Efficient Solutions for a Smooth Color Management Process



Jan-Peter Homann

HYBRID Software, with its PDF editor PACKZ and the prepress workflow CLOUDFLOW, is a major player in the production of packaging and labels. Part of Hybrid Software Group, its sister companies include Global Graphics (known for its RIP software), Meteor for controlling digital printing systems, Xitron workflow systems, and IC3D for virtual 3D mock-ups.

At the end of 2021, Hybrid Software Group PLC announced its acquisition of ColorLogic, a specialized provider of color management software. ColorLogic conducts a significant portion of its business with OEM solutions for color management in digital printing and prepress, and it also has its own products, including ColorAnt, CoPrA, and ZePrA, which are continuously developed. One and a half years after the acquisition of ColorLogic, the first fruits of the collaboration with HYBRID Software are now becoming apparent.

The graphic below impressively illustrates the interaction and synergies of the mentioned products.

Overview of ColorLogic and HYBRID Software products: In ColorAnt, measurement data are recorded, spot colors are imported as CxF, and everything is spectrally optimized. CoPrA calculates print and DeviceLink profiles from the measurement data according to ICC standards. In PACKZ, the profiles from CoPrA or spot colors are primarily used manually. ZePrA is used for the automatic optimization of PDF files and can be controlled by the CLOUDFLOW Colorspace Module. RIP curves for CLOUDFLOW can be imported from ColorAnt.

Measuring fingerprints is the basis for color management at HYBRID Software and ColorLogic. This measurement data is used for creating RIP compensation curves, ICC print profiles, and complex color transformations based on ICC DeviceLink profiles. In addition to the X-Rite iO3 measuring table, a wide range of other measuring instruments is supported.

ColorLogic ColorAnt with MeasureTool

ColorAnt and its MeasureTool are ColorLogic programs for capturing, optimizing, and editing spectral color data. This data can come from a variety of sources and can be prepared for various purposes. Applications for measurement data from ColorAnt include linearization/calibration of printing systems, profile creation for printing systems (CMYK + multicolor), the creation and optimization of complete spot color libraries, and the adoption of spectral data from color formulation.

ColorAnt supports a large number of color measurement devices on the market, including all X-Rite models for the graphic arts industry, as well as solutions from Techkon, Barbieri, and Konica Minolta. An integrated test chart generator addresses both linearization of RIP curves and the creation of profiling charts. In addition to capturing measurement data, ColorAnt has a powerful spectral model for processing spectral measurement data. This allows, for example, CxF data of spot colors to be imported into ColorAnt from color recipes and then included in existing measurement data. This means that individual channels can be replaced or supplemented by spot colors in CMYK or multicolor profiles. ColorAnt is also a tool for maintaining spot color libraries for specific applications, making them available for proofing, digital printing, as a reference for quality control, or for the calculation of multicolor profiles. When using a fixed color palette in digital or flexographic printing, complete CxF color libraries can be optimized for printing in ColorAnt. This includes metrological optimization and the use of a maximum of three color channels. For linearization or calibration of printing systems, ColorAnt calculates and exports compensation curves that can be loaded directly into the RIP. These enable adjustment of printing processes to specifications such as G7 or TVI values. Importing, optimizing, editing, and outputting spectral data in ColorAnt consistently work with open standardized file formats. Repro companies and printing houses can thus be sure that they can use their spectral data in all programs, including those from competitors like Esko or GMG.


CoPrA stands for Color Profiling Application and is used to generate or edit ICC profiles from measurement data. Thanks to ColorAnt, measurement data can come from a single printed measurement chart or from a combination of a printed test chart and spectral spot color libraries. This allows for an efficient integration of changing spot colors into color management, especially in packaging printing. ICC DeviceLink profiles represent a complete color transformation from a source to a target and are necessary for high-quality color transformations in print production. For example, when converting print data from an industry standard like Fogra39/ISOcoatedv2 to an in-house standard or when proofing an in-house standard on a specific proofing medium. CoPrA allows the optimization of such ICC DeviceLink profiles through iterative color measurements or editing via Photoshop for special applications. Since CoPrA consistently relies on the ICC standard, device and DeviceLink profiles can be directly used in all ICC-compatible application programs (e.g., Adobe CC or PACKZ and CLOUDFLOW by HYBRID Software). Since January 2023, PACKZ has expanded its support for multicolor profiles, allowing adjustments to be made directly in the editor, such as adapting print data to a CMYK+X channel printing. Thanks to the ICC standard, no additional programs are required.


ZePrA is ColorLogic’s PDF ColorServer. The software can be operated both as a standalone solution via hot folders and integrated into automated workflows, such as through CLI scripts (Command Line Interface) or JSON into self-programmed printing platforms or Enfocus Switch. With the release of version 11 in May 2023, it can form an integrated solution with CLOUDFLOW using the Colorspace Module. ZePrA offers a wide range of tools to automate special tasks. This includes the integration of optimized spot color libraries for special applications, color management with on-the-fly calculation of DeviceLink color profiles, minimization of color channels used when printing with CMYK+X colors, or optimizing ink consumption.

In addition, ZePrA can be used to configure proofing workflows where control strips are automatically placed, which can also include the spot colors of the respective print job. PantoneLive is available as an option, and for digital printing systems, calibration according to G7 or ISO 20654 can be performed through ZePrA if needed.

“The integration of ColorLogic’s high-end color management technology into our solutions is a smooth process because both companies have open data formats such as PDF, ICC, and CxF in their DNA. Customers who are already using the new products are very excited about the quality and productivity they bring to their processes.” – Joris Verbouwe, Product Manager, Color Technology HYBRID Software

PACKZ in conjunction with ColorAnt and CoPrA

PACKZ analyzes, edits, and prepares PDF print data. In conjunction with ColorAnt and CoPrA, complex color optimizations can be quickly made in PACKZ. This allows CMYK PDF data to be optimized in a few steps so that the color impression is maintained as best as possible, even when printing with red instead of magenta. To achieve this, the CMYK measurement data of the color profile in ColorAnt is first replaced with red instead of magenta. Subsequently, CoPrA calculates a DeviceLink profile that describes the conversion from CMYK to CYK+red and adheres to important specifications, such as ensuring that pure black tones remain pure and do not become multicolored, as typically occurs with ICC color transformations. With this CoPrA DeviceLink profile, the entire PDF file can now be converted to CYK+red in one go in PACKZ. Another option is optimizing complete CxF spot color libraries in ColorAnt for a given output profile (CMYK or multicolor). The optimized spot color library uses a maximum of three output channels for each color and avoids color values, such as 0 – 3%, in a single channel. The optimized spot color library can be transferred to PACKZ in CxF format and is then available as a colorbook.

CLOUDFLOW in conjunction with ColorAnt and ZePrA

CLOUDFLOW includes a RIP for converting PDF data into raster data for creating printing plates or for controlling digital printing systems. In addition, it is an automation platform that can import calculation data from MIS systems to automatically configure the RIP for printing form creation. ColorAnt can be used in conjunction with CLOUDFLOW to create calibration curves for flexographic or digital printing processes according to industry standards such as G7 or ISO 20654. In this case, an integrated test form is first calculated for RIP calibration curves and profiling charts. The calibration file for the RIP is calculated first within ColorAnt. Then, the measurement data of the profiling chart is optimized to represent the print, including the RIP calibration curve. If a fixed color palette is used in flexographic or digital printing, data checking and optimization can be automated in CLOUDFLOW, dynamically controlled using the CLOUDFLOW Colorspace Module for the best possible color transformations. This includes an automatic analysis (with soft proofing and approval) to determine if jobs can be printed with the fixed color palette with as few colors as possible.


The market for prepress workflows, proofing, and color management in packaging printing is highly competitive. The Danaher Group, in partnership with Esko, X-Rite, and Pantone, is very strong in the field of color in packaging printing. GMG is a leader in the field of proofing in packaging printing and is also highly present in the area of PDF color servers. HYBRID Software and ColorLogic differentiate themselves from Esko, X-Rite, and Pantone by supporting a significantly broader range of measuring devices and by consistently supporting open standards, especially for spot colors.

However, the entire range of X-Rite measuring devices or PantoneLive can also be used if necessary. Currently, there is no equivalent to X-Rite ColorCert for quality control and color communication with brand owners in the HYBRID Software / ColorLogic portfolio. However, this can be realized through the use of third-party solutions like MeasureColor or Flexicon Inkpilot and others.

With the optimization of proof DeviceLink profiles in CoPrA, including multicolor support and the handling of control strips for job-specific spot colors in ZePrA, high-quality digital proofing for special applications is possible. However, complete integration into Epson printers, including the use of Epson inline measuring devices and pre-configured proofing media, is not available. For standard proofing in packaging printing, HYBRID Software/ColorLogic are not an alternative to GMG. Specific tasks, such as adapting digital printing systems to flexographic printing and optional proof output in digital printing, can be effectively accomplished with HYBRID Software/ColorLogic. Technologically, HYBRID Software/ColorLogic now compete in the same league as Esko/X-Rite/Pantone and GMG.

It remains to be seen how quickly this can also be implemented in consulting and services for major brand owners, repro companies, and printing houses. The strengths of HYBRID Software/ColorLogic solutions are seen in printing houses and repro companies that produce both analog and digital output, place value on open standards for color profiles and spot colors, and have good in-house expertise in color management, standardization, and automation.

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