June 2016

Accurate Color Communication (ISO 3664-2009)

After an integrated team of experts carefully crafts your color proof, you confidently overnight it to your client. The next day, you received a frantic call complaining that the proof color looked horrible, that all the colors looked too red, you think… what went wrong? Somewhere, there was a breakdown in communication about color.

After some research, however, you discover your client was viewing the proof under an incandescent light source, so it comes as no surprise that they complained about color. Color communication cannot be accurate unless they view proofs in the same lighting conditions as you and your team.

Left to right:  Store light (cool white), Light booth/D50, Home light (incandescent)


“Metamerism is the phenomenon wherein two colored samples will appear to be of the same shade under one light source but will appear to be different shades under a second source. For example, your slacks and socks might match well at home under incandescent light but may not be a suitable match under the fluorescent lighting at the office.”

When corporate colors and critical color must be communicated to clients, and lighting conditions are not controlled, a metameric mismatch may occur.

ISO Viewing Booth Standards

How do we ensure that our color intent is accurately communicated to artists, clients, printers and others involved in the decision-making process? By using a set of standard viewing parameters.

The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has created standard 3664-2009, which has become the international standard for our industry. When we all use lighting that conforms to this standard, we ensure that our color intent is communicated clearly and accurately to our clients. ISO defines lighting through measurement of the visible lighting spectrum, and has developed a testing method to determine if lighting falls within this definition.

The Color Production team at Phototype utilizes a spectrometer and specialty software to determine if our viewing booths are compliant with ISO 3664-2009. Tolerances for lux, chromaticity error, color rendering index and metamerism must be met before certification is awarded. All of our light booths — in Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Appleton, WI; and Dallas, TX — have been certified. Each light booth now includes a detailed ISO report as well as certification document. 

Phototype is a 4th-generation, family-owned company that provides fully integrated graphic solutions to the consumer packaged goods (CPG), medical/pharma, retail, printing and converting industries. To learn more, contact us.