Link-o-lator Introduction

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What are ICC device links?

Link-o-lator is a software application for Mac OS 9 and OS X that creates high-end ICC device links. An ICC device link is a specialized ICC profile that contains two linked device profiles: a source device profile and a destination device profile. Link-o-lator connects the input side of a source profile with the output side of a destination profile.

Because an ICC device link bypasses the Lab profile connection space (PCS) and instead contains a direct connection between two color spaces (for example, CMYK to CMYK), Link-o-lator lets users control how pure color channel matching is performed. With Link-o-lator you get all the benefits of ICCbased color matching while retaining the ability to control the way pure colorants and spot colors are handled in high-end digital dot proofs, or optimizing the output on ink-jet proofers.

What are the advantages of ICC device links?

Centralized Expertise. By creating links one expert operator can specify the source and destination profiles, CMM, rendering intents and many other aspects of color matching. These settings are stored in a Left Dakota ICC link and are made active by activating the link — which makes for a workflow less prone to error.

Ease of use. Because many settings are built-in to Link-o-lator-generated device links (both the source and destination profile, rendering intent, etc.), less experienced users don’t need to keep track of multiple files or worry about accidentally transposing a source profile for a destination profile. Likewise, because rendering intent is built-in to the link, you don’t have to worry that the wrong rendering intent might be chosen in your RIP.

Control. Link-o-lator links can correct problems that occur in standard profile-to-profile color management. Because Link-o-lator can exercise discrete channel control, it is able to rewrite individual color channel information, allowing you to specify exactly how each pure color will behave — independently from the way all the other colors are handled.

Better, consistent, predictable color matching across multiple platforms. Running an ICC profile on a Macintosh and a PC yields different results. This is often because the CMM on each platform is different and calculates color through L*A*B* differently. If, however, you use a device link, the calculation through L*A*B* occurs on the machine making the link (using a user-chosen CMM with userdefined settings). The result is that almost all required calculations are already completed and included in the finished link and, therefore, use of the link produces much more consistent color across platforms with different CMMs.

What are “pure colorants”?

Pure colorants are the individual colors, or channels, that make up a digital file. For example, the cyan pixel in a CMYK file (if that pixel contained no other colors) would be considered a pure cyan pixel, or a pure color(ant). It would still be considered a pure color even if it were scaled back to 50% intensity. This is because even though the overall saturation, or brightness, of the colorant is only 50% intensity, it still contains only cyan.

Black is the most common pure color in the world of print publishing. Pure-black is most often used for printing text, and many designers add black-only drop shadows behind silhouetted objects.

Black-only drop shadows are preferable to four-color shadows because:

  1. A drop shadow that is black-only uses about a third less ink as a four-color drop shadow. If you print large quantities of publications with many drop shadows and similar effects, printing black only instead of four-color can reduce ink costs.
  2. Black-only drop shadows are extremely color-neutral, whereas four-color drop shadows can have a undesired color cast if they’re not printed perfectly. And even if press plates are created perfectly, should one press plate go out of alignment (or if the pressman doesn’t run all plates to their correct density), a four-color drop shadow will acquire a color cast. Because no other colorants are used, black-only drop shadows will not have a cast when printed.
  3. Depending on the dot angle used, a distracting halftone pattern can occur in four-color shaded areas, but if you create black-only shadows, patterns do not occur (because different-colored dots on different angles don’t intersect) and shaded areas will look smooth and even.

What applications support ICC device links?

Workflow Products

Dot Proofing Systems

High-end Inkjet RIPS

Return to Left Dakota Link-o-later Manual

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