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Colour Chameleon

by Grafikhuset

Platform(s): Win
License: Commercial

Application type: Plug-in
Prepress, Print & PDF/X
Editing & Management
Color & Imposition


PreFlight2000 Colour Chameleon gives you the power to create high quality, colour matching PDF files for prepress from virtually any software application, incl. MS Office, Adobe Framemaker on Windows, GIS applications like MapInfo and ArcView and, of course, any 'true' dtp application.

What's different about Colour Chameleon is that unlike "Post PDF" repair kits, Colour Chameleon intervenes in the "Pre PDF" phase and cleans the incoming bad Postscript BEFORE it hits Acrobat Distiller 4.05 or 5.0.

Colour Chameleon 2.0
offer substantial
new functionality, incl.
RGB -> CMYK or grey
conversion of images.

Therefore, Colour Chameleon does its job DURING creation of the press-ready PDF documents rather than afterwards. Hence, additional in-PDF editing of PDF documents created by Colour Chameleon shouldn't be needed at all.

The basic Colour Chameleon work flow

Colour Chameleon take EPS documents or documents printed to a PostScript file as input. It cannot output anything else than CMYK or spot coloured Acrobat 4 compatible PDF documents (except when you set-up user-defined job options for Acrobat Distiller, in which case you not Colour Chameleon are responsible for the output quality).

Colour Chameleon is extremely easy to use. You simply drag your EPS or PostScript documents from Windows Explorer to the Colour Chameleon interface, edit the colours as needs be and then press the Create Output Now button. End of story. How it works is discussed below.

When a EPS or PostScript document arrive in Colour Chameleon, an analysis of your documents is started and an initial Colour Table for each document is created according to a default set of CMYK conversion rules. These colour tables display any colour used in your documents and can be edited individually, copied to other documents, merged into other colour tables or edited globally by the 'Change colours' function. Here is an example:

All editing is controlled within this simple dialog. All colours are sorted by input type and can be edited or re-mapped as you please.

Colour Chameleon group vector based input colours and colours from spot colour images for editing as follows:

  • Grey colours, incl. calibrated grey
  • RGB colours, incl. calibrated RGB
  • CMYK colours, incl. calibrated CMYK
  • Spot colours, incl. RGB based spot colours, calibrated spot colours and spot colours from monotone and duotone images.

Overprint can be enabled/disabled for each colour from the above mentioned groups. As sub-groups to the above mentioned groups are

  • CMYK colours from known gradients
  • Spot colours from known gradients
  • Any process colorant from duotone images
  • Spot colours identified as background colours from bitmap pattern fills created by some PostScript drivers.

Grey, RGB and CMYK colours can be edited in CMYK as you please, or re-mapped to any existing CMYK colour, spot colour or spot colour tint.

Spot colours can not be edited. Instead, spot colours can be re-mapped to other existing spot plates, their tint value can be changed and new spot colours can be created and mapped to.

Monotone images will not be stored in DeviceN colour space. Instead, Colour Chameleon will convert such images to Separation colour space and this way allow for proper separation with older equipment. Duotone images will be stored in DeviceN colour space, however. Colour Chameleon support monotone and duotone images from Adobe Photoshop 5.0 or later and fix the 'inverted rendering' bug with such images from Photoshop 5.0 (Adobe fixed this bug with Photoshop 5.02).

Colour Chameleon preserve spot colours in gradients from QuarkXpress 3.32 or later and CorelDraw! 9.0 or later. It can apply spot colours to all other gradient types as long as they are recognized as gradients (most are, and in case of CorelDraw! Colour Chameleon support gradients created even with CorelDraw! 3.0).

The Colour Chameleon image conversion features

Even though Colour Chameleon provide very good RGB image to CMYK conversion defaults for printing on coated stock, a flexible conversion set-up is both required and offered in the Create output part of Colour Chameleon:

Besides conversion to greyscale rather than CMYK, the settings offered for conversion of RGB images are:

  • Black Generation, GCR/UCA. These settings define how black printing ink is generated to make RGB images commercially printable with good contrast.
  • Dot Gain Compensation, individually for C, M and Y or an average for the grey balance. These settings compensate for the darkening of midtones that occur during a commercial printing process, but can additionally be used to remove unwanted colour cast and/or to neutralise and lighten the grey balance in midtones.
  • Saturation Compensation, individually for six different colorant relationships. These settings ensure that you will get bright colours.
  • Contrast Compensation, individually for C, M, Y and K and each colorant with individual settings for highlight burn-away and shadow increase. These settings are very useful for adding contrast, removing colour cast in highlight or shadow image areas and for adding shadow strength.

The built-in MiniGuide, which also follow the free demo version of Colour Chameleon, provide detailed information on how you administer these settings.

Colour Chameleon removes all calibration information that one or the other way have sneaked into your EPS or PostScript documents. In other words, Colour Chameleon ignore any embedded ICC profiles. This behaviour is by design.

Additional Colour Chameleon output features

Colour Chameleon offer a lot more than converting colours:

  • Advanced stroke control. This feature is extremely useful with art from GIS systems or documents created by applications that create their PostScript via Windows GDI.
    Besides setting a minimum line width for strokes, i.e. 'true' lines, this function also calculate the smallest size of filled rectangles (which Windows GDI may use instead of strokes), and add additional width until the minimum is reached. This is extremely relevant with e.g. table borders created by Office like systems and Adobe Framemaker.
    Optionally, this function also can control line endings, how lines are joined in a composite path and how miter joins are performed. This is extremely useful with GIS maps drawn with 'hairlines', which almost always will produce unwanted, visible 'spikes' when such 'hairlines' are thickened.
  • Gradient conversion to smooth shadings. This is a by design feature that cannot be controlled by the user. It's very useful for drawing gradients completely without 'banding'. All known gradients will be converted to smooth shadings. One exception is gradients created with the XyEnterprise XPP system, which explicitly are passed on as usual 'blends', but with spot colour information preserved.
  • Setting CropBox, TrimBox and BleedBox. This feature is optional and allow for on-the-fly definition of a cropping region, a trimming region and a bleed region.
    With Quark Xpress 3.32 or later Colour Chameleon can detect where the cropmarks are positioned and optionally define these regions without any user action.
    With Colour Chameleon follow a free copy of the very useful Prinergy Page Geometry plug-in for Acrobat, which kindly is provided by CreoScitex to the Colour Chameleon users.
  • Remove bitmap pattern fills. This feature is optional and allow for on-the-fly removal of the moiré causing part of pattern tiles created by some PostScript drivers.
    During analysis Colour Chameleon detect when a moiré causing pattern tile is used for filling a vector based element from e.g. a MS Office application. Each time such a fill is identified it will be added to the colour table as a spot colour named 'Pattern 1 on Page 4', 'Pattern 2 on Page 12', 'Pattern 3 on Page 37' and so on, and this way allow you to substitute each pattern with either a 'true' spot colour or a CMYK colour.
    During PDF creation Colour Chameleon then will remove the bitmap part of the pattern tiles and insert the colour you applied as a new fill colour.
  • Slice'N'Dice PDF pages. This feature is optional and offer you the option of letting the created PDF document be split into single page PDF documents on the fly.
  • Delete all images on the fly. This feature is optional and is really useful for creating language plates for catalogues or brochures already pre-printed as CMYK 'blanks'.
    The feature makes it easy to produce a image-less language 'roll-over' draft for each language, or simply the final separation for the language add-on plates.
  • Advanced PostScript error reporting. This feature is by design and will force creation of a PDF document even though a PostScript error occur. The last page in the created PDF document will be incomplete, but it may help you hunting down the error source.
    In addition to the PDF document, a log window will display extended PostScript error information, the byte position for the error, the offending command and the reason for it. Finally it display a dump of the operand stack, the dictionary stack and the execution stack.
    This information may not help you much, but it's extremely useful for a technician.
  • Detailed 'post-flight' information. This feature is by design and will apply an Acrobat annotation to page 1 in any created PDF document.
    Useful information on conversion results and different kinds of warnings are provided instantly when the PDF document is opened in Acrobat.

Besides the above mentioned output options you of course can preview the effect of your editing at any time before you create the final press-ready PDF document:

Supported applications

Any application that can print through a PostScript printer driver or export documents in EPS format. PostScript Level 1 and 2 is fully supported. EPS or PostScript documents created on Macintosh or Unix systems are also supported, but these must be made available to Colour Chameleon via a network connection, since Colour Chameleon only run on Microsoft Windows..


Recent patches:


PostScript 3 is partly supported. Tritone and quadtone images from Adobe PhotoShop are currently not supported.

Spot colours from a duotone image can not be re-mapped to CMYK. They can be re-mapped to other spot colours, however, or to a named process colorant. This limitation does not apply to monotone images.

System requirements

Colour Chameleon version 2.0 require the following software to be installed:

  • Microsoft Windows. Colour Chameleon should run on any 32 bit version of Microsoft Windows. It has only been tested on Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 98, however.
  • Adobe Acrobat 4.05 and/or 5.0, the full products. If both versions are installed, Acrobat Distiller 5.0 will be used as PostScript interpreter, but a prompt will ask which version of the viewer to use. The recommended choice is the Acrobat 5.0 viewer with 'Overprint preview' switched on.
    Acrobat Reader is not supported. Colour Chameleon may run with Adobe Acrobat 4.00, but this is neither recommended nor supported by Colour Chameleon Tech. Support.
  • Microsoft Data Access Components, version 2.5 Service Pack 2 or newer (MDAC). MDAC is not included with the installer, but is available here.
  • Microsoft Jet 4.0, Service Pack 3 or newer. Jet 4.0 is not included with the installer, but is available here.
  • A fast computer. Conversion of images from RGB to CMYK require extra horse power when it's performed in PostScript as with Colour Chameleon.

Besides the above mentioned a properly configured PostScript driver is required. The recommended thing to do is to install a copy of the Acrobat Distiller printer driver and then assign the FILE: port to this driver. The latest version of this driver can be downloaded from

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