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Exploring the benefits of custom printer profiles

From: Color Management Fundamentals

Video: Exploring the benefits of custom printer profiles

Let's explore profiles a little more. Really, what exactly is a profile? Well, a profile, and you can say ICC profile, if you wish to be technically accurate, is a file that contains information about how an output device reproduces color. More easily stated, an ICC profile contains all the colors that can be reproduced on a certain output device, in our case, we're talking about an inkjet printer. All of the colors together make up the color space or gamut of the device. In essence, and as I've used that term before, how many crayons are in my box? ICC profiles can be created for three types of devices that we've run into.

Exploring the benefits of custom printer profiles

Let's explore profiles a little more. Really, what exactly is a profile? Well, a profile, and you can say ICC profile, if you wish to be technically accurate, is a file that contains information about how an output device reproduces color. More easily stated, an ICC profile contains all the colors that can be reproduced on a certain output device, in our case, we're talking about an inkjet printer. All of the colors together make up the color space or gamut of the device. In essence, and as I've used that term before, how many crayons are in my box? ICC profiles can be created for three types of devices that we've run into.

We've talked about monitors and cameras. And of course printers are more accurately, a printer paper combination. As our image takes its digital journey from capture, to edit, to print, it travels through devices that have different capabilities of displaying and outputting color. Simply put, profiles translate color from one device to another according to each devices color and tonal capabilities. Printer paper profiles, in fact, I'm just going to call them paper profiles, characterize how a specific printer paper combination produces color.

Every printer does this differently. And every paper absorbs and reflects these colors differently. The first question is, well, why should you bother to use profiles at all? I mean, the printer driver asks if I want to have the printer manage colors. It all comes down to how important accurate color is to you. If you let the printer manage color, a lot of times you're going to get contrasty, saturated results. That may work for some images, but other images are going to look at best cartoonish and at worst, well, horrendous. What a profile does is it understands exactly what your printer is capable of.

It also understands how to translate color from the image you see on the screen to that printer. A paper profile for your specific paper combination translates color from your digital image into the best match possible on that printer. For example, if your image contains a deep dark red that is beyond the ink and paper's capabilities to produce, the profile will move that color to the closest possible tone that is printable. In addition, since many colors and tones are sampled when a profile is created, an accurate tonal curve is also generated.

This means that you'll get the smoothest distribution of gradations from light to dark. Even if you're printing in black and white. Understanding the importance of using a paper profile, well why would you want to create your own? Why not just use the profiles made available from the printer manufacturer, or the paper maker? Well, using factory supplied profiles is certainly much better than not using a profile at all. I found that factory profiles for glossy and pearl, or luster surfaces are usually pretty good and closely match what I've created using my tools.

Fine art papers, however, are frequently a different story. The limitation of factory profiles is that they're generic by nature. They're created using assumptions about temperature, humidity, altitude, and how a certain printer delivers ink to the paper. Fine art papers seem to be much more sensitive to variations, but because of the need to be safe for every printer of a specific model, they end up being very conservative. The result is you're probably not getting all of the color and tonal range out of your printer that your paper is capable of.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what our paper profiles are going to do, later in this chapter, we're going to explore creating and putting custom profiles to use.

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This video is part of

Image for Color Management Fundamentals
Color Management Fundamentals

29 video lessons · 8842 viewers

Joe Brady
Author

 
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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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