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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


Under that, you'll find Printer Profile. Click on the arrow at the right to get the drop-down menu of profiles. This will offer you more choices than you really need. Look through the list for your printer model and find the appropriate paper profile for the paper you're using. Photoshop will now correctly map the color profile numbers to the color space.

This doesn't guarantee a good print yet. You need to tell the printer (in the printer driver properties) the type of paper you're using and the kind of print you want (photo). This lets the printer know how to put ink on the paper appropriate to the paper and photo quality. Since you're allowing Photoshop to handle the color management, you need to turn off color management in the printer driver (you'll usually find an option somewhere that says Off/No Color Management). You don't want the printer reinterpreting how to use the color space of the photo. That will usually result in off-color prints with poor tonality.

Even for the same specific printer, ICC profiles differ depending on the paper brand, paper surface, resolution setting and ink used. For this reason, you may find that it's sometimes more efficient to allow the printer driver to simply use its built-in profiles. This route offers less control but sometimes actually produces better results.

To do this, select Let Printer Determine Colors in Color Handling of the Options area of Print with Preview. Then set the printer driver to the correct paper type and photo quality, but allow it to handle color management.

If you're planning to print the images at a later time on a known device (the popular Fuji Frontier commercial lab printer, for example), you can embed the appropriate printer profile and save the image. Adobe Photoshop allows you to embed an ICC color profile when the image is saved.

It's also possible to assign a new color profile as well as to convert from one profile to another. When you convert a profile, the color numbers are adjusted before they're mapped to the new space so that the original color appearance is retained. But when you assign a new profile to an image, expect to see a color shift on the monitor. This happens because the old color numbers are mapped directly to the new color profile space.

Keep these ideas about color space and printer profiles in mind as you capture, process an image and prepare it for printing. Just as we used to get great refrigerator pictures from small boxes of Crayola crayons, now our kids can create wonderful images from new choices. While it's not the color space that gives you a good photo, knowing about color spaces and printer profiles will help you avoid disappointment and get output that matches your vision for the image.


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