The XCMYK Color Space
XCMYK is a new expanded-gamut printing method that yields a much wider color gamut than regular 4-color printing. The XCMYK color space is based on high-quality sheet-fed offset printing using standard ISO 12647-2 compliant CMYK inks run to higher than normal levels, with nontraditional screening (FM screening). The XCMYK color space can be reasonably approximated on any suitably-adjusted offset press and can be simulated on other printing systems with equal or greater native color gamut, by ICC methods.
XCMYK is part of Idealliance’s Expanded Gamut Project. The XCMYK research was conducted by the GRACoL Committee over a 15-month period in 2015-2016, and involved 26 test runs.
Below you can see the FOGRA39 gamut and the XCMYK gamut:
And here a comparison (3D and 2D) of both color spaces:
The Customer: Marta Bretó
Marta Bretó is a professional nature photographer and mountain guide specialized in astrophotography. She provides courses and workshops in private and public institutions such as Nikon School and the Center for Imaging and Multimedia Technology in the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. She also works as a guide in photography trips with Australphoto agency, where she is responsible for guiding photographic tours through Iceland and Scotland. She is member of the Catalan Society of Nature Photographers and collaborates with associations and entities related to photography and nature, its preservation and dissemination.
Marta has participated in group exhibitions and has carried out a number of own projects such as Sideral, Aurora Borealis, 66°N: The Arctic as you’ve never seen it before and Del Congost a la Calma, a project that also consists of a book of photographs of which she is also the author. She has a photographic archive of over 100,000 images of nature on various topics, locations and species which is constantly growing up.
This book is the result of almost 10 years photographing the sky. It is a book about the stars through the eyes of photography, science, nature and myths. A book for anyone who loves gazing to the sky. From the stars and constellations to the magnificent Milky Way. From the movements of our satellite to phenomena such as eclipse, comets and Northern Lights: Sideral is a passionate trip through time and the magic of night with the stars as our companions.
The book is also full of adventures and personal experiences. Each photograph goes with its description, which can be an astronomical explanation, a photographic technique, a composition speech or even a personal story. Also, for the joy of photographers, all technical settings such as shutter speed, aperture, camera and lenses, are shown on every image of the book.
Why we decided to use advanced printing techniques on this book
We are not talking about an average customer here. Marta was working on her book, and she took the phone last summer and called SYL because she was having “some problems” when converting her original images to CMYK. The problem is a well-known problem in the printer’s CMYK ecosystem, when someone like Marta –a professional nature photographer– realizes how much some colors change when doing this kind of conversions. Indeed, she asked if we could print with more than four inks (Hexachrome), adding extra hues to the ink set in order to retain the maximum gamut of the original image, but that would be quite more expensive and to be honest, much more complicated than printing with the four-process colors only.
Then we explained her that we could try something new, something we had never done before, and we pointed her to the XCMYK expanded-gamut printing method.
Marta downloaded the ICC profile from the Idealliance website and she was happy to see that using this profile her images will look more real. Next steps were to engage the managers of the company and explain them what we wanted to accomplish. We all agreed we wanted to see how far we could go. Marta supplied to us some of her images with the XCMYK 2017 color space and then we used the same profile in our inkjet contract proofing system in order to simulate the printed results. Some days later we also made a real test on press, just to evaluate if we could reach the colorimetric values of the reference with our ink set, and the first results were very promising.
The files for production were created with Adobe InDesign. They were CMYK only, standard PDF/X-4 with the XCMYK 2017 Output Intent.
- More about the author: www.martabreto.com
- Other resources/links: https://martabreto.com/sideral-historia-de-un-proyecto/
- What other people say… El Blog de Hugo Rodríguez: http://www.hugorodriguez.com/blog/2017/11/xcmyk-una-impresion-sideral/
If you are a professional photographer who loves photography and quality printing as much as we do, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org / +34 934 800 801) and start working on the publication of your next work.