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Siciliana 10-26-2011 01:33 AM

Color matching process/tutorial/guidelines
I am wondering if anyone has anything to offer on the workflow for matching color in high quality product retouching. I have not worked in this environment but would like to know something about it. For example, say I am retouching a white tennis show and I am supposed to make a version of the same shoe in a purple and a green and a blue. What is the general system for matching colors in a professional environment? If there are swatches of fabric for reference, how do these get translated into RGB, CMYK or LAB values? Are pantone values typically provided for samples? Or are these samples scanned by some kind of machine to read the color, or do the artists simply compare to pantone swatches with their own eyes under neutral lighting. I am totally ignorant about this process but I know it is a significant part of digital imaging work in the commercial realm. I just don't really want to take a job at The Gap in order to learn how it is done. Can someone who works in the field please reveal their workflow?

After I know the values of the specific color I should match to, apart from reading the info palette as I retouch, what specific techniques for overlaying color are typically used?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

edgework 10-26-2011 09:48 AM

Re: Color matching process/tutorial/guidelines
If you have the actual product to match in front of you, Pantone swatches are a good place to start. Depending on whether you're going to print or web, you can use the process swatches or the standard PMS swatches. Riffle through them till you find one that's close, and use that as your base.

I find that a gradient map is the most reliable tool, particularly if the color shift is to a lighter or darker color. Curves aren't your best bet since the highlight and shadow tones will not only vary in value, but will also be less saturated, which gets tricky with curves. With a gradient map, you can keep your tones in the same hue and easily rework value and saturation, then with slide them up and down until you have a good fit with the profile of the original image.

After that, you should be close enough to effectively tweak with curves.

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