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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Color Spaces & Printer Profiles Revealed

Crayon color choices have some important similarities to how color spaces are defined and used

Labels: How ToPrinting

Let's go back to that big box of 64 crayons. An ICC color profile is analogous to a list that indicates each crayon's color and its location in the box. If we translate from one profile to another, it's the equivalent of specifying which crayon in Box A is the best match for each crayon in Box B.

Color profiles communicate how colors should be translated from the color space of one digital device to the color space of another (e.g., camera to printer). They also specify how the colors should be reproduced on the display device (computer monitor). Be warned that unless your monitor is calibrated, you'll be unable to see an accurate rendition of the colors, even if the software is correctly mapping one device's profile to another. With a properly calibrated monitor, however, you can preview and "soft proof" your final output.

Images edited in Adobe RGB will, by default, embed Adobe RGB as the ICC color profile when you select the Save As option. That's good, because it means you'll have a device-independent copy of the edited image.

Using a printer's ICC profile to maximize output quality is surprisingly easy. The first step is to obtain the profile for the printer, paper and ink combination for the target printer. These are usually installed when you install the printer. For independent papers, they can usually be downloaded from the paper manufacturer's website.

If you're printing directly from within Photoshop CS2 (Photoshop Elements is similar), select Print with Preview from the File menu and select Color Management from the drop-down list on the left-hand side. Next, under Options, select Let Photoshop Determine Colors in Color Handling.




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