Creating Color Definitions

Requires an additional license.

In GMG OpenColor, Separation Rules are used to define color separations for a fixed ink setup / ECG. The rules are basically a lookup table of input colors (spot colors) from the document and define how the input colors should be separated into the output inks of the separation target color space as defined in the project.

You can use the color definitions for multiple purposes:

  • For manual separations in any third-party application: Simply manually transfer percentage values from the Separation Rules to your image editor. You do not need to waste time playing around with different output ink configurations and percentage values anymore, but you can see right away the color definition that will provide the best match and the expected delta E.
  • For automatic or semi-automatic separations in the third party application PACKZ: PACKZ uses the Separation Rules as default settings for separations. You will still be able to finetune the separation in PACKZ, but the Separation Rules allow you to use consistent color definitions and to save time as you can reuse existing definitions.
  • For automatic separations in GMG ColorServer.
  • For statistical purposes, for example, to check the color match and look for out-of-gamut colors: You can export the color definition table and import it into a spread-sheet editor.

This video shows how you can define your spot colors in GMG OpenColor using Separation Rules. See how easily you can control the used color separations and other options. It also shows how you can apply the defined separations to your printing PDF, using GMG ColorServer, GMG ColorPlugin, or Hybrid PACKZ.

How does it work?

Per default, GMG OpenColor uses a best match algorithm for creating a color definition, that means, the application calculates the color definition with the lowest possible delta E (compared with the target values of the input colors). However, you can customize the separation rules to your needs, for example, you can remove inks with a very low percentage or limit the total number of inks used, or manually edit the percentage values.

Separation Rules dialog box.

The matrix shows the following values:

1 Input color (as it appears in the document you want to separate)
2 Output inks in percent (how the input color will be separated)
3 Target Mode (from the input project, see Correcting the Target Color and the Tone Value Curve) Use Absolute if the printed spot color should match the swatch book as closely as possible. Absolute is the best option for most applications.
4 Target Lab values (from the input project, how the input color would ideally be printed)
5 Current Lab values (actual printed color)
6 Delta E values (difference between the target color and the actual printed color)
7 Status of the color definition. When manually editing output inks, you will need to recalculate the color definition.

Color variant: You can add new color variants by clicking the Add Ink Variant button on the right side. In the example screenshot, a variant for PANTONE 228 C, which uses Violet and Yellow instead of CMK, has been created.

To remove an output ink from the separation, click the icon next to the percentage value in the list until the cross icon appears. The ink will not be used.

To enable the output ink again, click the icon until the gearwheel icon appears.

To enter a fixed percentage value for an output ink, click the icon until the edit icon appears. Enter a custom percentage value. This value will be used for the separation of the solid color.


You can click the Calculate button to start the calculation of new or edited color definitions (that are in status Pending Calculation). Colors in status Ready will not be recalculated.

You can change the calculation settings above the list, for example, the Max Number of Output Inks before starting a new calculation (see "Calculation settings"). These settings are applied only when a new calculation is started. Colors in status Ready will not be changed.

If you want to recalculate the entire color list, for example, because you changed a calculation option such as the number of output inks, you can reset the list by clicking the Reset Calculation button. Custom values will be preserved.

In the Separation Rules window, you will be notified if the separation rules are not synchronized with the input project, i.e. if input colors have been changed without recalculating the color list. The message Show Changes and the number of different input colors will be displayed (see "Changing colors").

You can click the Save data and jump to input project button to navigate directly to the input project to change the input colors.

You can export a Separation Rule as a .txt file to analyze it in a spreadsheet application such as Microsoft Excel, e.g. to detect "out of gamut" colors. You can export it as a db3 spot color database for use in GMG ColorServer.

You can click the Generate ColorBook button to create a ColorBook PDF and then print it directly on your press (see "Show the Full Potential of Your Press").

10 Ink priorities: The preference to use an output ink over the other is indicated by the order of sequence from left to right. You can change the ink priority by drag-and-drop. In the example screenshot, the CMYK inks have a higher priority than the additional inks. Of course, GMG OpenColor still prefers an ink with a lower priority if a better match with the target values can be found.

When saving Separation Rules, make sure that all color definitions are in status Ready. Otherwise, you will not be able to select or use the Separation Rules in PACKZ.

See also: