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Developed by Idealliance, the G7® method is a process and a set of color specifications that help ensure consistent and accurate color reproduction in the printing industry. G7® methodology has become widespread in the printing industry, allowing print service providers to deliver high-quality printed materials that match the customer’s expectations.
Unlike other print specifications, G7® methodology is technology and process-agnostic, specifying requirements for print color that can be applied to any printing technology, substrate, or ink set. G7® methodology provides a common language allowing printers, print buyers, and designers to communicate about color more accurately and consistently.
This article will discuss the G7® compliance levels, how print providers can become G7® Qualified, and how to become G7® Certified Experts. We will also explore the importance of G7® methodology in the commercial printing industry and the benefits of achieving G7® compliance levels.
G7® methodology defines gray balance and tonality relative to paper or substrate color in the printing process. The goal of G7® alignment is to create a common visual appearance regardless of the substrate color or its saturation.
Idealliance’s G7® methodology has become widely used in the printing industry, allowing print service providers to deliver high-quality printed materials that match the customer’s expectations. This saves time and money and ensures that the printed materials are produced according to the desired specifications.
The G7® method has brought an effective level of communication to the printing industry, providing a common language allowing printers, print buyers, and designers to communicate about color more accurately and consistently. It’s become the basis of GRACoL® Specifications, SWOP® Specifications, and the newer CGATS.21 suite of Reference Print Conditions.
The G7® method provides “recipes” for implementing ISO print standards resulting in a match from proof to press, ensuring appearance across devices, consistent hits on color targets, alignment across substrates and inks, and targets for gray balance and tonality.
Unlike other print specifications focusing on specific printing technologies or conditions, the G7® method is technology and process agnostic. G7® methodology specifies requirements for print color that can be applied to any printing technology, substrate, or ink set. This flexibility allows print providers to achieve G7® compliance using various printing methods and equipment. G7® methodology can also be combined with ICC color management for color matches that are more accurate than tone curves alone can provide.
Critical elements of the G7® method are tonality and gray balance. Tonality refers to the range of shades and tones of a particular color. G7® methodology ensures that tonality is consistent across all printed materials, producing accurate and consistent color reproduction. Gray balance refers to the even distribution of color in the grayscale range. The G7® method produces a grayscale that is neutral, with no color cast or tint, resulting in crisp, clear, and well-defined images.
G7® calibration ultimately leads to greater accuracy, repeatability, and pleasing images.
G7® methodology has become an essential process in the commercial printing industry, as it helps maintain customers’ brands, reduce waste, and improve press efficiency and sustainability practices. G7® methodology is an internationally recognized process that ensures consistent and accurate color reproduction across all printing technologies and substrates.
The G7® method is essential in the commercial printing industry because it helps ensure consistent and accurate color reproduction, maintains customers’ brands, builds brand loyalty, and promotes repeat business. G7® methodology also reduces paper waste and ink usage, saving companies money and promoting sustainability.
G7® Compliance Levels are measurable requirements for achieving consistent and accurate color reproduction in printing at a single print provider site. Idealliance G7® Master Facility Qualifications is a three-level program for one physical location. Printing companies, creative and premedia producers, or other graphic solutions providers can achieve G7® Qualification. Idealliance’s G7® Qualification provides print providers with a predictable and repeatable printing process that meets customer expectations.
Below are the three Qualification Levels.
G7® Grayscale Compliance is the first level of G7® Compliance and focuses on achieving a neutral gray balance across all printed materials. Gray balance can help ensure that a shared visual appearance can be achieved based on the neutral tone ramp.
The specific requirements for achieving G7® Grayscale Compliance include
Achieving this fundamental level of G7® Compliance gives printers a method to achieve consistent visual appearance across technologies.
G7® Targeted Compliance builds on G7® Grayscale Compliance by adding solid ink measurements for primaries, secondaries (CMY and RGB), and substrate color. This intermediate level of compliance ensures that the primaries and secondaries are printed accurately, which is crucial for achieving consistent and accurate color reproduction.
G7® Targeted Compliance can be achieved according to the absolute white point or using the substrate-relative condition, which considers the characteristics of the substrate being printed on. G7® Targeted Compliance is not limited to only the reference print conditions in ISO 12647-2 or ISO PAS 15339.
The requirements for achieving G7® Targeted Compliance include
Achieving G7® Targeted compliance allows a facility to provide customers with higher consistency and accuracy.
G7® Colorspace Compliance is the highest level of G7® Compliance and includes all the requirements of the G7® Targeted level and Grayscale level. G7® Colorspace Compliance adds matching to an entire Reference Print Condition and demonstrates that a facility can achieve and maintain tight tolerances throughout the color space.
The G7® Colorspace level compares the entire IT8.7/5 target against the target color space, ensuring the average of all patches are within the narrow range of tolerances, with additional metrics for the 95th percentile of all patches in the target.
G7® Colorspace Compliance ensures that the printing system can consistently reproduce the entire color space, not just the primaries and secondaries (CMY and RGB). This level of compliance is particularly important for printing complex images, such as photographs or illustrations with a broad range of colors. G7® Colorspace Compliance is required for contract proofs.
The specific requirements for achieving G7® Colorspace Compliance include achieving both G7® Grayscale and Targeted Compliance, with additional accuracy metrics required for an average of all patches, 95th percentile patches, and maximum compared to the IT8.7/5 target values.
Facilities should take care when choosing which compliance level (Gray, Targeted, and Colorspace) they are looking to achieve for each printing process. Not all levels are achievable on every print process or technology — special allowances are permitted for flexography and screen printing processes, for example. Inability to initially meet the desired compliance level requires system re-alignment and re-submission of print samples and data.
To become a G7® Master Qualified Facility, a provider will go through four distinct steps, including hiring a G7® Expert as a consultant or having on staff a Certified G7® Expert; having the Expert conduct and review G7® calibrations and results; having the G7® Expert submit an application, print sample(s), and verification data to a 3rd party; and having the Qualification granted.
Qualifications are valid for a full year and must be renewed annually by a G7® Expert or G7® Professional. Third-Party G7® Experts may charge additional consulting fees.
The G7® Qualification Process can be completed in two ways.
To become G7® qualified, the print provider must first have a G7® Expert onsite to conduct and review calibration data and submit it to Idealliance, the organization that oversees the G7® qualification process. The G7® Expert will help the print provider understand and implement the G7® methodology and ensure the printing devices meet the G7® color space requirements. The Certified G7® Expert and at least one designated employee of the applicable print provider will also sign an affidavit attesting to documented tasks, accomplishments, understanding, and equipment related to G7® processes and compliance. Idealliance maintains a list of official G7® experts in this directory.
One way to obtain a G7® Certified Expert is to train an employee to become a G7® Certified Expert or Professional. This is a cost-effective solution for small to medium-sized print providers who do not have the budget to hire a full-time G7® Expert. The difference between a Professional and an Expert is that a G7® Professional must have a G7® Expert review and approve calibration data to finalize the process. Once a facility has trained its own G7® Professional, it can submit the annual review application without G7® expert review.
There are three compliance levels for G7® Qualification: Grayscale, Targeted, and Colorspace (we discussed these in-depth previously). Print providers should choose the compliance level that best suits their business needs.
For print providers who wish to tout expertise with a particular printing technology, prints and data for the following categories can be designated for compliance:
G7® Experts have demonstrated proficiency in the methodology and are certified by Idealliance, the organization that developed the G7® standard. It’s important to note the difference between a G7® Expert and a G7® Professional. Professionals are typically in-house quality/technical professionals utilizing the methodology, while G7® Experts have demonstrated expertise in the field of color management and have been certified by Idealliance.
Let’s look at how G7® Experts get certified:
To become a G7® Expert, candidates must complete a multi-day training course that covers the principles and practices of the G7® methodology, color management, device alignment, and standardization.
The course is designed to provide a thorough understanding of the G7® methodology and its practical application in a print production environment. Candidates must pass an exam at the end of the course to demonstrate their knowledge of the material.
Candidates should have at least one year of experience in a print production environment. This experience should include familiarity with color management software and measurement devices and an understanding the printing process and the variables that can affect color reproduction. G7® Experts are strongly encouraged to take the Color Management Professional® (CMP) Fundamental course in advance.
Candidates for G7® Expert certification typically have experience as press operators, pressroom supervisors or technicians, prepress supervisors or technicians, quality assurance managers, equipment or technology providers, or print, packaging, and color experts.
The assessment process for becoming a G7® Expert involves printing a series of test forms and measuring them using a spectrophotometer. The measurements are compared to the corresponding specifications, and the candidate must demonstrate that they can achieve the required level of accuracy.
The assessment is designed to evaluate the candidate’s ability to apply the principles of the G7® methodology in a practical setting. G7® Experts must achieve a minimum level of 80% efficiency.
Once a candidate has completed the training course, met the experience requirements, and passed the assessment, they become certified as a G7® Expert.
Expert Certification is valid for two years and allows the use of the G7® Expert logo on marketing materials and business cards. This logo signifies to clients and colleagues that the individual has demonstrated proficiency in the G7® methodology and is committed to achieving accurate and consistent color in their print production work.
To maintain their Certification, G7® Experts must recertify every two years by passing the assessment again. This ensures that their knowledge and skills remain current and that they continue to apply the G7® methodology correctly in their work. The recertification review and exam must occur within 90 days of the certification expiration.
G7® Experts are proven leaders in print production with demonstrable expertise in color management. Achieving this certification allows experts to consult on G7® Qualifications moving forward.
Fujifilm offers the opportunity to receive G7® Expert training at the Graphics Innovation Hub in Hanover Park, IL. You can learn more about the program here.
G7®, GRACoL®, SWOP®, and Color Management Professional® are registered trademarks of Idealliance.