Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Customizing color settings, part of Photoshop CS4: Image Compositing for Photographers.
Before you get started making composites, take a minute to customize the Color Settings in your copy of Photoshop. The Color Settings are part of the color management system that Photoshop uses to help you match the colors that you see on your monitor as you're creating a composite, to the colors that your audience will see when you output the file to print or to screen. To access Color Settings, I'm going to go to the Edit menu, and I'm going to go down to Color Settings, and that opens this big Color Settings dialog box.
Fortunately, I don't have to deal with all of the fields here. Instead, I can just work with this umbrella setting, here at the top of the dialog box. When I'm preparing a composite, I work differently in his dialog box than I might if I were about to work on a single image. I start by going to the Settings menu and changing it to North America General Purpose 2 and this will affect all of the rest of the settings in the dialog box. Now, if I'm preparing a composite that is destined for a desktop printer, I'll accept all of the default settings for North America General Purpose 2 with the exception of one setting, and that is the RGB Working Space.
The RGB Working Space identifies the color environment in which I'll be working in Photoshop on a RGB color mode image, and I generally do work with photographs in the RGB color mode. When I'm preparing a composite for print, I want to have access to a broad range of colors. So, I'm going to change the RGB Working Space from the narrow sRGB color space to a broader color space. I might choose ProPhoto or ColorMatch.
In most cases, I'll just choose Adobe RGB (1998), a color space that does have a wider range of colors than the sRGB color space. If I were about to prepare a composite for print, I would accept all of the other default settings here and click OK. But I'm not going to do that because now I want to show you how I would set up my Color Settings if I were creating a composite to be viewed on screen and that includes composites that I plan to upload to a website or post to an online sharing site, like Flickr or Facebook, or maybe email to someone, or even include in a presentation that I'm going to project from my computer.
And this is also the workflow that I recommend if you happen to be using the exercise files that accompanied this course as you work through the course with me. First, I'm going to go back to the RGB working space area and I'm going to choose instead of Adobe RGB, sRGB. Now, as I said, sRGB is a relatively narrow color space. It doesn't offer as many colors as does the Adobe RGB color space. It's best to choose sRGB as the working space for an image destined for the screen, because that narrow color space best simulates the narrow color space of most monitors that my audience is going to be using when they view my work on screen.
I also want to point out this setting down here, Ask When Pasting. This is unchecked, by default, when I choose North America General Purpose as the umbrella setting. And I like to leave Ask When Pasting unchecked when I'm working on a composite. If I don't and I then try to combine images that were created in different color environments, say combining an Adobe RGB image within sRGB image, Photoshop is going to pop up warnings asking me what I want it to do about color management. Warnings like that not only interrupt my compositing workflow, but they also ask questions that are very hard for most people to answer.
So, rather than have to deal with those warnings, I like to get everything set up in advance here and leave Ask When Pasting unchecked. So now, I'm going to click OK and I'll be ready to create a composite destined for the screen. I happen to have two images open that were created in two different color spaces. I'm going to click on this first tab with the first image activated, the one with the green note. I'm going to go down to the document information area at the bottom of the document window, click the arrow there and choose from the Show menu, Document Profile.
I can now see, here in the Document information area, that this image contains a color profile identifying it as an sRGB image. A color profile is just a little bit of textual information embedded in the file that says, "Hey, this image was created in a sRGB color environment." Now I'm going to click on the Document tab for another image that I have open, and that's this bluenote, and when I look at the Document information area I've already set it to show the Document Profile, and I can see that this image has an Adobe RGB color profile embedded in it.
So with the color settings that I've chosen, what's going to happen if I try to bring this bluenote, created in the Adobe RGB space, into the greennote image that was created in the sRGB color space? To do that, I'm going to go up to the Application bar and I'm going to click on the Arrange Documents menu and then I'm going to click on this arrangement of documents, the 2 Up vertical arrangement. So now, I can see both images on my computer screen. Then I'm going to go get my Move tool in the toolbar.
I'm going to click on the blue image document tab. I'll go to the Layers panel and make sure that bluenote layer is selected and then I'm going to come into the blue image and just drag that bluenote layer into the green image and when I see this bounding box in the green image, I'll release my mouse. Now, I'm going to do that many times, and in lots of different ways, in the movies to come, so I'm just going over quickly here. But the important point for this discussion of color management is that when I brought in the Adobe RGB image into this sRGB image, I didn't have to deal with any warnings.
Instead, because of the color settings that I just chose, Photoshop automatically converted that bluenote into the sRGB color space of the destination image. So, using the Color Settings that I showed you in this movie will help you to avoid warnings as you make composites, and it will help you to match your output to your editing workspace. But in order to get that to happen, you have to remember to do two other things. First, get yourself a small hardware device called a colorimeter. Those are made by a number of third- party companies and follow the instructions in a colorimeter to both profile and calibrate your monitor to get it set up for color management.
And secondly, after you're done creating a composite like this and you're ready to save it, remember to embed the color profile in the saved document. I'll show you that by going up to the File menu at the top of the screen and down to Save As. In the Save As dialog box, take a look at the Color section and make sure that there is a checkmark next to Embed Color Profile. You won't be able to choose which color profile to embed. That will already have been decided by what goes before, but you do want to embed that color profile so that the output device, whatever it may be, recognizes the color environment in which the file was created.
And at this point, I will click Save to save a copy of this composite image with the sRGB color profile embedded and if I get a maximize compatibility warning like this, I'll just click OK.
- Preparing photos in Adobe Camera Raw
- Customizing color settings for compositing
- Compositing with selections and masks
- Extending depth of field with compositing
- Creating panoramas and photo montages
- Incorporating text in photo composites