If you send an image to the printer and you're not happy with the results, the first order of business is to identify what the problem is, where the shortcoming is. And there are two general sources of problems when it comes to a print that doesn't match what you see. Keep in mind that when it comes to color management, we're not really trying to get the print to match the monitor. That's what we really want of course, but it's not how color management works. Rather we're trying to make sure that the monitor display matches the information contained in the image file and then we're trying to produce a print that also matches that image file.
If the two don't match it means that either the monitor display is inaccurate or the print is inaccurate. In other words, if the monitor display is not accurate, it means that you've been making adjustments based on an incorrect view of the image. If the print is not accurate, then it probably means there's something wrong with your print setting or that you need a higher quality or more appropriate printer profile for your particular output settings. One of the tools that can prove very, very helpful in terms of figuring out where that problem might be is a target image that contains memory colors. Here I have the Photo Disk International target image, and this is one that contains a variety of objects, many of which you're probably already familiar with.
You can see a yellow sunflower, a lemon for example. There's some flowers up above. There's a color chart. There's a gray scale ramp. And we also have some skin tones. Down at the bottom. And among all of these objects. Some of them or probably many of them. Are familiar to you. In terms of what those colors should really look like. In the real world. With an image like this, when you're getting a mismatch between what you see on your monitor, and what you're getting in your prints, you can hopefully relatively easily identify the source of the problem. Simply open the image in Photoshop, for example.
And then print the image using your normal print workflow. Examine the differences between the two. If the monitor display looks good, then obviously the issue is either with your printer profile, with your print settings, or with the printer itself. If the monitor display doesn't look all that great, and the printer actually matches that display, then it suggests that your monitor profile may be inaccurate or there may be some other issue with your display. So using a sample image such as this can help you trouble shoot the source of those problems.
You can then go back and recalibrate your monitor for example or review your workflow, or perhaps obtain a different printer profile. Or use different paper with a profile that you know should be accurate. The point is, that by using a target image like this. You're able to better identify the source of the problem. So you know where to focus your energy to solve that problem.
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