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Let's talk about color management. Color management refers to the proper control of tone and color in our workflow system. In a typical image workflow, we start by capturing an image. In our workflow we are starting by capturing an image without scanner. And then we move our image from a scanner to a monitor and from a monitor to an output device, such as printer or it might be another output device like on the web. So the image content is transferred from one device to the other. The image tone and color is reproduced differently on each device. And therein lies our greatest challenge.
All right, scanners capture tone. In fact, that's all they capture is tone. They don't really capture color. Remember the all color is created by output devices, not input devices. So scanners take our tones and convert them into grayscale base and pixels. Then those grayscale pixels are sent to a monitor and monitors will then paint those pixels with various red, green, and blue technologies, LCDs, Phosphors, LEDs, wide variety and constantly expanding output technologies on monitors. And then, those color pixels are being colored by the monitor are sent to a printing device, where not only are we using dots to reproduce that instead of pixels, but we are using inks like cyan, magenta, yellow, black and that's just a baseline on wide gamut printers, we are adding light cyan, light magenta, greens, and oranges and expanding a range of colors.
The result is that each of these devices has what we call a different color space. And color space refers to the range of reproducible tone and color. So a scanner has one color space, a monitor has another one and a printer has another one indeed. Some are larger, some are smaller, there's some overlap but you can reproduce tones and colors on one device that you can't on another. Now is if that weren't enough of a challenge, add to all those color variables output substrates. We start with the substrate which is the actual original surface with the scanner and the image is transferred over the monitor.
It's glass or plastic. We go to an output device, right. It's going to be paper or plastic or metal and we are using a variety of different inks on those. Then add to that challenge, variable lighting that changes all the time. So with all those challenges of trying to reproduce tone and color, it's a wonder these images look anything like it always, you move them from one end to another, never mind match. Well, our solution to this is called Color Management. And with color management, we try to coalesce all these different devices with all these challenges to reproduce tones and color the same way on each one or get as close as we can.
We do this though a process called characterization. Here is how it works, which we start with the target with known value. In this case, this is a scan target. We use a reflective target on reflective scanners and then we use film targets on film scanners. Then we scan this target that has known values with our scanner and then we take that file and we run it through a color management software that creates what we call a color profile. And that color profile contains the color space of that device, which says this device can reproduce these tones in these colors.
We do the same thing on a monitor, and then we do the same thing on a printing device. For the printing device, we actually, print the tones and colors and then analyze them. And then what the color management system does, is it takes all those color profiles and it links them together, and we try to use those to try to reproduce our tones and colors the same on each device. That's just kind of an outline of our challenges in what we do to meet those challenges. Well, the details of that are well beyond the scope of this course. But what you and I can do is we can learn how to calibrate our scanners and create use color profiles, and very importantly learn to scan images by the numbers.
We use to learn scan images by the numbers. we are going to get the proper grayscale base. And remember, that all we can actually capture is grayscale base. If we get the grayscale base right off of our scanner and we send our image to a calibrated device like a monitor or a printer, then the color is going to likely come off right on those. To learn more about a color management, I will refer you to this really great class called Color Management Essential Training with Chris Murphy. It's right here on the lynda.com Library. As a starting point, I am going to recommend to you that you learn how to calibrate your own monitors.
And simple to do, you can buy a simple monitor calibration device for a $100 to $200 with software and that's going to calibrate your monitor, which is going to give you much better representation of tone and color right off the bat. And then add to that what we are going to do here is learning to calibrate and color manage your scanner, and that's how we are going to do our part to help you manage your whole color workflow.
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