Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

10. Color Settings


Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

Video: 10. Color Settings

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! #10! Color is a crapshoot, and as much as we'd like to believe that blue is blue, it simply ain't true. Every device, screen or printer displays colors differently. Fortunately, Photoshop is there to help. The Color Settings command lets you quantify colors, coordinate the other programs in the Creative Suite, and maybe just maybe get the colors that you see on screen to print accurately.
please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

10. Color Settings

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! #10! Color is a crapshoot, and as much as we'd like to believe that blue is blue, it simply ain't true. Every device, screen or printer displays colors differently. Fortunately, Photoshop is there to help. The Color Settings command lets you quantify colors, coordinate the other programs in the Creative Suite, and maybe just maybe get the colors that you see on screen to print accurately.

It's a tall order, but it can be done. Feature #10 is the Color Settings command, which allows you to establish Color Management Settings and Policies inside Photoshop, and I'll tell you what that means in just a moment, as well as ensure consistent color across the various Adobe Creative Suite applications. So here is how it works. Go up to the Edit menu and choose the Color Settings command, or you can press Ctrl+Shift+K, Command+Shift+K on the Mac. Brings up a fairly daunting dialog box. Now I have yet to experience simple color management that's any good.

So you can expect this to be a little bit complicated, however, I think Adobe has done about as good a job as anybody out there. Now by default Settings here in the States is set to North America General Purpose 2. It might be set to something else for you in the different part of the world. But no matter what, here are the changes I recommend you make. Drop down to this RGB Working Space right here, which by default is set to sRGB. Now sRGB is a great idea, I have to say. The idea is we're going to establish a universal RGB Working Space that will be recognized by scanners and printers and screens and all kinds of different applications out there, but it is the lowest common denominator color space.

It's designed to work with inexpensive PC monitors, old-style CRT tubes. Most of us have much better monitors at our disposal these days. And therefore we can take advantage of a richer color space. Now whether you're going to the web, or you're going to print, I don't care. I recommend that you switch your RGB space from sRGB to this guy right there, Adobe RGB (1998). It was established in 1998 as you can see. It's been adopted by just about everybody and it's a really great working space.

So go ahead and switch to Adobe RGB. Next, drop down to CMYK. If you're working with a commercial printer, I encourage you to encourage them to give you a CMYK profile, and then you can open up this pop-up menu and choose Load CMYK, and load that profile into the Color Settings dialog box. If you're not working with a commercial printer, don't worry about it. Gray and Spot you can safely skip. Drop down here to Color Management Policies. These guys should be set to their defaults. That is RGB, CMYK and gray images should all be set to Preserve Embedded Profiles.

So that Photoshop is always preserving the Embedded Profile associated with an image regardless of what overarching Working Space you have going on. I'll explain how that works in just a moment. Make sure that your Profile Mismatches are all turned off. So Ask When Opening, and Ask When Pasting, all those guys should be turned off as by default. Next go ahead and click on the More Options button in order to extend the dialog box and drop down here. Notice that we have these Conversion Options available to us. The Engine should be left set to the Adobe Color Engine or ACE, if you prefer.

I tend to go ahead and change the Intent. Now if you're working primarily with programs like Illustrator or InDesign or Flash or any of the smooth line drawing programs out there, then Relative Colorimetric is a great color space. However, if you're doing most of your work inside of Photoshop and with photographic images in general, then you better off switching over to Perceptual, because that way Photoshop is going to do its best to preserve the visual relationships between neighboring colors, and that's going to give you smoother transitions, smoother gradients and so on, better volumetric images.

Now, if you like, you can turn off one of these three check boxes, and that would be Use Dither. If you turn that off, when you convert images from one profile to another color profile, you won't apply any dithering. That issue won't introduce any noise inside of a solid color region. Now if that's a concern, turn that checkbox off. If it's not a concern, leave the checkbox on. That's all you need to do. Now what I'd like you to do is go up to the Save button here and click on it. And that way you can save your Color Settings for use across the entire Creative Suite.

Now I'm going to go ahead and save my Color Settings as Best Workflow. That's what I've been calling these for years. And I'll click the Save button, and you don't want to change the location on your hard drive, where you save these Color Settings. You want to leave it wherever Photoshop wants to put it by default. Then click on the Save button right there. And then you want to go ahead and type in the Comment as you desire. I'm going to paste in the comment that I've created in advance. These are the settings that I recommend in my Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign One-on-One series for Deke Press, O'Reilly Media, and the producers of this series,

They ensure, that is the Color Settings ensure, consistent color and printing across all three applications. Click OK. And I'm now ready to go. Notice that my Settings are now set to Best Workflow. I have all my settings saved for later use. If I ever want to switch back to the old settings, I could switch them back to North America General Purpose 2 once again. I don't want to, want to leave it set to Best Workflow, and then I'll click OK in order to accept that modification. All right. Now it's time for step two, and you only take advantage of step two, if you own a full version of the Creative Suite.

That is Photoshop, Illustrator, and a few other applications out there. If you own Photoshop by itself, you cannot do the following steps. All right, but to establish consistent color across all the Creative Suite applications, you go up to the File menu and choose Browse in Bridge. Ctrl+Alt+O or Command+Option+O on the Mac. That will switch you over to the Bridge right here. Then you go up to the Edit menu and you choose Creative Suite Color Settings, Ctrl+Shift+K or Command+Shift+K once again. Now, if you get a warning at this point. If the Bridge gives you any guff whatsoever, you're not going to get anywhere.

Even if you own the full Creative Suite, sometimes the Bridge gets confused. That's our experience anyway. And you just have to reinstall the program or call Adobe Tech Support, or wring your hands or whatever there is nothing whatsoever I can do for you. However, if everything is installed properly, you should see this dialog box right here enlisted among your various Creative Suite Color Settings that are available to you, should be the one you just saved. In my case, that is Best Workflow right there. Now notice up here that it says Not Synchronized. And that's because I change Photoshop independently of the other Creative Suite programs.

Watch this though. After I click Best Workflow, and then I click Apply, like so. Then if I were to go back to the Edit menu and choose Creative Suite Color Settings once again, I will see that things are synchronized. Because the Bridge always synchronizes all applications so that they are uniform and in agreement with each other. All right! Let's cancel out of there. I'm going to switch back over to Photoshop and finally, I want you to see that I have two images open. One's called Profile on white.jpg and it comes to us from a photographer who goes by the name Shagin, and we also have Flowers three.jpg, which comes to us from Claudio Baldini.

Now notice this little asterisk in the title bar for Flowers three.jpg. You can see RGB/8*. That Asterisk before the end paren there, that means that this image uses a different color model than the Working Space. So we're working inside of Adobe RGB and yet this image, if we check it out. Go up to do Edit menu and choose the Assign Profile and you'll find out that this image is set to sRGB right there, and that's just fine. So you can open an sRGB image, while you're working in Photoshop inside the Adobe RGB space.

Photoshop automatically converts the image from sRGB to Adobe RGB on the fly, so that you can see it right on screen. You will be able to save the image as an sRGB image. If any of that sounds a least bit confusing, which I'm sure it did, just note this. Photoshop is always taking care of you. You don't have to worry about it at all. All right. So let's say I want to merge these two images. So I'm going to take this Profile on white.jpg image. And I'm going to go ahead and grab my Move tool right there. And I'm going to drag her up onto the other title bar like so, wait for Photoshop to switchover to the Flowers three.jpg image, drag my cursor back in to place and then I'm going to press the Shift key and drop that image like so.

And as soon as I drop it, the Shift key is just ensuring that one image is centered with respect to the other. So that's nothing special. What's going on here though is Photoshop is telling me that the image that I'm pasting is using the current working RGB space which happens to be Adobe RGB, but the Destination is weird. It's sRGB in this case and do you really want to do that? Do you want to make that conversion? Now the thing is your only option is to either say OK, yes I'd like to make the conversion or cancel out, and try to make the images match up with each other.

But even if you do that, you're still going to have to make the conversion. So really the only thing to do here is say Don't show again. So you don't have to worry about this malarkey in the future. Even though, you told Photoshop not to bug you about Color Settings. Back in the Color Settings dialog box, it still does every once a while. Say, Don't show again and then click OK, in order to make the drop occur. So once again, Photoshop is taking care of you. It's automatically converting the images, so that they match each other and even though, these two images are using a different color space. Flowers three.jpg is using sRGB and the other image, the original image, Profile on white.jpg is using Adobe RGB, notice that they exactly match each other on screen.

So this is the before image, this is the after image, they are exactly the same perceptually. Now, if you eye-drop them, the colors are different, but they look the same on screen. They are going to print the same. They are going to export to the web the same. I should make that clear by the way. If you go to the File menu and you choose Save for Web & Devices. Let's go ahead and move the image over here, so we can see it. Photoshop is set by default to Convert the colors to sRGB, because sRGB works best for the Web. So Adobe RGB works best for everything. sRGB best for the web. Again, Photoshop takes care of this transformation automatically for you.

I'm going to cancel out. But check this out. Now we can mix these two images together. I've got Layer 1 here, which is the profile, so I'll go ahead and change that layer name. The flowers are in the background. I want to merge them together. I'm going to change to the blend mode. You may recall feature #11, blend modes, the best darkening mode, Multiply in order to make this woman smell the bright beautiful flowers, all colors perfectly intact. Thanks to the amazing power albeit, with a little bit of difficulty of Color Settings inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40 .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Photoshop Top 40.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.