Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop, part of Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced.
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In this movie I'll show you how to adjust your color settings to achieve what is generally the optimal experience inside Photoshop. Now, conceptually this is a challenging topic, however, the change itself is very easy to apply. Inside of a lesser application Photoshop would just go ahead and send off this RGB data to your monitor and your monitor would display it according to its factory default settings, which means that the image would vary from one monitor to the next. And you have probably seen this experience if you've ever gone into an electronic store and seen a bunch of televisions right next to each other, and you have noticed for example how the grass in the sport scene, let's say, up here is greenish or even yellowish on one screen, and more bluish on another screen.
And that's what happens if there's no color management. Photoshop, however, goes ahead and manages the color experience by assigning a profile to your RGB space. Now if you take a look at this Title Bar up here at the top of the screen, you'll notice in parentheses it says (Background) that's because the background is selected here inside the Layers panel. We are working with an RGB image, so Red, Green, and Blue. The /8 tells us that the bit-depth is 8 bits per pixel per channel and that defines how much distinction we have in the luminance range.
And then finally we are seeing an Asterisk (*). Now an asterisk outside the parentheses tells us that we have unsaved changes, but if it's inside the parentheses, that tells us that this image subscribes to a color profile that is different than the one that Photoshop is using by default, which is not a problem, by the way, that's perfectly okay, it's not going to cause you any problems whatsoever, and in fact, it's a good thing that there is a profile assigned to this image. So again, it doesn't vary from one screen to the next. The problem is that the profile that's assigned by default to Photoshop is not the ideal RGB profile, so here's what you do to change it.
You go out to the Edit menu and you choose the Color Settings command, or you press Ctrl+Shift+K or Cmd+Shift+K on the Mac. And then notice right here, by default here in the States, Settings is set to North American General Purpose 2, which means that the RGB working space is sRGB. Now well, sRGB is not a terrible space, I don't want to over-characterize this, it's not an ideal space, it's a very old profile definition and it's based pretty much on a worst case scenario computer monitor, the kind of thing you might have used on a PC back in the 1990s.
Now, it's considered the ideal color space for the Web and I'll come back to that in a moment, but I recommend you change it, whether you're creating Web graphics or print graphics to a better space, which is this one right here, Adobe RGB (1998). Now the only reason to use some other space such as ProPhoto RGB, is if you're typically working with 16-bit per channel images, and if you are, you know who you are, but otherwise for day-to-day work inside Photoshop, Adobe RGB (1998) is the best way to go.
And that's really the only change you need to make. Now if you are working with a specific commercial printer, you may be able to get a CMYK profile from them, so that you can achieve the best commercial printing results. But you need to talk to your commercial printer about that, if you don't have such a profile, I recommend you leave this option alone. Make sure that these color management policies are all set to preserve embedded profiles, that's very important, and that all of these checkboxes are off. Then what I recommend you do is go and save off your settings by clicking on the Save button and what I've been calling these settings for years now, is Best workflow.
So I will go ahead and enter that as my settings name. And then you have the option of entering some comments if you like. And I have gone ahead and copied some text to my Clipboard. So I will just press Ctrl+V or Cmd+V on the Mac to paste it in. And for one it's where the text reads: These are the settings that Deke recommends in his CS6 One-on-One courses for lynda.com. They ensure consistent color and printing across all CS6 applications, and we'll come to that in just a moment. Then I will click OK in order to save those settings and I will click OK again in order to accept my change.
And now notice up here in the Title tab, we're no longer seeing the Asterisk (*), because this image was already set to Adobe RGB in the first place. Now the only time you're going to see the image shift on screen is if it's not profiled in the first place, and if you run into that by the way, if you end up opening an image and it looks peculiar, looks different than you anticipated, then what you want to do is go up to the Edit menu and choose Assign Profile or if you've loaded dekeKeys, I have given you a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+F2 or Cmd+F2 on the Mac.
If you get an alert message, just say OK. And then what you want to do is go ahead and switch the profile for that image back to sRGB and it will look the same way it did in the first place. In my case, my image is changing on screen and that's because it was already set to Adobe RGB and that's the way I want to leave it. All right, so I am going to cancel out. Now one of the questions I frequently get from Web folks is shouldn't I be working in sRGB, isn't it a mistake to use Adobe RGB? And the answer is no, Adobe RGB is going to serve you better over time, because sometimes you are going to be printing your images and sometimes you want the best colors you can possibly achieve, and that's what Adobe RGB is going to do for you.
And also know, when you go to the File menu and choose the Save for Web command, that one of the options that Photoshop goes ahead and applies by default here is a conversion to sRGB, leave that checkbox on and everything is going go great. Your image will look exactly the way it's supposed to look inside of a Web browser. All right, I am going to go ahead and cancel out of here. Now there is just one more change that you need to make if you own the entire Creative Suite, this doesn't apply to those of you who own Photoshop by itself, but if you have one of the many variations on the Creative Suite, then you want to go up to the File menu and choose Browse in Bridge or press Ctrl+Alt+O or Cmd+Opt+O on the Mac and then here inside Bridge, you go up to the Edit menu and choose Creative Suite Color Settings.
Now if you do not see this command, or it does not work for you, it means that for whatever reason, Bridge is not recognizing that you own the entire Creative Suite. I am going to go ahead and choose the command, because it's going to work fine for me and then you want to select those settings you just saved, in my case Best workflow and then go ahead and click on the Apply button and that's going to apply those changes across all the other Creative Suite applications. Now note by the way, if you go up to the Edit menu and choose the command again, you are going to see the word Synchronized at the top of the dialog box, which tells you that all the Creative Suite applications are now set the same way, and that's very important, because that way you won't have any color shifting when you're switching images back and forth between say Photoshop and Illustrator or Photoshop and InDesign and so forth.
Anyway, my deed is done, so I am going to click the Cancel button in order to cancel out of that dialog box and that wraps up our look at advanced shortcuts and settings, here inside Photoshop and Bridge.
- Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
- Placing and blending Smart Objects in a scene
- Transforming and warping vector objects
- Correcting for lens distortion
- Mitigating halos and enhancing contrast with Shadows/Highlights
- Adding and editing points on a curve
- Editing multiple images in Camera Raw
- Creating a pro-quality sepia tone or quadtone
- Colorizing with blend modes and opacity
- Reducing and smoothing over noise
- Creating depth-of-field effects with blur
- Selecting with Color Range and Quick Mask
- Perfecting a mask with Refine Edge
- Drawing paths with the Pen tool
- Converting path outlines to vector masks