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In this Photoshop for Designers course, Nigel French focuses on the tools and features in Photoshop designed for choosing, applying, and editing color. The course looks at concepts such as the color wheel and color harmonies as well as the practicalities of using the Color Picker, leveraging the power of color channels, and the characteristics of different color modes in Photoshop. The course includes exercises on correcting color, enhancing color, shifting and replacing colors, working with spot color channels, hand coloring black and white images, and designing with a reduced color palette.
Here we are going to talk about Color Management, never was there a more thorny topic in Photoshop than that of Color Management. It's a very, very competent topic and one that I can't really do full justice to in a single movie. I'm going to point you in the direction of Chris Murphy's excellent title on the lynda.com Training Library it's called Color Management. He spent seven hours talking about it, he knows far more about it than I do, go and check it out. It's an excellent title. But in a nutshell, it's this.
Color Management is to make sure that we have consistent color. It doesn't make the color good. It just makes the color consistent and I am going to demonstrate how we use Color Management by creating a new document and I'm going to make this, let's say we'll have it be a screen size. I will make it 1024?768 and in this empty document, what I am going to do is I am going to fill it with a gradient.
I am going to choose my Gradient tool and then come to my Gradient panel and I am going to use this gradient and I am dragging from the top down to the bottom and that's going to give me a spectrum of colors. If I switch my Status area down here to show me the Document Profile, we can see that currently we have sRGB as the working profile. So what are working profiles first of all? I am going to go to the Edit menu and pull down to Color Settings, all of the Creative Suite applications, InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop have Color Settings under the Edit menu and you will have exactly the same options.
So currently I am working with this Settings file which means that my default RGB Working Space is sRGB and my default CMYK Working Space is U.S. Web Coated. What's that all about? Well, we've identified that there are different color modes or color spaces, but within those, there are different flavors, there's not just one type of RGB, there are several types of RGB. There is not just one type of CMYK, there are several types of CMYK.
In terms of the CMYK Profiles, these describe the kind of printer that you're sending your document to. They describe the capabilities of the printer. And these are the generic profiles that you are working with. You maybe able to talk to your printer and they can supply you with a profile specific to their printing device. The RGB Profiles and effectively we're working with either this one Adobe RGB (1998), most commonly used for print design, this one sRGB, most commonly used for web design or this one ProPhoto, most commonly used or widely used by professional photographers.
These are different flavors of RGB and the best analogy I can make is that they are like different film types. If you ever took photographs with different film types, you'll know that certain film types had particular qualities. Fujichrome was very different from Ektachrome, which in turn was different from Kodachrome. So these different color spaces, these different color gamuts are made up of a different set of colors. The way things are set up at the moment, this means that if I convert this RGB image to CMYK, this particular type of CMYK is going to be used and mostly I am going to click on More Options and we'll see that I have this the rendering Intent.
The best analogy I can make for a rendering intent is that these are like language dictionaries. Converting from RGB color to CMYK color we are converting from one language to another. This is the language dictionary that's used, you are going to get slightly different results according to what language dictionary you refer to, and it's not one necessarily better than the other, you try them and see, but the one that's going to probably work best most of the time is this one, Relative Colorimetric.
So when I leave that on there, and I make a conversion using the Mode menu, I'm converting from this RGB Working Space to this CMYK Working Space, using this particular rendering intent. If I wanted to change that on a case- by-case basis, I could rather than use Image > Mode > CMYK, I could use the Edit menu and pull-down to Convert to Profile where I can choose a different color profile and a different rendering intent.
So why have I painted this vivid spectrum and I have painted this vivid spectrum because most of these colors are out of gamut colors, meaning that these RGB colors that we are looking at do not exist in the world of CMYK, so that when we convert this file to a CMYK file, if indeed we need to, if we are going to print this on an offset printing press, then the colors are going to shift. Let's see what happens when we do that.
We are going to get this warning message telling us what we are about to do. Did you see that? We lose all the vivid saturation that we had in the RGB original and there's no getting it back, this is a one-way street beyond undoing what we just did. If I were to at a later stage convert this back to RGB we are not going to regain any of that vividness that has been lost. So this brings up several issues and I do put in the disclaimer here that this is about the most extreme example of this that you will ever see, but I want to hammer home this point.
You are going to lose colors. Things are going to change. This is the nature of the game. To some extent, it's about adjusting your expectations. Some people say that because things are going to look so different, let's get it over with and let's know what we're working with, so they make this mode conversion at the beginning of their workflow, and that's a very reasonable argument to make. I would say don't do that, retain it as an RGB image.
To which the counterargument is what's the point of looking at all these bright colors if you are not going to reproduce them this way, surely you want to look at the colors the way they are going to be reproduced, at which point I counter with you use the View > Proof Colors option. When we turn this on, what we're doing is we're seeing it as it will look in CMYK, but it's actually still an RGB image. Now we can in the Proof Setup, change to proof according to a different color profile should we want to, but we're currently using the Working CMYK Profile.
What's the Working CMYK Profile? It's that one that we saw in Color Settings, right there. So to my mind, the best workflow is to retain your image as an RGB image, just make sure that you have your Proof Colors turned on and then you can place this image into InDesign or into Illustrator and export as a PDF. I am just going to show you what I mean by that, I'm now going to save this and I am going to call it spectrum and I am going to save it in my Chapter 03 folder and I'll save it as a TIFF. That's fine.
And I'll click OK to pass through the TIFF Options and I am now going to create a New Document in InDesign where I will place that document that I just created. So in InDesign, it's gone back to looking really, really vivid the way it did before and of course, we are now potentially going to be tricking ourselves, thinking that we are going to get these bright saturated colors, setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Well, in InDesign, we have the same options, we have the same options to proof our colors and it looks exactly the same way. Here in InDesign, it tells us that that we are proofing according to the Document CMYK Profile. What's the Document CMYK Profile? There it is on the Color Settings. In InDesign and in Illustrator as well, you have the same Color Settings and at the moment, they are synchronized and that's important.
It means that InDesign Illustrator, Photoshop, they are all using the same Color Settings. I can't tell you which settings to use. That's going to depend upon how you are outputting your file and you should seek the advice of a printer, but I can say this much that whatever you use, you want to make sure they are the same in all three applications. How can you ensure that that is the case? What I am now going to do is change this to something else and this becomes unsynchronized.
Well, that's where Bridge comes in. Because in Bridge, we have this very useful feature Creative Suite Color Settings and we can choose this and we can just make sure that we apply one of these Settings files whichever is appropriate for the kind of work that you're doing, I'm now going to just reapply that one and if I now switch back to InDesign and then come to Color Settings, we see that we have Synchronized again.
So you will remember that I have placed my RGB Document, my RGB image in InDesign and I'm looking at it proofing my colors. InDesign is showing it to me the way it will look when it's converted into CMYK, but it's not yet CMYK and that's advantageous because RGB files are smaller, RGB files are easier to edit and when you've edited an image using your adjustment layers as you will certainly do, should you convert to CMYK, you will lose your adjustment layers.
adjustment layers are not kept across a mode conversion and by that I mean this. I am just going to add an adjustment layer to this. It doesn't matter what I do with it. Let's say I will just do that. Now when I convert this to CMYK, we will get this message, Changing modes will discard an adjustment layer; change mode anyway? If I click OK, then it's like I never applied that adjustment layer in the first place.
If I click Flatten, I retain the appearance, but I have lost the adjustment layer, I've lost all of the flexibility that the adjustment layer offered me. So I don't want to do that. I don't want to lose my adjustment layers. I want to keep them, I want to retain the editing flexibility that the adjustment layers offer me. So for that reason, am I laboring this? I know it's a difficult thing to get your head around, but for that reason, we want to retain our image as an RGB image, proof our colors and then, then when we output to a PDF, Export or PDF Presets, I am going to use Press Quality and I'm just going to call this test.
I am going to save it on my Desktop. Most importantly, we need to make sure that we are using a PDF Preset that will make sure that our colors are converted. I am going to come to my Output Options. Color Conversion > Convert to Destination. What's our Destination? It's our Document CMYK. What's our Document CMYK? It's that CMYK Working Profile that we chose in Color Settings that we synchronized across the whole suite of programs.
So now when I export that, what we are going to get is a PDF document and I forgot to actually say view after exporting. So there in Acrobat, is our resulting image and this now is a CMYK Document. And if you don't believe me, let's go to the View menu to tools > Print Production and we can look at our Output Preview and there we have the Color Separation plates, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.
We can turn those on and off individually and we've retained our original file as an RGB image which offers us maximum editing flexibility, smallest file size, and it's just all around, easier and less hassle. So if that seemed like hard work, that's because Color Management is hard work. It's a difficult thing to get a grasp of. I highly, highly recommend that you go and check out Chris Murphy's title in the lynda.com Training Library.
It's called Color Management. It's not easy, but he makes it about as digestible as a topic like this is possible to be.
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