Even if you only output black and white to your laser engraver, it is extremely important to use the right colors and the right color management settings. Yes, there are different mixtures of black, white and every other color. In this tutorial, I'll go over the proper color management settings for the most common workflows for awards shops and we'll talk about ways to easily convert between colors (including black).
Color Management Settings
Color management is one of those topics that is often ignored by users because they feel it is too confusing. For those of you who do laser engraving, you may feel it isn't important to you. It is important for all users and it doesn't have to be difficult or confusing. You can get it set up for your needs in five minutes or less and never have to touch it again!
Now in order to make it easy and fast, it is extremely important that you are using CorelDRAW X5 or later. Corel made major changes (and huge improvements) to color management starting with CorelDRAW X5. Those of you who hesitate to upgrade should get current
and take advantage of the many improvements, including color management. I cannot give an easy color management answer to users of the older versions as they don't exist. Keep in mind that CorelDRAW X4 has past its sixth birthday and that is ancient in the world of software!
The key is setting up the proper color management defaults and I'm going to give you the exact settings to choose. Select Tools | Color Management | Default Settings
and you'll get a dialog box full of settings that you may not understand. I cover them all in detail in CorelDRAW X6 Unleashed
(as well as the rest of the features in CorelDRAW) if you want a detailed explanation. For now, you'll simply want to choose the settings to match those shown in Figure 1 if you are using a laser engraver or Figure 2 for those using an ink jet, color laser or sublimation printer.
Figure 1: Default Color Management Settings suggested for a laser engraver.
Figure 2: Default Color Management Settings suggested for an inkjet, color laser or sublimation printer.
There is no way for me to say these are the perfect settings for all of you, but they are better than just using the generic defaults as they will give you more accurate color and color conversions. After selecting the choices I've shown, click the save icon just to the right of the Presets list and save the settings using the names as I've shown in my dialog boxes. This makes it easy to choose these settings in the future. I would also suggest you discuss the proper settings with the manufacturer of your device, though don't be shocked if they don't have experience with these color management settings and have no suggestions.
Find and Replace
A common situation you'll face in CorelDRAW will be using a file with objects either filled or outlined by a color that you want to switch to another color. The Find and Replace feature comes to your rescue and makes it easy to change even thousands of objects at once. While the feature exists in older versions, it gained an eyedropper in CorelDRAW X5 that makes it much easier to select the exact color you want to find.
To bring up the Find and Replace wizard, select Edit | Find and Replace | Replace Objects
and you'll get the dialog box shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Replace Wizard dialog box is the starting point for different find and replace tasks.
For the situation described above when you simply need to change one color to another, choose the top option labeled "Replace a color" and press the Next button. This brings you to the dialog box in Figure 4. Choose the color you want to find and its replacement with the two color selectors at the top of the dialog box. As mentioned earlier, newer versions of a CorelDRAW include an eyedropper making it easy to click on an object with the desired color in your drawing.
Figure 4: Replace a color in the Replace Wizard.
One important thing to note is that you can only replace fills or outlines, not both at the same time. Sure, Corel should make it possible to replace both at once, it just isn't available in the current versions. So if you need to replace a color in both fills and outlines, you'll have to run the wizard twice. After you've selected your colors and the desired options, click Finish and you'll get the button bar shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Find and Replace button bar.
If you prefer doing it the slow way, use any of the first four buttons. Most of the time you'll simply want to click the Replace All button and the requested changes will be made to all objects. If you have a large number of objects in a file, this may take a few seconds to complete.
Changing a single color can be important, but other projects will require that you mass convert all colors in a color model to a different color model. For example, you receive CMYK artwork and need it in RGB or vice versa. You can even convert a color graphic to grayscale with the wizard. Once again you'll select the same option in the menu and get the dialog box in Figure 3. This time you'll select "Replace a color model or palette" before clicking Next.
This brings you to the dialog box in Figure 6. I've always found that I want to keep the top option, "Find any color model or color palette" chosen. What varies is the option you choose from the "Replace with the color model" drop-down list. My most-used choices are either RGB or Grayscale depending on the project at hand. Just as with replacing single colors, you can only do outlines or fills but not both at the same time.
Figure 6: Replace a color model in the Replace Wizard.
Just as before, you'll get the button bar in Figure 5 and you'll want to click Replace All. Keep in mind that the conversion between color models is based on settings chosen earlier in this article in the Color Management Default Settings. This is just one of many reasons it is important to get those defaults set correctly in the beginning. And for the engravers, this can also affect the conversion between black. If you don't have the default settings right, you won't get the black your laser needs!
Even if you feel color management doesn't apply to you, I hope you now realize it is easy to set up correctly and it is involved in many areas of CorelDRAW. Take a couple of minutes to select the appropriate defaults for your workflow and you shouldn't have to worry about it again until you install a new version of CorelDRAW.
Get to know the options discussed for replacing either a single color or a color model. I find that I use these features multiple times a day. Trying to change the colors manually would be a very long and tedious job even if you have 15-20 objects. With this Wizard, it is just as easy to make the swap for 15,000 to 20,000 objects.