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Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.
Photoshop has a number of color management features whose goal is to make the colors you see on your screen match the colors in your prints or the colors on other people's screens, if you are making images for the Web. That's a challenge, because every printer and every computer monitor takes the raw numerical values that make up color and interprets them in slightly ways. You've probably seen that if you've ever been in a store that sells television sets, and they have the television sets lined up on the wall, all showing the same program, but the color looks slightly different on each set.
There are several things that you can do to help Photoshop try to keep color consistent for you. One of those things is to set up Photoshop's color settings properly, but even before you do that, I urge you to go out and buy or beg or borrow, however you can get one, get yourself a hardware device called a color remitter. A color remitter is a fancy name for a device that looks somewhat like a mouse or a hockey puck. It comes with software and together the software and hardware measure the way that your particular monitor reproduces color at this point in time.
It may set you back a couple of hundred dollars or so for a good color remitter, but it's well worth it, if you want your output to match what you see on your screen in Photoshop in terms of color. Now let me show you how to set up Photoshop's Color Settings. I am going to open the Color Settings dialog box from the Edit menu in Photoshop. This dialog box is one that some people find daunting. There are a lot of settings here, and the explanations are difficult. Color management is a really big subject, but the good news is you don't have to deal with every single setting here separately.
This field at the top that says Settings offers some presets that control all the settings below. So my advice is this. If you are primarily working to prepare images for print, then set this bundle of presets to North America Prepress 2, and if you are working primarily for the Web, set it to North America Web/Internet. Let me show you what happens when you choose the print settings, North America Prepress 2. That sets the RGB Working Space, or the color environment for editing RGB color files to Adobe RGB (1998).
That working space is particularly good for the purpose of printing files, because it offers a wide range of colors. Choosing North America Prepress 2 also changed some of the Color Management Policies down here, which are basically rules for how to handle color in any file that you open or in a new file. Rather than try to describe to you how this work, let me show you by opening some files now that we've made this change. I am going to click OK to accept these settings. And from Photoshop, I am going to jump over to Bridge, by clicking the Bridge icon in the Application Bar at the top of the screen.
If your Application Bar isn't showing, you can get to Bridge from the File menu and choosing Browse in Bridge. In Bridge, I have navigated to the Exercise Files on my Desktop and the Chapter03 Basics folder. And I am going to double click this thumbnail, flatirons_adobergb.psd, to open it in Photoshop. So the lesson to take from that is that when you open a file that was created in and has been stamped with, or tagged with the same color profile as your working space.
You get no special messages. You don't have to take any special actions when you open the file. If you look at the bottom of this particular image, you'll see this indication that this file has indeed been tagged with an Adobe RGB color profile. If you don't see that here, click the arrow to the left of this information field. Choose Show and choose Document Profile. I'm going to close this file without saving it by clicking the X here on the tab. And I'm going to go back to Bridge and open another file.
This one here, Orchid_srgb.psd. This particular file has attached to it a color profile that is different than the Adobe RGB working space that we have set up in Photoshop. This particular file has a sRGB color profile. I'll double-click this thumbnail and back in Photoshop I get this message. It's telling me that there is a mismatch between the color profile embedded in the file, which is an sRGB profile, and the color profile that is our working environment.
And it asks what I want to do. The answer depends on where the image came from. Let's say that this image came out of my camera. Many cameras automatically embed the sRGB profile in photographs. But it's not necessarily the space that you want to work in, because photographers love to have more colors available to them. So if you're working with a file that comes directly from the camera, you may want to convert its colors to your Adobe RGB working space by clicking here. However, if you got this file from another photographer who consciously attached to it the sRGB color profile, then you may want to accept that choice so that the colors on your screen look as close as possible to that photographer's colors on his screen.
But I'll leave this at Convert colors to working space for now, and I'll click OK and the image of the orchid opens. If I look at the document information field down at the bottom of the window, I see that it really has been converted into an Adobe RGB image. Let's close this one from the tab at the top of the screen here and let's open one more image. This is the third situation you may find yourself in. When you have an image like this one in Bridge that is untagged, that has no color profile attached to it.
I'll double-click door_untagged.psd, and this time I get a message that this file is missing a profile. It just doesn't have any embedded RGB profile. What would I like to do? Well, I would like to choose visually which profile I want on this particular photo. To make that happen, I am going to choose Leave as is (don't color manage) and then I'm going to go into Photoshop to choose the profile. So I click OK here, and the photo opens in Photoshop. And if you look at the bottom of the document window, you see that it really is untagged.
Now I am going to go to the Edit menu at the top of the screen, and I am going down to Assign Profile. That's the best choice when you have an untagged image, and you need to add a profile to it. I'll click OK at this warning and here in the Assign Profile dialog, I'll click the Profile choice. Then I'll use this dropdown menu to choose the color profile that I want to attach to this particular file. I am only interested in the profiles above this faint line here at the top.
And so I am going to go through those one by one, and see the results in my mage. So here is how it would look with an Adobe RGB profile. That's pretty much the way I saw the scene, so I like that one. Let's try Apple RGB. In this case I get a little bit duller result. sRGB, even duller, because sRGB is a narrower color range offering fewer colors. ProPhoto is another possible choice for photographs, but in this case I think it makes the image look too saturated.
And ColorMatch also doesn't look bad. In this case, I am going to stick with Adobe RGB and say OK. So that's how I recommend that you deal with the Color Settings dialog box and then how to handle files that match or don't match the working space that that you set up in Photoshop's Color Settings. One more thing, if you are using the Exercise Files to follow along with me in this course, you may want to go back into your Color Settings, from Edit > Color Settings, and change the preset to the default, which is North America General Purpose 2, and click OK.
And that way you won't get any warnings when you open most of the files used in this course. What we learned here is not all there is to color management. You'll have some more color management tasks to do when you save and print your images. And I'll cover those subjects in later movies on printing and saving.
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