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Discussion: New CMYK for ISOM maps?

in: Orienteering; General

May 14, 2019 3:37 PM # 
Just started drawing a map with the new ISOM 2017 symbol set, and the water features looked so, how should I put it, cyan, like someone adjusted things to match pollution with blue-green algae? Or was my perception of colors deteriorating? So started checking and found that all Blue (100%, 50%) no longer have any Magenta component, all is done just with Cyan!
Checked ISSOM, still nice and blue. Searched on, found the ISOM 2017 Appendix for CMYK, and indeed, Blue is now = to Cyan. And then saw ISSprOM is also using the color of water polluted with algae.....

It may be just me, but this looks so wrong. Blue was always the color on maps easiest to explain to kids - the color of water, which gives Earth the name of Blue Planet, not Cyan Planet....

Hope it is at least a change that is beneficial to some forms of color blindness. Not sure what other benefits would be.
May 14, 2019 5:14 PM # 
Maybe pale colors would use less ink? I think it is cyan for dominant (large?) bodies of water and darker blue for smaller ones? I may be very uninformed though.
May 14, 2019 7:08 PM # 
Are you judging by what you see on the screen, or have you done a test print? They can be very different.
May 14, 2019 9:54 PM # 
@andreais: interesting! I thought I'd been using ISOM 2017 colors in OpenOrienteering Mapper, but apparently choosing that at startup from the wizard didn't get me the latest water colors ... I've only looked at Blue so far: I assume there are other changes needed to be made? Weird. What am I missing? I would have thought OOM would have gotten the colors right ... I'm no OOM expert, so it's probably on me?

So to compare, I created examples of:
  • ISOM 2000 Pond (302 - 100% Blue)
  • ISOM 2000 Lake (301 - 50% Blue)
  • ISOM 2017 Uncrossable Water (301.1 - 100% Blue)
  • ISOM 2017 Shallow Water (302.1 - 50% Blue)

    Here's the PDF ... take a look on your screen, and give them a print. I recommend the two sheets onto a single sheet (oops).

    Scientifically, I shouldn't bias your opinions ... but meh. I agree with @andreais: I prefer the look of the old 87%/18%/0%/0% Blue better, both on screen and printed (laser printer). That new Blue sure is greenish.
  • May 14, 2019 10:39 PM # 
    And all that said, I don’t have an IOF test sheet for ISOM 2017 colors to compare to.
    May 14, 2019 11:00 PM # 
    Late last year there was an update to ISOM2017, and the publication of an Appendix "CMYK Printing and Colour Definitions". See OCAD which had over the years given us CMYK values based on its experience with its favourite printer/paper in Switzerland adopted the IOF ones. I have been dreading the testing necessary to become comfortable with these new values. This is a good place to discuss these issues.

    And perhaps also the ISOM updates. The partial greens have reverted from 50 and 20% back to 60 and 30%, for example. Easy when you're starting a new map but managing the symbol sets of a club portfolio is taking some effort. I bet there are still lots of maps which haven't even been converted from ISOM2000. I bet we haven't seen the last of ISOM2017 updates either.
    May 15, 2019 12:13 AM # 
    Printed and on screen, new Blue 100% and Blue 50% are less "blue", but rather turquoise, because it is made up of only Cyan. The person in Switzerland must have had lakes at the bottom of glaciers in mind.
    And OOM indeed seems to not having followed suit yet. But
    Saving ink, though, does not seem a good enough reason to play with our good old "blue".
    May 15, 2019 1:03 AM # 
    Our home printer started printing everything in weird colours only in the past week after we changed the cyan cartridge. Perhaps it was pre-conforming to ISOM 2017.
    May 15, 2019 5:19 AM # 
    The CMYK settings listed in 'ISOM 2017 Appendix 1 – CMYK Printing and Colour Definitions' released in June 2018 are NOT intended for desktop CMYK printers.

    There has been considerable confusion about this among many very experienced mappers with the issue coming up several times on theOrienteering Mappers International facebook group.

    The CMYK settings listed on page 2 in that appendix are intended for CMYK offset printing only .
    For desktop or printshop laser or inkjet printers the relevant information in that appendix is a short paragraph on page 3:

    For laser printers, no fixed definition can be used because every single laser printer gives its “own colors”. For adjusting the CMYK definition for the actual laser printer, the use of an IOF test sheet is recommended.

    ie since every printer gives different colors and even the choice of paper can result in different colors from the same printer, (or buying different ink cartridges) it is meaningless to try and specify CMYK colors for laser (and inkjet) printers

    What that means is you should use use trial and error to figure out the best CMYK settings for your printer. The IOF produced a "Test sheet for assessing print quality for orienteering maps" for use as a standard to compare your printer's output with. You can find info about this here:
    how to order it and how to use it as a comparison. But if you don't have one just use a printed map that has good colors as a comparison. Unless you are organising a World Cup or something you don't need to be that particular about exactly matching the IOF test sheet. The IOF MC say they are working on a new test sheet.
    May 15, 2019 5:30 AM # 
    so if you don't like 100% cyan for blue just go back to the old settings - it is perfectly 'legal'. The 'standard colors' are in fact not a bunch of CMYK numbers but the colors on the 'Test sheet for assessing print quality for orienteering maps' mentioned above,

    JJ's point is important. It is the printed map that matters not the screen view. Before deciding anything print the map (using the same printer and paper you will use for the event.

    The logic behind making blue 100% cyan is that using 'pure' color means the printer doesn't have to mix dots of two or more colors and that results in a sharper line. Apparently that is important for the fine lines of marshes on 15000 maps. Personally I have never noticed a problem with this - perhaps because I don't print many 15000 maps with lots of marshes. If it was a problem you could define a 100% cyan blue for use with marshes and still stick with the 'old' blue for other blue symbols.
    May 15, 2019 5:46 AM # 
    Just to clarify: ISOM 2017 Appendix 1 – CMYK Printing and Colour Definitions is primary about CMYK offset printing. The wording of the appendix, particularly the title, is unfortunate for the majority of English speakers 'CMYK printing' means desktop lase or inkjet or printers. But the appendix is mostly talking about printing maps with offset printers using standard CMYK inks instead of 'spot colors' which meant using 5 -7 specially mixed inks that matched the colors of an O map. The appendix also suggests using CMYK + B offset printing where the brown is printed using a special spot color but the rest of the map using CMYK colors - because they feel that it hard to get good sharp brown lines using CMYK.

    but anyway all of that is mostly irrelevant to most people on Attackpoint . Unless you are printing maps for a WOC, WC etc or a very large event, offset printing is not going to be something you need to deal with. So most of what is written in that appendix is irrelevant. Except that one paragraph I quoted above.
    May 15, 2019 8:01 AM # 
    andreais didn't actually mention printing in her original post, she had 'just started drawing a map', so what she appears to be saying is that the version of OCAD she is using has 100_0_0_0 for Blue.

    I'm still a primitive OCAD 9 user, but is it the case that the latest versions of OCAD have changed Blue from the previous standard 87_18_0_0? In which case, as robplow says, all you have to do is change the colour settings back to what you were using before.

    And does it mean that OCAD AG have jumped the gun on the assumption that all their subscribers are drawing WOC maps?
    May 15, 2019 10:24 AM # 
    didn't actually mention printing in her original post . . . except for mentioning ISOM 2017 Appendix 1 which is titled 'CMYK Printing and Colour Definitions' ;)

    The point I was making above is that if you read that appendix carefully there are no 'rules' about CMYK settings for laser/etc printing. not even any recommendations.

    The settings in the appendix are for OFFSET printing only. But in the OIM facebook discussion I also learnt that there is a trend towards using 100% cyan even for laser/etc printing. (Among others, the IOF MC chair does this). So yes OCAD's ISOM 2017 symbol set uses 100% cyan. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are jumping the gun, just recommending what they perceive to be current best practice. But whatever is in the OCAD standard files is just a recommendation, not a rule. You are free to change them however you like. The only 'rule' is basically: figure out for yourself the best settings for your printer.
    May 15, 2019 10:48 AM # 
    It's also a rule that you shall not cross impassable features (I think).
    May 15, 2019 12:13 PM # 
    Terje Mathisen:
    There are three crucial points re. O map colors:

    a) The official standard is still the 2006 PrintTech offset samples, all maps should adhere as closely as possible to these colors.

    b) The Pantone colors used in (a) are partly unreachable by CMYK color mixing, i.e. they are so bright (particularly Yellow) as to be outside the gamut. As outlined by robplow, in order to fix this issue IOF MC have determined an alternate set of colors, these are so far only documented in the form of the "CMYK Offset Printing" mixes given in the CMYK appendix. We have been waiting for new reference sheets to be printed so that we can get a new target to aim at.

    c) In order to get all edges as sharp as possible, it is a good idea to use as many pure colors as possible, and to limit mixes to just 2 or 3 CMYK components. This is the primary reason for using pure Cyan.

    For my own (HP 4700) printers I have determined the following mixes:

    Brown: 18:55:100:20 (It might be possible to use 38:75:100:0 instead?)
    Yellow: 0:27:79:0 (OK, just not quite as bright as desired)
    Blue: 100:18:0:0 (Very good, better than pure cyan.)
    Green: 50:0:91:0 (OK)
    Purple: 18:100:0:0 (OK)

    When I printed a test sheet using the new Offset CMYK values, the results were quite bad, and significantly worse than when I just used the old OCAD defaults.
    May 15, 2019 12:19 PM # 
    Terje Mathisen:
    I would like to test printing with pure cyan for blue line features (including marshes) and a mix for areas, that might give the best of both worlds. Have anyone here already tried this?
    May 15, 2019 1:06 PM # 
    If you think you there is a problem with the thin lines for marshes and indistinct marshes you could create a special color for them (call it blue for marshes), make that color 100% cyan and then keep the old blue for all other blue symbols
    May 15, 2019 1:30 PM # 
    When I printed a test sheet using the new Offset CMYK values, the results were quite bad, and significantly worse than when I just used the old OCAD defaults.

    That is because those CMYK settings were never intended for Laser printers.
    May 15, 2019 3:17 PM # 
    Looking forward to the new reference sheets!
    May 15, 2019 3:49 PM # 
    I wouldn't hold your breath.

    Anyway, unless you are doing a major national or international event I wouldn't get too worried about exactly matching the test sheet. If you have been using the old CMYK settings and you and your customers are happy with the results just keep doing the same.
    May 16, 2019 7:09 AM # 
    Terje Mathisen:
    @robplow: "That is because those CMYK settings were never intended for Laser printers".

    I do know that, but it is still quite thought provoking that offset CMYK and laser CMYK can be so very different.

    Re not holding my breath: I was told by IOF MC severael months ago that the new reference sheets were "just around the corner", do you know if anything has happened in the meantime?
    May 16, 2019 8:48 AM # 
    I seem to recall ISOM 2017 being 'just around the corner' for several years.

    I don't have any contacts close to the MC or IOF - surely you would have better contacts than me. At least you are on the same continent. I think I would be one of the last to know.
    May 16, 2019 9:50 AM # 
    Thanks, particularly Rob and Terje. That's helped my understanding a lot. Prior to any more symbol conversion exercises I must carefully create a file to hold my favourite colours.

    But picking up on Simmo's point, it seems that the LESS capable OCAD user can no longer simply start a file with an ISOM 2017-2 or ISSprOM symbol set from OCAD's standard offerings, with colours likely to be in the right ballpark. What Simmo calls a primitive user needs to get the symbols from there, and import colours from somewhere else. Our primitive user may not be inclined or even capable of doing colour testing.

    OCAD 2018 now only offers the Appendix 1 colour sets, when the people they are intended for could quite easily mix and match and judge and tweak colours themselves.

    This view relies on OCAD's previous colour sets being reasonable for a wide range of laser printers and papers, as it was for me. Was that the case?
    May 16, 2019 10:35 AM # 
    And that situation is unchanged since digital printing became the de facto standard, long before ISOM17.
    May 16, 2019 11:32 AM # 
    I haven't studied the changes in the color settings of the new OCAD symbol set but I am guessing they haven't changed a lot. Obviously there is the change to 100 % cyan for blue and I think the green shades will be a little different .But if you are used to just relying on the OCAD defaults not a lot will have changed.

    Again, it is not that critical for local events. I would hope that for major events someone would have the skill level to do a bit of tweeking of CMYK values - it's not that hard.
    May 16, 2019 2:26 PM # 
    At the recent Australian Sprint and Middle Champs (both WREs), we did tweak the CMYK values for purple, browns, yellows, and yellow 100%/green 50%. Purple, yellow, brown shades and Y/G changes were for colour blindness reasons, and the full brown for better contour visibility, especially over green, Y/G and grey (buildings). We're yet to hear what the MC thinks about the (digitally printed) maps :-)

    For those interested the values were:
    Purple 35_85_0_0
    Brown 20_70_100_0
    Paved Brown with traffic 10_35_50_0
    without traffic 5_17_25_0
    Yellow 0_20_95_0
    Yellow 50% 0_10_48_0
    Yellow 100%/Green 50% 40_30_90_0
    May 16, 2019 3:33 PM # 
    IOF with WOD wants to expand orienteering, catering to everyone in the World, and OCAD offers a version of their product just for that purpose, the "Starter", the "primitive user", who has gotten engaged in the process for that purpose, of bringing orienteering to more places, to more kids and youth and families. And the printers they have available are most likely of the Ink Jet kind. I understand there is this thing about this all being designed for the WOC and whatever crowd, and all others should not worry, etc. But the "primitive user" will start using the "Starter" software and get first into learning how to draw, follow video tutorials, what not (I know how difficult it is to explain mapping things to someone such that it keeps them engaged to do it and not drop out because they find the learning curve too steep), and the way the colors look like and "why" will not be a thing they will look into at first, however, will wonder why things look different from what they have seen to that point. Suggesting to a newbie to just open a "New Map" is much better and more straight forward then trying to explain to them how to create their own set of symbols and colors, while still sticking to standards and not really create new symbols, and then how to open or import these symbols while not screwing up other things.
    In some way I think it is indeed an OCAD issue, that the "New Map" symbol and color set caters to the "WOC, WC" mapping crowd, forgetting all the others they are trying to cater to.
    May 18, 2019 4:50 AM # 
    The OCAD blog (which if you so choose pops up when you open OCAD) has a posting about symbol sets, and a link to a simple "Symbol Set Overview".
    If you don't have the auto blog, its address is

    On a VERY quick look, there's no indication that, in adopting or converting to OCAD's latest ISOM or ISSprOM symbols, you might get a surprise with the colours. I hope I'm wrong!
    May 18, 2019 8:52 AM # 
    Old ISOM 2017: 90 30 0 0

    New ISOM 2017-2: 100 0 0 0

    ISSOM 2007 95 30 0 0

    ISprOM 2019 100 0 0 0

    certainly on my screen the 100% cyan blue is noticeably lighter - haven't tried a print comparison yet.

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