Contract proofing: why adopt the latest profiles?

Contract proofing

Jamie Robinson has been at f1 colour for 24 years, rising through the ranks to Managing Director. Over that time his passion for colour and accuracy has shown no sign of abating, often providing crash courses for production staff at publishers who want to learn more about the ‘dark arts’ of colour and profiling images for print.

Fogra profiles are used in the print industry to standardise colour accuracy and to gain ISO
accreditation. The chief aim is to achieve a result on a digital proof that can be matched, on press, anywhere that prints to the ISO 12647 family of printing standards.

As book publishers, you’ll be aware of Fogra 39 for coated and Fogra 47 for uncoated projects. They’ve been the go-to standards for a number of years, but there are now new – and vastly improved – kids on the block.

Fogra ( use data gleaned from a test chart printed on a printing press running to ISO standards. This data is then applied to certified proofing systems, so proofs can match that standard. And if the printer’s press is set up and run to ISO standards, a good match should be achieved between proof and printed article. That data is then used to create ICC profiles by The European Colour Initiative ( for use in the Adobe Creative Suite and most DTP software. The ECI publishes profiles created from this data and are commonly known as ISO Coated v2 300% or PSO Uncoated ISO12647.

The Fogra 39 data is made into an ICC profile called ISO Coated v2 or ISO Coated v2 300%, and the Fogra 47 data is made into an ICC profile called PSO Uncoated ISO12647. These are good standards, to a degree. However, Fogra 47, in particular, has its fair share of issues.

When these were developed, the papers used on press by Fogra had minimal Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs) in them. OBAs are used to make more economical white paper appear as bright as possible. They are added to the paper by the manufacturer and convert the invisible (to the human eye) UV light into the visible bluish spectrum, which allows the paper to reflect more light, making it brighter. Our vision adjusts for the increased amount of reflected light and sees it as white when, in fact, when measured, it’s actually a bluer colour.

In summary, the proof and press substrates (before any ink/toner is used) are visually very different. The profiling process adds yellow to try to neutralise the blueness of the paper. The result is a proof that measures correctly to the standard, but has a visually yellow cast (paper simulation).

I am sure you’ve all experienced Fogra 47-certified proofs having a strong yellow cast even though the paper the project is printing on is far whiter – this is a frustration shared by publishers and pre-press suppliers alike. Thankfully, Fogra have replacements for the older standards that have optical brighteners in mind, bringing them in-line with the most commonly used press papers.

Fogra 39 for coated printing is superseded by Fogra 51, and Fogra 47 for uncoated printing is superseded by Fogra 52.

With previous upgrades to proofing and profile standards, the change has been more straightforward: we all adopt the new settings and the printers follow suit. This change, however, has meant an overhaul of the technology used to validate the proofs for us at F1 Colour and of course, the new strains of proofing paper that match the press paper.

The result is far more accuracy than we’ve seen before, particularly on uncoated stock, and thankfully no more yellow casts!

f1 colour are BookMachine partners for BookMachine Unplugged. You can meet Jamie on 21st February at the first event of 2018 – The new rules for print production: smart, scalable and responsible. Click for tickets.

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