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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I want to introduce you to a very special file that I've crafted for you. That will help you gauge how well your colors are printing from Photoshop. You'll find this image inside the exercise_files folder, then go into the 11_printing subfolder. I'm looking at the eight images inside of this folder here inside the Adobe Bridge. Notice what we have is a variety of different flesh tones from these cool pale flesh tones in the image called Infamously blue.jpg. All the way to these very dark skin tones, this gentleman right here happens to be the darkest of our people.
It's found inside Couple against red.jpg. We have a variety of different skin tones in between. All of these photographs come to us from Jason Stitt of the Fotolia Image Library, about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. Now seven of these images are flat JPEGs, and they are essentially the photographs that I've downloaded from Fotolia without any modifications. The one exception is this file, The joy of color.psd, and it's a fairly elaborate layered composition that you can modify to taste as I'll demonstrate.
So what I'd like you to do is go ahead and open this file inside of Photoshop. Notice in addition to these wonderful flesh tones, this brightly colored sweater and so on, we also have these colored chicklets. Once again that will help you gauge the color accuracy of your output. Now these aren't necessarily calibrated to any specific standard. I'll explain how they work, but they are very useful as a subjective test. Now notice that this image is an RGB image. This confuses a lot of people I find. Most folks seem to be under the impression that when you're printing an image it needs to be CMYK.
That absolutely is not the case. 99% of the time, in fact when you're printing from Photoshop, you're printing an RGB image. The reason is because you're most likely printing to a local composite color printer that is a color inkjet printer or a color laser printer. That's actually hooked up to your computer or to your network if you're working inside of an office let's say. But that still qualifies as a local printer. In other words, you don't have to e-mail the file or throw it on a hard drive or somehow transport it to a different location.
Now when you're printing to inkjet printers and color laser printers and like, these printers aren't necessarily using cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks or toner. They may be using some other combination. And in any event, they are designed to accept RGB imagery. All they need is a characterized RGB image. And In our case what we have is an Adobe RGB image because we set things up that way, way back in the introduction to the series. Then the printer driver goes ahead and converts the RGB colors over to whatever inks or toner combination is required to represent those colors.
And the printer driver is going to do a heck of a lot better job than Photoshop is because Photoshop doesn't know what's going on with that specific printer. All right, so once again we're working inside of RGB. The only time you work inside of CMYK is when you're preparing an image to be output commercially. So if you're placing it inside of say Illustrator or InDesign and then you're going to shuttle that document from Illustrator or InDesign to a commercial printer for four color reproduction, then possibly you want to be working with CMYK images inside of Photoshop.
But often times, you'd even want to give an RGB image to your commercial printer and let them do the conversion from RGB to CMYK. It's something to discuss with your commercial printer in any event. All right. Let me walk you through what's going on with these chicklets right here. The first column of chicklets is the standard six primaries: red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta represented using RGB values. So this red chicklet right there is full on red 255 with 0 green and 0 blue. And the yellow is full on red and full on green so 255 each for those and then 0 blue and so on.
The next column is those very same six primaries represented using CMYK values. Now we're working inside of an RGB image, very important however, I use CMYK values to represent these colors, as a result they're little dimmer, they're little less saturated, they should print more or less this way. It's very unlikely. If you were to output these colors to a color laser printer in particular, that these two reds would look identical to each-other and these two yellows would look the same and these two greens would look the same and so on. Because it's very likely this first column of colors is out of your printer's gamut.
All right, next what we have is the collection of flesh tones. So we have the cool flesh tones represented by these first three swatches. Then the warm flesh tones down here. Then we have a selection of neutral gray values from white descending down to black. Now this next group over here, the second group of colors, these are your classic Macbeth Colors. So if you're familiar with the Macbeth chart, those of you who are photographers, then you will be familiar with these colors as well. I just want to include those colors for those of you who are used to them.
What I suggest you do is output this image, see how well it prints and that will give you a good idea of what kind of changes you might need to make as we wander through these exercises. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to modify this document to make it look exactly the way you want.
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A: These days, it's easier to assign the workflow settings manually. In Photoshop, choose Edit > Color Settings. Then change the first RGB setting to Adobe RGB, and click OK.
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