Modern Softproofing Systems like Spectraproof can display Spot Colours like PANTONE, HKS etc. accurately. This Softproof System has for example has the ability to work with precise spectral math and prediction for spot colors. Measured or synthesized spectral color channels are layered in SpectraProof on top of CMYK or other color layers. SpectraProof calculates overprinting, etc. on a spectral basis. It thus provides an accurate spectral prediction of the printed result for any multicolor layout with spot colors.

Even ramps for spot colors can be either synthesized or spectrally measured within SpectraProof. This enhances the spectral prediction of the softproof.

N-Channel ICC profiles are used in color management to handle color reproduction in printing devices that utilize more than the standard CMYK ink channels. These profiles are essential for achieving accurate and extended gamut color output. They are especially valuable in commercial and packaging printing, where color fidelity is paramount.

SpectraProof can softproof any N-Channel ICC Profiles like FOGRA55 CMYKOGV ECG and accurately display the colors on the softproof-monitor. All channels can be validated in the Job validation.

Proper color management and calibration are critical in ECG printing to ensure that the desired colors are accurately reproduced. Especially with this relatively new printing concept, accurate softproofing with SpectraProof can save a lot of time an effort to achieve fast, accurate and colorful results in softproof and print.

In SpectraProof, you can not only measure the paper whites of substrates and have them simulated as modified paper whites in the softproof, but you can also easily use entire papers with their specific surfaces, such as kraft or cotton, linen papers with distinct surface textures, or recycled papers with their open surface, for a photo-realistic simulation.

You can easily scan new substrates and import them into SpectraProof as image files. Over time, you can build up a paper and substrate archive of the materials you use, which you can then use for colour-accurate simulation in SpectraProof.

Modern Softproofing Software like Spectraproof offers easy import of custom spot colours: Any CxF or CGATS file can be used to import measured spectral data into Spectraproof for precise spotcolor visualization. Or you can use the built-in measurement tool and directly measure spectral data in M0/M1/M2 mode in Spectraproof. All measured or imported spectral spot colors can be named and sorted into individual color libraries. These libraries can then be used in Spectraproof on a customer, project, printer, ink, or substrate scale.

Even ramps for all spot colors can be measured or imported in CxF or CGATS format.

Softproofs are powerful and with monitor validation and job validation facilitate even critical color accuracy. Furthermore, modern softproofing solutions like Spectraproof even can use images for the simulation of overlays like gold foiling etc., which would never work on a physical digital proof. On the other hand, the simulation of of a high amount of Optical Brightning Agents (OBAs) in a very white uncoated paper stock works best on a proofing paper containing a high amount of OBA as well. Thus, the decision for Softprofing or Hardcopy-Proofing (or both) depends on the project's requirements, print conditions, and the desired level of precision.

Monitor calibration involves adjusting color settings and output on a monitor to ensure accurate on-screen color representation. It is crucial for softproofing to maintain consistency between digital previews and the final printed output, minimizing color discrepancies. With modern softproofing solutions like Spectraproof, you can use a color measuring device as an i1Pro2 or MYIRO1 to calibrate your monitor within Spectraproof and validate your monitor afterwards for reliable and accurate softproofs.

Of course, softproofing requires a modern wide-gamut monitor that can be hardware calibrated for best display quality. If your monitor is only capable of displaying sRGB for example, it will not even be capable to cover typical color gamuts for coated paper like ISOCoatedV2, as sRGB has in the Cyan-area considerable shortcomings and is not even capable to accurately display a 100% Cyan in ISOCoatedV2. But many modern monitor solutions like e.g. EIZO, BENQ, NEC, Viewsonic can display +99% AdobeRGB and work excellent as softproofing monitors. For optimal softproofing comfort, you can add a calibratable normlight solution within your monitor booth to be able to check your print or hardcopy proof directly against your softproof on your monitor.

Soft proofing settings are typically found in design software under color management options. Configure settings based on the desired printing conditions, color profiles, and the specific requirements of the project. But please be aware, that design applications like InDesign or Photoshop offering a kind of software "softproof" are not in any way comparable to a professional softproofing solution like Spectraproof.

They might be able to display a image in RGB or CMYK color accurate for Photographers, but as they don't offer any Raster Image Processor (RIP) etc., they cannot be used for accuratel prepress and print softproofing with spot colours, 7C gamuts, overprinting, papertones, varnishings, foils and more.

Photoshop offers no validation at all, so what Photoshop calls a "softproof" cannot be compared to a "real softproof" with a specialized softproofing solution like Spectraproof.

Yes, CxF (Color Exchange Format) files can be used for softproofing spot colors. CxF is an XML-based file format developed by the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress (CIP4) organization. It is designed to exchange color information between different stages of the printing process.

For spot colors, CxF files can contain detailed spectral data, allowing for precise color descriptions beyond what is possible with traditional color models like RGB or CMYK. This spectral data includes information about how the color appears under various lighting conditions, making it particularly useful for accurate color communication in printing workflows.

Spectraproof is one of the few RIPs that can extract and softproof with the spectral CxF data that is either in the PDF or in a separate CxF or CGATS file. Of course, you can also measure any physical sample of a reference print or a fan deck directly in Spectraproof, store it and use it as the spotcolor definition for your softproof.

As Spectraproof is a software solution, you will first need some hardware for accurate softproofing:

  • A wide-gamut monitor that can pass calibration
  • controllable ambient light like D50 normlight, perhaps even within your monitor hood
  • a measuring device to calibrate, validate and measure colors like a X-Rite i1Pro2 or a KonicaMinolta MYIRO1

If you have these hardware requirements, the Spectraproof software will do the measuring, validating and softproofing for you. You can choose from three different versions of Spectraproof that you can either buy or rent for a reasonable price:

  • Spectraproof Professional which offers all features like 4C CMYK + Spotcolor Jobs, CxF4 an more
  • Spectraproof Standard which is perfect for 4C and 7C ECG users
  • Spectraproof Viewer for the accurate display of preconfigures Spectraproof Jobs

Softproofing CMYK-based artwork is well established. It works very well for paper-like substrates. The techniques also work for fully characterised content utilising RGB or Multicolour based reference printing conditions such as FOGRA58 (RGB) or FOGRA55 (CMYKOGV).

Spot colours, however, can challenge this process. The different nature of spot colours is reflected in different definitions like:

  • a single colourant, identified by name with the colour values specified in a colour coordinate system
  • specialised ink mixtures used to produce a specific colour in commercial printing
  • a non-process colour used in addition to, or instead of a process colour

Spectraproof can handle any spot colour definition. In Spectraproof, spot colors for softproofing can defined by:

  • LAB values that are assigned to the corresponding spot colour
  • Spectral CXF values imported from a file
  • Spectral values measured directly in Spectraproof with a attached device like an i1Pro2 or a KonicaMinolta MYIRO1
  • Spectral values imported with definition of measured individual tints/ramps of the spot colors on the substrate used
  • Spectral values imported with definition of measured individual tints/ramps of the spot colors on the substrate used PLUS tints/ramps against Black PLUS tints/ramps against a neutral grey. This is the best possible definition for optimal reproduction in Spectraproof.

Feel free to create any number of individual spot colour libraries in Spectraproof for your convenience, either on a customer basis or on for any of the spot colour systems used like Pantone, HKS, TOYO, DIC or open source systems like the freieFarbe CIELAB HLC Colour Atlas XL and many more.

No, unfortunately Adobe calls its CMYK Simulation of an RGB File "Softproof" as well, but of course, it is not a real softproof, but only a colour simulation without any control or verification like in real Softproofs like Spectraproof Softproofs.

Disadvantages of a Photoshop Softproof:

  • Due to its name ‘softproof’, the Photoshop softproof indicates that it really is a colour-binding softproof of a file on the monitor. Of course, this is by no means the case. Why? A Photoshop Softproof is not interested in whether the monitor is calibrated or has a completely green cast and is set up incorrectly. It does not know the monitor, so the softproof will only be reasonably consistent if the monitor is correctly calibrated.
  • An Adobe Photoshop Softproof cannot see whether colours are ‘in gamut’. Example: With a correctly calibrated monitor that can cover the sRGB colour space, a Cyan in ISOCoatedV2 colour space is far outside the displayable colour gamut. Photoshop does not care about this at all, it still displays a Photoshop "softproof", although this cannot be colour-accurate at all.
    Compared to a real softproof with a softproof software such as Spectraproof, a Photoshop softproof cannot take ambient light into account. Whether at 7 a.m. at sunrise, at 1 p.m. in full sun, in winter with clouds or at night with fluorescent light: Photoshop always shows a good Photoshop softproof on the same monitor, although a colour sample placed next to the monitor would always look different. With a real soft proof, the ambient light is of course also measured and adjusted so that a colour sample placed underneath looks identical to the soft proof on the monitor.
  • At present, Adobe Photoshop is only capable of displaying 4C CMYK or RGB colours correctly. Any Spot Colours, 7C Expanded Gamut Colours with CMYKOGV Colour Space, varnishes, foiling and even a paper with a structure like striped or paper with small inclusions cannot be displayed accurately with a Photoshop Softproof.

Therefore: A real Softproof is far more sophisticated than what Photoshop calls "Softproof".

  • A real Spectraproof Softproof is displayed colour accurate and is verified via measurement device to be colour-binding.
  • A Spectraproof Softproof can display PANTONE or other Spot Colours colour accurate by CGATS or CXF Data.
  • A Spectraproof Softproof can take the surrounding display light into account and measure norm light sources so that they match the monitor softproof perfecly.

Conlusion: There is no real "Softproof" in a Photoshop Softproof

The real soft proof measures and validates the monitor, the soft proof standard light and the file displayed via a softproof including spot colours. Spectraproof even validates any CMYK or spot colours displayed on the monitor, generates a report and thus proves the correct colour representation by means of an individual measurement result for the softproof, the monitor and the soft proof standard lighting.

Of course, a Photoshop Softproof can't do all of this, it merely displays a larger colour space for a smaller CMYK colour space. That is all. Therefore, it would actually be good if Photoshop would rename its ‘Photoshop Softproof’ to a kind of ‘CMYK colour space simulation’. Because what Photoshop can do doesn't really have much to do with a real softproof like Spectraproof Softproof Solution has to offer.

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