Rods and Cones Blog

Welcome to the Rods and Cones blog. We reserve this space to honor extraordinary artists, and to offer as much information about our industries as possible. Please send us feedback anytime.

Featured Artist: Alain De Borger, Belgian photographer of reality

September 27, 2019

Alain De Borger seeks out the most innocuous scene and makes it into a glorified landscape. People become beautiful in his pictures. He lives his work.
“Since the beginning with Agfa IsoRapid and its development curve, to today, my work is varied. In spite of many detours, it remains close to the documentary or, vital to me, a connection to reality.”
We are proud to display his work.

To see more of Alain’s work:

Softproofing: Largely ignored in spite of being very accurate, softproofing is poised to finally enter the mainstream.

June 20, 2019

Softproofing is the natural transition from paper proofs to digital proofs. Today, we use a color-managed inkjet printer with a RIP to print contract proofs. The technology is mature and the proofs are close to perfect, not only for color but also in terms of what a specific press can do. Hardproofing is ideal and preferred for many environments, particularly in settings where the brand owner and team is synched with preferred vendors.

Other environments would benefit from a digital system that eliminates mirrored hardware and software systems, fosters real time dialogue from client to pressman, facilitates interaction between remote locations. That’s what softproofing brings to the table.

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We have worked for years with Remote Director, a Californian company devoted to the development of digital proofing. We asked Dan Caldwell, president of Remote Director,  to tell us the current status of this interesting but often misunderstood technology.

Remote Director is a unique display-based proofing solution that pairs Remote Director Client with a Proof Server.

It’s the brand that sets the parameters for color as the files are added. Profiles, CxF data, various queues, are entered in the server and integrated in the solution. When the file is opened on the Client application, the correct profiles are automatically applied and the user can see a proof as accurately on the monitor as if it had been printed. The monitor, you might think, could be uncalibrated or too old. How can you guarantee that the image is viewed correctly? In order to view the proof, Remote Director requires that the user calibrate his or her monitor with the included calibration module, subjecting it to a pass/fail score.

Pairing Remote Director with JUST Normlicht professional lighting

On press, Remote Director is used to view a sheet against a soft proof. To eliminate discrepancies between the luminance of the screen with the lighting of the booth, Remote Director includes drivers that automatically set the luminance of the viewing lights to match the display. To measure spot color on a running press, Remote Director is now working with LithoFlash. The LithoFlash readings, applied to a clone of the file on screen  allows the client to visualize  variations between the proof and the press.

In addition to all the normal mark up and approval tools, Remote Director provides unique tools for critical color work. Any file can be “cloned” to show two print conditions side by side. For instance, you can assign different spot colors to the channels, or different profiles. You can compare papers, dot gain curves or any combination of these settings. It gives the user the ability to make an informed choice that cannot be made with inkjet proofing.

Remote Director can be used from “Think to Ink” whenever and wherever proofing is required. From the photo shoot to press, or to the Internet. And when a hard copy proof is required, any user (with permission) can print to a profiled device and expect a match between proof and display.

A veteran of softproofing

Remote Director is the standard for softproofing because they have been at it, researching and developing this technology for fifteen years. They evolve to meet the ever changing needs of the industry. For example, the current development allows the proof to be viewed in a 3D environment when ambient light can reflect off varnishes and metallics. Other softproofing products are Kodak Virtual Matchprint, which is no longer supported, and Dalim (providing that you use their Enterprise Solutions workflow.)

Remote Director has an impressive array of clients and users such as Schawk!, Phototype, Associated News, Bauer Publishing, Time Inc., Kelloggs, Campbell, and many others.


How are different printing processes matched via G7?

(Written for Out of Chaos Magazine by Kevin O’Connor. Read the full article here)

February 05, 2018 

G7’s success was so spectacular for GRACoL workflows, that G7 methods were tested on other workflows such as SWOP. Managing gray so carefully paid dividends in SWOP workflows and in other workflows as they were tested. Today, a series of printing conditions has been defined in a new standard, CGATS 21-2 (ISO PAS 15339). This family of print conditions, referred to as the CRPC1-7,  has seven categories, each with its own reference data set. All of them share a visual appearance because they’re all based on G7 neutral gray appearance.

These seven sets are called:


Typical ColdsetNews – Small gamut printing (newsprint)

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Typical HeatsetNews Moderate gamut printing on improved newsprint type paper


Typical PremUncoated Utility printing on a matte, uncoated type paper


Typical SuperCal General printing on super-calendared paper


Typical PubCoated Typical publication printing


Typical PremCoated Large gamut (typically commercial) printing


Typical Extra Large Extra-large gamut printing processes

In the map shown next page, the innermost outline shows the gamut outline for ISO15339-CRPC1, which defines color for a newspaper printed without heat-drying the inks. The rest grow outward, with ISO15339-CRPC7, an extra, extra large gamut process being the biggest. In the second image, comparing the biggest and smallest 3D versions, there’s quite a difference in total color printable, but applying G7 to both processes provides the best possible visual match for the two processes.


About GRACoL7

February 05, 2018 

1. What is the difference between GRACoL, GRACoL7, and G7?

  • GRACoL is a set of specifications for commercial printing developed by the GRACoL committee, a member of IDEAlliance
  • GRACoL7 is the latest version of these guidelines
  • And G7 is the methodology used to meet these specifications

2. What is a traditional press standard based on?

  • SID (Solid Ink Density)
  • TVI (Tone Value Increase or Dot Gain)
  • Wet ink trap
  • Print Contrast

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3. What are the limitations of traditional press control?

  • SID specifications do not reflect an individual press’ capability
  • TVI is set to different values for different printing processes (i.e. sheetfed, web, newsprint)
  • TVI and SID do not define the appearance of color on press

4. What are the advantages of the G7 method?

  • G7 measures substrates and colorants using colorimetry rather than density
  • It uses gray balance as the primary control measurement
  • It establishes a Neutral Print Density Curve (NPDC) as a target for the reproduction of highlights and shadows
  • Although they remain important metrics, SID and TVI are no longer the primary process controls

5. Why is Gray Balance important in evaluating a press sheet?

Because when neutrality is defined and maintained, color will usually look correct and stay consistent through a press run

6. Why is it better to use colorimetry than density?

  • Because colorimetry considers color and color balance rather than the weight of ink on paper
  • And because it gives the ability to define the appearance of color and to monitor color change

7. What is a Neutral Print Density Curve (NPDC)?

  • NPDC is a target curve defined along the entire tonal range. GRACoL7 defines a specific NPDC curve that allows the press to run to its natural tendencies, using plate compensation curves to correct for unwanted behavior.
  • It uses the entire tonal range not just the traditional TVI 25%, 50%, and 75% values, giving you the entire shape of a curve, from highlight to shadow

8. How is Highlight Range (HR) used for process control?

  • As a quick check to visually compare a 50/40/40 CMY patch to a 50K patch
  • As an additional checkpoint, to check gray balance in the 50/40/40 CMY patch
  • And to monitor the TVI of the press run

9. What are the benefits of the G7 method? They are:

  • Faster make-readies because the press operator can quickly determine the ink balance on the sheet using neutral and black patches
  • Better control on press because G7 uses colorimetry
  • Gray-balanced plate curves improves the press’ ability to print neutral through the whole tonal range

10. Am I a good candidate to switch to G7?

  • Yes, if your color make-ready is taking longer than you’d like
  • And if you want to spend less time measuring press sheets
  • Also if your customers complain about the quality and the consistency of your color
  • Or if you need to match color appearance across multiple presses or press types.


Print to digital: how to get a piece of that pie.

Historically, assuming you can call a span of five years history, printers have not been considered a source for digital publishing. Rather, the meteoric rise of tablets and smart phones, and the adoption of tablets in business, worry printers because digital may one day replace paper and printers. We hear it all the time, print is dead. Of course, that will never be but it is undeniable that print is changing, and we have to change with it.

A natural addition for printers is to offer their clients an interactive version of the piece they just printed. More and more content creators are shopping for resources to create digital and print versions of their work, and they turn to agencies that specialize in publishing content to apps. Why not be that agency? With a ready-made client base and content, what can be more natural?