Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Soft-proofing images, part of Photoshop CS5: Prepress and Printing.
In this section of the course, I'd like to show you how to create a soft proof. Probably good to start with the definition of what is a soft proof. A soft proof is a representation or simulation on screen of what your image is going to look like on the final output device. And in this case, our final output device is our printing devices. If you've worked in Photoshop very much or any other application for that matter and printed images your images on to a printer, you know how very valuable this could be, because usually the print version doesn't look exactly like it does on screen. Sometimes it looks very, very different.
Many a times your print images are not nearly as bright. The contrast isn't as good. The color saturation is very often lower on the print than it appears on screen. So being able to create a soft proof or a simulation of what it is going to finally look like is very, very useful before you actually start printing. Now, let's start off by saying that it's really useful for best accuracy if your monitor is at least calibrated and even better if it's fully color managed. But if you are sitting thinking oh, well my monitor isn't either one of those, this is still useful to you, because at least it's going to give you some idea of what's going to happen to your image.
Let's go ahead and show you how to create a soft proof on screen. We have two images here. We have the original and then we have the proofed version. As you know, throughout the course, I typically will make copies of images before I do anything to them. And in this case, it's very useful because you can see a side-by-side representation of the soft proof image, which we'll put on the right, and then the original. So not only can you protect the image that you're working with, but you can see a side-by-side comparison of the two. So to create a soft proof in Photoshop, we'll select the proof image first. We'll activate that image.
And we will go up to the View menu and you see we have this menu choice called Proof Setup. You may recall-- bacup just a second here. Let's go over to the Edit menu and bring up the Color Settings dialog box. You may remember we used this on several occasions earlier in the course, where we set up our working RGB space. Remember we'd used Adobe RGB (1998). And then, whatever final output device we are going to be. We're going to say it's U.S. Sheetfed Coated or it might be a GRACol press, or it might be a specific digital press such as this one. Let's just go over to the standard U.S. Sheetfed Coated.
These are the two color profiles that we would set up as your working spaces inside of Photoshop. Well, we are going to use these same color profiles. Now, if you are pretty savvy about color management, you are always working in this dialog box, and you know that this is set to U.S. Sheetfed Coated, go ahead and click OK there. And then we come underneath the View menu and we go to Proof Setup. You can just choose Working CMYK, because you know automatically, I've got that set the U.S. Sheetfed Coated. But a lot of us don't always keep that in the front of our minds as to what the color profile is that we would set for our working CMYK color space.
So what I recommend is instead go to the Custom portion here. And that brings up this dialog box that you see here, which allows you to completely control what the soft proof is going to look like. Now, you can see it says U.S. Sheetfed Coated v2. That's the same CMYK color profile that we just set in the Color Settings dialog box, so you can see whatever you set in the Color Settings dialog box will be the default here. But you could choose any other one that you wanted to at this point. If you decided oh, maybe I am going to put int on coated stock, you could try it there or maybe on a Web press.
But we'll stick with coated for now. Then take a look and see what happens with our image. Now, notice there is a little checkbox here with a preview. I am going to just move this down so we can take a look at both images. And notice when we choose this U.S. Sheetfed profile, turn it on and off like this, you can see what happens to the image on screen. We are creating a soft proof. Notice that the color is desaturated. Notice the overall brightness and contrast on the right side, the proof side, is not nearly as good. So we are getting a stimulation or representation of what it is likely going to look like or at least a lot closer to what it's look like on screen.
Now, not only can you choose the color profile, but you can change the rendering intent. Notice that this one is set by default on Saturation. We can choose-- and typically we wouldn't use saturation for printing an image. We would use something like Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual, one of those two. You can see that there's a difference. Now, I've chosen an image with a lot of very, very highly saturated colors so you can really see the difference on screen. Sometimes if you don't have a lot of saturated colors it won't be quite as obvious. I am choosing one that will make it obvious to you. But usually, it would be one of these two, Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual, depending upon the type of type of output device and the look that you want.
For most color-managed system, you probably use Relative Colorimetric. If you want the final image to have the same tonal value differences from one area of the image to the other one, you might choose Perceptual. But I recommend staying away from Saturation and unless your color management system calls for it also stay away from Absolute Colorimetric. So we'll go with Relative Colorimetric here. Once again, we can turn the preview off and on to see the impact. We can also simulate color and simulate black ink. We've turned on Black Point Compensation. So a black in the original image is going to be a black in the final image.
But notice the contrast is indeed lower. So we can turn this preview off and on in order to see this. We can do it on screen in this dialog box or we can just set this up, don't put the preview one here and then come up underneath View again and see the Proof Colors, the Command+Y on the Mac, Ctrl+Y on Windows. And now I will do that with the keyboard Command+Y. Turned it off, turned it on, turned it off, turned it on. I am just holding on the Command key and toggle on the Y or Ctrl key on Windows and toggle on the Y to see the impact of the proofing. And notice that the image that is active is the one that shows you the proof, which is why this side-by-side view is really nice, so you can always have the on screen version here and then see what the impact is over here. Okay.
So that's how you create a soft proof in Photoshop. You'll notice a couple of things here. One is that I have got a nice gray background that I have created. That's because I have turned on my application frame. When you are trying to view colors, it's really a good idea to have neutral backgrounds. Go ahead and try this. Go underneath View, go under Proofing Setup and then take a look at a couple of different profiles. Let's just look at a few here. Here is the Coated. Let's go to Uncoated and turn on the preview. Notice the difference from the Coated. Things get worse when you go to Uncoated. If you want to really get depressed, come down here to Newsprint.
It's enough to deter you from ever printing on a newspaper press again. Again, the accuracy of this is really going to depend upon how color managed your monitor is, how accurate your monitor is. But at least it's going to send you down the right road and really show you in what direction your image is going to change when you finally go to print it. So there is soft proofing. Working in Photoshop it's not difficult at all to set it up. You just have to know about which profiles to set.
- Understanding RGB and CMYK bit depth
- AM versus FM screening
- Working with device color gamuts and profiles
- Making image adjustments before printing
- Choosing the correct file format for output
- Assigning spot and process colors
- Comparing editable and raster type
- Sharpening for print
- Printing to grayscale
- Proofing images
- Recording actions to automate printing-related tasks