Should I ask to see loose color proofs of the scanned images I supply to my print supplier?

Answered by Eric Newmann, Assistant Product Manager, Enovation Graphic Systems, Inc.

Flatbed scanners have sure come a long way. If I am providing my own hi-res scans to my print suppliers, should I ask to see color proofs of my scanned images before I see a composed contract proof? Is this a waste of time and money or is it a valuable step?

Yes, you should definitely ask to see loose color proofs of the scans you supply to your printers but this has nothing to do with the quality of the scanner or the proofer. There are a number of variables. If you scanned CMYK, you were probably scanning for a particular target output (SWOP, GRACOL, SNAP or a particular press/paper/ink combo). Unless you made sure to get the ICC profile from your printer of the above printing target (condition) AND were sure to use it in the RGB to CMYK conversion, you have very little assurance that "your" CMYK will match "their" CMYK.

However, let's take a more optimistic approach. If you provide RGB scans along with your scanner’s ICC profile to the print supplier and let them do the conversion using their CMYK output profile, it is safer to assume (if they are using ICC color management) that they will yield a CMYK file more accurate to their own printing conditions.

Whenever you do ask for a proof (whether it be comps or contract), make sure that the print supplier is properly using ICC profiles (and profiling their proofing device as well). The best bet is to let them either convert and proof it or to at least have them proof your CMYK and let you verify the colors are what you scanned or expected. It is true that proofing can be expensive (if there are multiple rounds), but it is only a waste of time and money if it is not done properly.
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