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- A guided tour of Photoshop
- Setting up your environment
- Color modes, bit depth, and image resolution
- The Histogram
- File formats
- Basic adjustments
- Output workflow
Skill Level Beginner
Issues surrounding color management underscore everything we do in Photoshop. From the standpoint of wanting to make sure that the colors we produce are accurate. There are many things we can do to help that, such as calibrating our monitor display. And using the best printer profiles we can find when we're printing our own images. But there are also some color settings in PhotoShop that have an impact on how we work from the perspective of color management. Let's take a look at those settings. I'll go to the Edit menu and then choose Color Settings, and once I choose that option, the Color Settings dialog will appear.
Now there are quite a few options here, but actually only need to worry about a few of them. The first is your working space, there are a variety of options available here but only 3 that you really need to consider. Those are sRGB, Adobe RGB, and Pro Photo RGB. For most photographers, I recommend as a general rule, that you use Adobe RGB. This is a good wide gamma color space that will ensure you're able to produce colors that most printers are able to print. But what exactly is a color space? In short, a color space defines which colors are actually available to you as you're working on your image in Photoshop.
Depending on the bit depth that you're using for your images, there's a limit to how many colors you can use. Now even for eight bit per channel color images, that's almost 17 million colors. There's a lot of colors available, but still it is limited, and we need to define which colors are actually used to fill those almost 17 million slots. sRGB has a little bit smaller color gamut, but there are some work flows where it's actually preferred. And in fact, generally speaking, when I'm posting an image online, I'll convert it to sRGB before doing so. The Pro photo RGB color space is absolutely huge. So huge, in fact, that it contains colors that you can't actually see. The Pro photo RGB color space should only be used if you're working in the 16 bit per channel mode.
So, how do you make a decision. Well, as a general rule, if you don't know which option to use, I think you should use, Adobe RGB. If you're a wedding or portrait photographer, or another photographer, whose using an outside printing service with an sRGB workflow. Then you might want to use sRGB as your standard color space. And if you're a little bit more cutting edge, and you want to really maximize the range of colors available. So that in the future when we get better printers and monitors your images will already have those colors there, then you might want to use prophoto RGB. It's a popular choice for example among fine art photographers. So stick with Adobe RGB if this is at all confusing, but be aware that these other options do exist.
And consider them down the road if you change your over all work flow. You don't need to worry about CMYK or grey or spots. You can jsut ignore those options for the time being. But under color management policies you will want to consider what to do when you open an image that doesn't have the embedded profile that matches the working space. In other words where the Adobe RGB color space in this case is not embedded in the image. In those situations we can either turn color management off which is as far as I'm concerned is just a bad choice. We can preserve the embedded profile.
Which is a good choice if you tend to get images from other people. And you want to be able to explore those images before converting them to your working RGB space. Or you can use the Convert to Working RGB option. And this is the option that makes the most sense for most photographers, I would say. Because that insures that you're consistently working in the same color space. The color space that you've chosen as the best fit for your work flow. I'll go ahead and choose that option. And finally, down below we have a few check boxes. Basically asking us if we want Photoshop to let us know when there is a mismatch, or when there's a missing profile.
Generally speaking, I prefer not to be warned when there's a mismatch between profiles. And so I leave the "ask when opening" and "ask when pasting" checkboxes for mismatches Turned off. I just want the images to be converted to my working space. However, if there's a missing profile, then I do want to know. Because then I might need to do something special in order to deal with the color information in that photo. So I'll turn on the option for Missing Profiles so that Photoshop will ask me whenever that situation occurs. There's also a More Options button.
But you really don't need to worry about any of the options that are displayed when you click that button. The default values here are perfectly fine, especially if you're just getting started with Photoshop. So I'll go ahead and click the Fewer Options button, so that I get a smaller dialog. And then having established the color Settings the way I want them I'll go ahead and save them just to make sure I can easily get back to them at any time. I'll click the Save button, and then I'll type a name for my color settings. I'll just type my name in this case, and click Save and that will save those settings. We can also type a description. I'll just call this Tim Gray's color settings.
And when I click OK, you'll see that in the description, when I don't have my mouse over one of the other controls, we see that commentary. The Tim Grey's color settings text that I just typed. So now that I have everything established the way I want it and I've even saved those settings. I can go ahead and just click Okay to apply those settings in Photoshop.