below:

On Apr 30, 2007, at 9:21 AM, liz wrote:

So, do you consider the input and output device profiles that you will be using accurate? Who’s devices are these, yours or someone else’s? The output profile is very important for soft-proofing and has a direct impact on soft-proofing quality.

The top brand is an Eizo (<>), but LaCie and NEC are not too far behind. What size monitor do you want and what is your budget?

Your environment is going to be a big challenge. Light from windows influence viewing color, especially on LCD panels.Adding hi-grade flourescent bulbs without adjusting or compensating for ambient condition is probably counterproductive. Minimally you should have a monitor hood. You also need to reduce the ambient light impact. I would consider adding blinds. You can also consider painting walls a neutral gray. A viewing booth (with sidewalls) will also help to give you consistent proofing light temperature, but you still need to try to reduce the ambient impact on the proofs while under the lights. GTi and JUST Normlicht are two very good brands to look at.
Also, several monitor calibration and profiling products allow you to measure ambient light and balance your monitor against it. However, if the ambient light is variable during the day, this is difficult and probably impractical unless you canstabilize the ambient condition.

In order for soft-proofing to work, you need:
(1) An application that supports the bi-directional usage of profiles like Photoshop 6+,
(2) Quality profiles for monitor and output devices,
(3) Quality monitor (preferably commercial grade) that is stable & consistent between calibrations,
(4) A calibration and profiling product for your monitor,
(5) A monitor calibration maintenance cycle that makes sense (once a month minimally),
(6) Proper workflow (settings and decisions),
(7) Adequate testing time.

I’ll send along some free literature about color management to you directly. But feel free to contact me as well.

oRick Hatmaker, CHROMiX

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