Every day, Graphic Display World receives press releases from manufacturers describing their latest products. One of those companies is Color-Logic. The Color-Logic products address metallic printing and embellishments—areas that are increasingly popular among designers. So, we decided we needed to learn more about Color-Logic and its products.
GDW: We see that Color-Logic is an American company specializing in software for producing metallics. Is your software available to printers beyond the United States?
C-L: Perhaps surprisingly, most Color-Logic sales, by far, are outside the US, and our software is used on every continent except Antarctica. And you should know that the Color-Logic software was developed in the UK, by an experienced prepress professional.
GDW: Tell us a bit about Color-Logic and how you came to focus on metallics, since that is a rather narrow portion of the printing market.
C-L: Color-Logic has been in business for more than twelve years, and our focus since we opened shop has been on simplifying the printing of metallics. The Color-Logic color system provides graphic designers and their printers with the ability to consistently and reliably print metallics—using either conventional CMYK inks or toners on metallic substrates or combining those same CMYK inks with metallic silver ink on traditional substrates. With metallics becoming ever more popular as brands compete for attention on the shelf, in their mailings, or with their signage and point-of-purchase materials, both printers and graphic designers face new challenges when it comes to preparing metallic files for print.
The many variables involved in printing—inks, substrates, processes (e.g., offset lithography, flexography, digital inkjet, digital toner, etc.), subtle differences between press manufacturers and how they electronically process files, even pressroom ambient conditions—make designing for metallics vastly more difficult than designing for a conventional CMYK job. The only metallic color guides commercially available (from Pantone™) are prepared using lithography, rendering them inadequate for jobs which will be printed digitally.
Color-Logic addresses the situation by putting the printer in control. The Color-Logic software—providing simple, but proprietary palettes, and a plug-in for Adobe Creative Suite—enables graphic designers or printer prepress personal to create foolproof files for metallic printing. But Color-Logic software is available only for sale by licensed printers, who then coordinate with outside designers who produce the metallic print files. To guide those designers, Color-Logic suggests that its licensed printers prepare their own swatchbooks that designers and their clients can use to select color combinations that the printers can accurately match.
GDW: What is so complex about metallics that necessitates special software?
C-L: Metallics are not as simple as it might seem. Designers generally are not taught much about different printing processes, and printing metallics with embellishments is usually not even discussed. In fact, graphic designers often steer clients away from metallics because of the difficulty involved in cutting the required masks. Printing images on metallic substrate, for example, involves masking out areas where metallics are not wanted, which essentially means having to think in reverse. And, since seeing white ink or toner on a white monitor is impossible, designers preparing metallic files must tint the white to another color, like pink or blue, just to see their work, which means designers must think in the wrong color when preparing masks. For complex images, preparing masks is hard, tedious work that can take hours. And since designers typically invoice based on the hours a job takes, preparing metallic files often produces an exorbitant invoice that is likely to anger clients. Similarly, when metallic ink is to be used on a conventional substrate, an equally complex mask is required to define nonmetallic areas. The key to the popularity of Color-Logic software lies in the fact that creating complex masks requires only a few clicks of the designer’s mouse—saving hours for designers and money for clients.
GDW: Besides saving time cutting masks, anything else?
C-L: As a matter of fact, yes. The basic Color-Logic software enables graphic designers to create a variety of metallic special effects, including watermarking and gradations. And an additional feature, included in the premium versions of Color-Logic software, enables designers to visualize on their Macintosh monitor how their metallic embellishments will look when finally printed.
C-L: Yes, our more recent products are focused on making life even easier for graphic designers. Our Color-Logic Pattern-FX software provides designers with a portfolio of patterns they can use to quickly put down repetitive patterns as backgrounds for their work. Currently we have 100 patterns, and more are under development. And finally, our latest product—called Touch7—enables designers to quickly and effectively use the latest neon and fluorescent inks available on the newest digital presses. Touch7 is available directly from most of the press manufacturers. Digital press manufacturers see the Touch7 software as a great tool for taking advantage of their latest inks in a variety of print applciations. You may have seen the latest issue of the UK printing magazine Printing Solutions, which used Touch7 to prepare a bright pink front cover printed on a Xerox Iridesse press.
C-L: Yes. Digital and conventional print today can do things not even imaginable just a few years ago. Advancements are being made continuously in substrates, presses, printers, and coatings, and this is a very exciting time for print embellishment. At Color-Logic, we like to say All Print Starts With Design. Until designers, creatives, and the brands they serve not only know what is possible but know that the necessary software tools are available, adoption of print advancements will be quite slow. But Color-Logic and Touch7 continues to develop tools to assist designers and printers in economically adding the WOW factor, while reducing time to market.