Color Management Fundamentals
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Comparing factory printer profiles to real-world printer profiles


From:

Color Management Fundamentals

with Joe Brady

Video: Comparing factory printer profiles to real-world printer profiles

Let's take a closer look at the reasons for creating a Custom Profile. Now I've found that for my fine art papers, my printers are capable of printing a much deeper black than the factory profile allows for. These factory profiles are accurate, but since they have to play it safe a bit to allow for variations in environmental conditions and in printers, they get very conservative. So let's take a look at how some factory profiles compare to Custom Profiles. I'm going to use Apple's ColorSync utility to show you this.
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  1. 2m 46s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
  2. 15m 33s
    1. Understanding color spaces
      6m 0s
    2. Ensuring that you have the best possible image at capture
      4m 25s
    3. Understanding tools required for color management
      5m 8s
  3. 8m 6s
    1. Exploring what happens without color management
      3m 6s
    2. Understanding the basics of color workflow for photographers
      1m 48s
    3. Understanding the basics of color workflow for design and the web
      3m 12s
  4. 9m 43s
    1. Setting up a digital camera for the best image file
      3m 56s
    2. Exploring the benefits of custom camera profiles
      5m 47s
  5. 16m 7s
    1. Choosing a monitor, the window to the digital world
      2m 28s
    2. Understanding why you can't trust your eyes
      2m 31s
    3. Calibrating a display using ColorMunki Display
      6m 42s
    4. Calibrating a display using i1Pro 2
      4m 26s
  6. 9m 31s
    1. Understanding and choosing color settings in Photoshop
      3m 26s
    2. Understanding color workflow in raw applications, including Lightroom, Aperture, and Capture NX
      2m 50s
    3. Setting color standards for the Adobe Creative Suite
      3m 15s
  7. 54m 15s
    1. Choosing the best printer
      4m 37s
    2. Exploring the benefits of custom printer profiles
      3m 29s
    3. Comparing factory printer profiles to real-world printer profiles
      5m 31s
    4. Creating a printer profile with ColorMunki Photo
      5m 45s
    5. Creating a printer profile with i1Pro
      5m 13s
    6. Understanding color gamut and rendering intents
      3m 20s
    7. Soft proofing images in Photoshop
      6m 18s
    8. Getting prints that match the image in the soft proof
      3m 4s
    9. Soft proofing for lab printing and for the web
      3m 41s
    10. Soft proofing in Lightroom and other raw processing applications
      6m 16s
    11. Choosing the right fine-art paper
      7m 1s
  8. 2m 44s
    1. Next steps
      2m 44s

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Watch the Online Video Course Color Management Fundamentals
1h 58m Beginner Sep 26, 2013

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Having a consistent color management workflow can help you accurately get prints that match the image on your monitor. In this course, follow along with Joe Brady as he takes you through the basics of color management for photography, design, and the web. First, you'll learn about the different color spaces (CMYK, ColorMatch, and sRGB) and how they influence your color workflow, and the tools you need to achieve accurate color. Then learn how and why to calibrate your camera and your monitor, configure the color settings in applications such as the Adobe Creative Suite and Aperture, and choose the best printer and paper for your style of artwork. Along the way, Joe takes you into a typical studio setup for lessons on the gear you need for at-home calibration and printing.

Topics include:
  • Understanding color spaces
  • Understanding the color workflow for photography vs. design and web
  • Setting up a digital camera for the best image results
  • Choosing a monitor
  • Calibrating a display using ColorMunki or i1Pro 2
  • Choosing color settings in Photoshop
  • Understanding color workflow in raw processing applications
  • Creating a custom printer profile
  • Soft-proofing images for printing on your own printer and for sending to a lab
Subjects:
Design Photography
Author:
Joe Brady

Comparing factory printer profiles to real-world printer profiles

Let's take a closer look at the reasons for creating a Custom Profile. Now I've found that for my fine art papers, my printers are capable of printing a much deeper black than the factory profile allows for. These factory profiles are accurate, but since they have to play it safe a bit to allow for variations in environmental conditions and in printers, they get very conservative. So let's take a look at how some factory profiles compare to Custom Profiles. I'm going to use Apple's ColorSync utility to show you this.

So here we have the factory profile for a pearl-surface paper. This is Ilford's gold-fiber silk, and we see it's got a nice, kind of robust color, and it goes way down to black. What this graph is showing us is where the black cross is. That means the blacks and the highlights are up on the top and it seems to have a nice range. Let's compare it to a Custom Profile. So, I'm going to hold this and bring up a Custom Profile that I created. And you can see, the plots, pretty much match. They're very close.

Now, the factory profile is the one that is ghosted out in white. And according to the factory profile, the printer can print actually a little more of this blue and green than my Custom Profile has shown. The rest of the profile, though, is very close. In reality a profile that is this close to one another, you're not going to see a lot of difference on the printer. Let's clear this And bring up something we're going to have a little bit more trouble with. Here's the factory profile for a gallery prestige final texture paper, and this for my Canon 6350 printer.

Now you can see if you remember what the last profile looked like, this entire area down in the bottom is missing. That means its saying that this particular printer paper combination really cant print any deep blacks or deep colors. But in reality I found that not to be the case. So lets hold this one and compare it to my custom profile that I created for this printer. And we'll see, wow, what a difference? This is the reality of my printer. It can get almost down to a complete black. Now this is a fine art matte paper, so you're not expecting it to be able to print 100% black.

You've probably seen that if you print black on a matte paper it's not quite as dense as on a glossy stock. But this particular paper is pretty close. And by using the factory profile, I'm giving up a whole lot of color that this printer-paper combination is actually capable of doing. So this is a case where you're going to get a dramatic difference. Let me clear the comparison again. Can go back to the factory profile, if you use the factory profile and your image has coloured that with end up way down on this bottom. The rendering intent is going to move that color up into these colors and you're going to end up losing a lot of to tunnel radiations.

You're going to lose a lot of density and a lot of saturation. By holding this again and bringing up my Custom Profile, you see I have much greater color gamut and I'm going to get a much better print. So we've seen that the factory profiles for a pearl coated stock were pretty good. The Custom Profile may be squeezed a bit more range out of the paper, but they were very close. When we looked at a factory profile for the fine art paper, it was extremely conservative. Now again, to be fair, playing it safe won't cause terrible color.

But the density of the blacks and deep colors was being compromised and would make for a much weaker print. Having a custom paper profile for this type of fine art paper is a great advantage. And will truly print much better, with better color depth and saturation. You're making the investment in time and money to make your own prints, so get the best results possible and use Custom Profiles. Now that we've seen the benefits of creating a Custom Profile, well, how do you go about creating a custom profile? It's actually not very difficult to do.

You just need to have some hardware and software to do it. But we're going to see two different levels of hardware and software available to create Custom Profiles, and a little later on we'll go in to detail on how this happens. Now one of the most economical but very effective pieces of equipment that provides this capability is the ColorMunki Photo from X-Rite. Now all paper profiling systems operate in a similar fashion. They print a series of color patches on your specific paper and then after the ink has had a chance to dry, the measurement device, in this case the ColorMunki Photo, reads in each of the color patches.

Now, since the expected color values of these patches are known, the readings are compared to what was expected. Some may be pretty close, others may be way off. Again, this is due to how each paper surface absorbs and reflects color back. The differences are then calculated into the profile. In a nutshell, that's exactly what a profile is. It's a list of corrections needed to produce an expected color. The ColorMunki Photo makes this entire process easy, and we'll see it in action soon. If you creating profiles for use on a larger professional printers, you should know about a more advanced system like the i1Pro2, which is also from X-Rite.

The more sophisticated software allows many options, including the ability to print out many more color patches for more accurate profiles. It makes sense that the more color information you provide, the better the profile will be. Creating a profile with this level of system will maximize the color range and produce the smoothest gradations in your final print. Now you may not see a great difference on an 8 by 10 print, but if you're a color perfectionist you'll see improvements on much larger prints. And again, we'll see this in action later.

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