CHROMiX ColorNews Issue #24 - How Do I Get My Printer to Match My Screen?
Welcome to ColorNews, a periodic update on things related to Color Management. We strive for a periodic newsletter of high value to our customers. Please let us know your interests so we can address these concerns in future issues.
C H R O M i X C O L O R N E W S
Table of Contents
1. Shows and Events
SHOWS & EVENTS
October 15th - 18th, 2006, NAPL GraphEXPO and Converting Expo 2006 USA, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL. Regarded as the USA's most comprehensive prepress, printing, converting, and digital equipment trade show and conference, it is estimated that over 40,000 industry professionals will attend this event. Click here
November 2nd - 4th, 2006, PhotoPlus Expo, Javits Convention Center, New York, NY. This show has become the premiere event for professional photography. Click here
November 6th - 8th, AdTech, New York Hilton, New York, NY. This is an advertising and technology conference focusing on brand marketing. Click here
December 3rd -5th, 2006, GATF/PIA Color Management Conference, Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, Phoenix, AZ. This is the largest and best conference dedicated to color management in photography, design, production, and print.
December 7th, 2006, Pacific Northwest Color Management Users Group, 'Color Management of InDesign CS2'. The featured speaker, back by popular demand, is Steve Laskevitch; 6:30 to 9:00 PM, The Oregonian Conference Center, Portland, OR.
January 7 - 13, 2007, MacWorld Conference and Expo, San Francisco, CA. THE show for everything Mac.
CHROMiX announces the release of ColorValet Client, the first free downloadable software to simplify remote printer profiling. ColorValet Client automates printing the target and download of the custom profile when available. Simply download the software, follow the instructions for printing the target, and send the target to CHROMiX. CHROMiX then creates a high-quality profile, which the Client software automatically downloads and installs in the proper location on the customer's computer, ready to use with every application, printer driver, and RIP that supports profiles. CHROMiX stores user's profiles in a secure private area on their servers so they are available for download at any time. Check it out:
CHROMiX is excited to introduce ColorWiki.com, the first open-source, open-forum wiki devoted exclusively to color management information. With ColorWiki, you can find information about color management topics and tools, and contribute your own knowledge to help develop this open, cooperative community whose focus is to further public knowledge of color management. We also have a unique setup in that some articles are 'reserved'. These articles retain their copyright and are not editable by general wiki users. While this may seem restrictive, it allows us to publish articles of many different types such as manuals, technical articles, papers, etc. So if you have an article you would like published, please let us know. We hope you enjoy it and find it useful!
ColorThink Pro Manual on ColorWiki
Which brings us to - the ColorThink Pro Users Manual is now officially available! We have included it as part of the ColorWiki site, and invite all ColorThink Pro users to help update and add to this dynamic manual as you find new uses for the software. We have been working on this idea for quite a while, and hope you like it as much as we do! Let us know what you think:
Our ColorThink Pro WebEx Training Classes have been highly successful, judging from the feedback we have received. The WebEx class, which consists of one two-hour session and one one-hour session, is taught by Steve Upton, designer and developer of ColorThink. The first two hours cover fundamental and intermediate use, and touch on some advanced concepts. The second session, held at a later date agreed upon by class attendees, focuses on advanced concepts and questions. The class is presented in this manner to allow plenty of hands-on time with the program before the final hour of training. Interested? All you need is a current browser, and ColorThink Pro. Pricing: $625, which includes an upgrade from ColorThink to ColorThink Pro and the Webex training; $725 if you are starting from scratch (no upgrade) for the training and the whole ColorThink Pro program; or $450 for the Webex class only. For more information or to register, call sales at 866-CHROMiX x1, or email sales(at)chromix.com.
ColorThink Pro has a new beta release (3.0.1b7) now available on the ColorThink Downloads page. Most issues reported to us from previous versions have been addressed in this version.
Color, Product & Industry News
X-Rite has begun the consolidation of product lines acquired in the purchase of GretagMacbeth.
Here's a current list of discontinued products with their last-available dates.:
October 1, 2006 - X-Rite ATS, ATD, ATS Pub and ATD News.
X-rite says they will continue to support all of these products for seven years, or until the hardware becomes obsolete.
Also from X-rite, the Eye-One iSis automated chart reader, possible successor to the DTP-70, is expected to be released by year-end. The instrument automatically adjusts for misalignments during chart feeding, can feed a chart without pressing any buttons, and, once chart feeding begins, the measurement procedure starts automatically. With two sizes available, the larger version, the A3+, allows for more than 2,500 patches to be printed on one A3 page, with no cutting necessary for A3 papers. The A3+ version also allows long charts to be measured without cutting (optimal for large format printing). Because the iSis has LED technology for the illumination, no lamp replacements are required. A UV Cut feature will be available as well.
Eizo announces the ColorEdge CG-211 and CG-211-N, carrying on the ColorEdge tradition of cutting-edge advancements. These new models, the replacements for the popular CG-210) are expected to be available by year- end. The new models have the same excellent panels, components and precision as the old one, and now includes an integrated circuit to control uniform color and brightness across the screen (a Uniformity Regulator). The addition of this regulator is the icing on the cake for an already fabulous monitor. For more product information, see Eizo.com
Epson officially announced the new Stylus Pro 3800 at Photokina in Germany. Smaller and lighter than the Stylus 4800, the 3800 prints to 17" wide format, has 9 inks, and employs the UltraChrome K3 pigment ink-set. Expected street price is $1299 for the standard unit, and around $1500 for the Pro Edition (includes ColorBurst RIP). We think this printer will be a high volume winner. Due out in December, but don't expect any until January. Check it out: Click here
Hewlett Packard has announced a ground-breaking closed-loop proofing solution called the HP DesignJet Z Photo Printer Series. The Z Series boasts accurate proofs quickly and easily whether you're familiar with color management or not, and includes an embedded Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer, Adobe Lightroom, and your choice of RIPs. This unique printer line, available in two models, Z2100 and Z3100, both in 24" and 44" sizes, provides the ability to automate calibration, linearization and ICC profiling with HP Automated Closed-Loop Color Calibration. According to a reliable source who looked closely at this solution at Photokina, this thing is for real and only takes minutes to auto calibrate and then have a highly accurate simulation proof match.
Apple released Aperture v1.5 ($299) at Photokina, Cologne, Germany September 25th. Among the many new features is an export API that extends the Aperture workflow to third party applications and services. These plug-ins include a wide range of printing, publishing and storage workflows that take advantage of this new architecture. New plug-ins are also available from Getty Images, iStockphoto, Pictage, Flickr, PhotoShelter, DigitalFusion, Soundslides and Connected Flow. Several new adjustment tools are also included. For more:
IDEAlliance has both the characterization data set and the digital proofing form for both SWOP and GRACoL available for download.
CHROMiX, a certified G7 expert, was selected to work with IDEAlliance and Don Hutcheson to create the new GRACoL/SWOP G7 plate-curving and gray balancing software called 'IDEALink Curve'.
This Month's Feature Article
How Do I Get My Printer To Match My Screen?
by Pat Herold, CHROMiX's Tech Guru
I get to hear first hand what many of you are struggling with when you call for help, so I thought I'd answer a question we often hear: getting your monitor to match your printer.
(Wait a minute. Wasn't there a ColorNews article on this topic a long time ago? Well, yes. Issue #2 of CHROMiX ColorNews from April of 2001 was on the topic of "Screen to Print Matching." However, in our daily business of answering customers' questions here, a shift has occurred in the past 5 years. You may not have noticed, but a lot has changed in the digital world in the past 5 years.)
In the past, a fair number of the people interested in color management were involved in the press industry, digital photofinishing, and maybe on the cutting edge of digital camera development. These days we've seen a great increase in the number of digital photographers out there. There is a steady stream of photographers who migrate over to digital, only to find themselves scratching their heads over how to achieve these stunning results (in color control) they keep hearing about.
A lot of times, a newbie will have picked up a few pieces of the puzzle, but won't have the whole picture put together.
"I just bought a new $1000 monitor; why doesn't my screen match my prints?"
So I have in mind the private photographer who is working in Adobe Photoshop to get his on-screen image to match his inkjet printer. You veterans of color management may find this article to be something of a review, but I'd bet you know someone who needs to understand this topic, and you could hand this on to them. Plus, I'd like to put a special emphasis on soft-proofing, a sometimes forgotten and-often times misunderstood aspect of this process.
There are at least five items needed to match a digital image from a computer screen to an inkjet printer.
- A properly calibrated monitor
Usually the best place to start in getting a color-managed workflow is with the monitor. In the old days a CRT monitor would come from the factory with its RGB color guns blasting at full force. This would result in a white point of somewhere around 9300 degrees Kelvin which looked very blue. Out of the box, modern LCD monitors make at least a reasonable attempt to have their back-lights put out something close to daylight color. On my desk I have a nice LaCie 321 with a very respectable white point of about 6100, and next to it, a bargain-basement LCD with a native white point of almost 7000 - rather blue.
=== How to Calibrate the Monitor ===
Adobe Photoshop comes with a small utility called Adobe Gamma that can be used to adjust your monitor "by eye" in order to get close to the correct color and brightness/contrast. On Mac systems you also have the Display Calibrator Assistant. Of course, these methods are "by eye" and, as I said already, our eyes have a way of "white-balancing" themselves to whatever colored light is prevalent. So our eyes can be fooled, and it is best to depend on something that will give you a dependable, consistent correction of your monitor's peculiarities: a colorimeter.
Variously referred to as a "puck," a "spider", a "thing that hangs on the screen" - these colorimeters have come up in quality and down in price enough so that they are attainable for the serious photographer. A colorimeter is a hardware device that will allow you to calibrate and profile your monitor so that the white point and every color point along the spectrum is consistently and dependably adjusted to be where it should be. These can be purchased from a number of reputable vendors, including CHROMiX.
The procedure is similar with most modern colorimeters:
Now you have your monitor all adjusted and giving you an accurate presentation of what your digital image "really looks like" - at least as far as your monitor is capable of producing it.
Your inkjet printer will print colors differently than will your neighbor's printer - just as your toaster will toast bread differently than your neighbor's toaster. An ICC color printer profile will characterize how a printer handles color, and makes it possible for color input from all different situations to be handled intelligently when it gets printed.
=== "Canned" profiles ===
Each printer driver comes with ICC color profiles that are specifically designed for the papers that the printer manufacturer sells. For example: An Epson printer will come with profiles like "Epson Premium Luster". These are designed to correctly print color onto this same kind of paper in your printer. If you are printing with Epson Premium Luster paper, then you would choose this profile when you print.
If you are printing on other brands of paper, you will find there are few profiles supplied for alternate media and, since they are "generic", you may not get the perfect color you are looking for. Also, there can be minor differences in consistency between different printers even if they are of the same model. So, even with manufacturer-supplied profiles with manufacturer paper, a precise color match might not be achievable.
=== Custom Profiles ===
Custom profiles are made specifically for one printer, with one ink set, with one paper type (and one lighting condition). These present the highest level of accuracy that can be achieved with printer profiles.
Software and hardware packages are available whereby users can print up their own profiling targets, measure them, and create these custom profiles themselves. These packages usually include software that generates ICC profiles, and a spectrophotometer that is capable of reading reflective measurements. The cost of these packages runs from $600 to several thousand dollars depending on quality and extent of features.
As an alternative to "doing it yourself" there are service providers who supply custom printer profiles over the web. There is a cost advantage to using a service provider, especially if you only need a small number of profiles. In addition, many people find that allowing a service provider to do their profiling makes life simpler for them. Finally, it is possible to get a better profile from a competent profiling service than one can make oneself - without investing in several thousand dollar's worth of equipment.
The usual procedure is:
=== RGB or CMYK ===
It is useful to know whether your printer will be considered an RGB device or a CMYK device. This cannot be determined merely by reading the color names of the print cartridges, or by counting the cartridges. Most inkjet printers will use at least four standard inks: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black - yet most inkjet printers will need to be profiled as RGB devices. Generally, if a driver is used to submit images directly to the printer, then it should be profiled as an RGB device. If you are printing through a RIP, then you might be looking at a true CMYK process. CHROMiX provides a test image which you can print and use to determine which arrangement you have.
=== ColorValet Client ===
CHROMiX has just created a new service which makes this process even easier. Our ColorValet service now features a "Client" application that you can download onto your computer. The Client walks you through target printing and shipping, and even the profile installation process once we've finished the measurement! It's easy and fun and almost impossible to make a mistake! (Steve keeps a proper reserve when writing ColorNews articles and holds back on promoting CHROMiX services, but I HAVE NO SUCH COMPUNCTION!)
Here are important points to watch for when printing your profiling target:
- The printer must be in top working order when printing the target.
Before you send it, inspect your target for any type of imperfection. A quick review and, if necessary, reprint at this point in the process could save lots of time and effort, and get your color matching issues resolved that much more quickly.
OK. I have a custom ICC printer profile. Now what?
WHERE TO PUT IT:
If you want system-wide access to the profile (i.e. all users), it belongs in
If you would prefer to make your profiles available only to one user,
When you are ready to print your image in Photoshop, you will:
You want the conversion to the printer profile to happen in only one place. And Photoshop is the most dependable place around.
You've got a monitor profile for your recently-calibrated monitor. You also now have a well-made printer profile that you are printing through. Your profiled monitor is presenting to you your image as accurately as it can, given the limitations of the color gamut of the monitor. Your printer profile is printing your image in an intelligent way so that it looks as good as it can, given your intents, and given the limitations of the printer. Anybody see what's missing? Monitors are capable of showing colors that printers cannot print (like saturated reds, blues and greens.) And printers can produce colors that are out-of-gamut for most monitors (like some cyans.) Soft-Proofing allows you to look at your image in Photoshop THROUGH the printer profile, so you can see what your image will look like when it gets printed through the profile.
- Open the image in Photoshop
The monitor now shows what the image will look like when it gets printed, with all the limitations and color adjustments that the printer and its profile will accomplish. This "soft-proof" should match fairly closely to what gets printed through the same profile.
You can also save this whole setup as a "proof setup file" with a name you choose, so you can quickly view an image through this soft-proof any time you want to see what your image will look like when printed.
No ColorNews article is ever complete without a little bit of Geek Talk, so let's talk about the "Preserve RGB/CMYK Numbers" check box. (In pre-CS2 versions of Photoshop this is just the "Preserve Color Numbers" box.)
Some of you will want a printer profile to print through when you are printing. I'm thinking of a professional photographer who has an inkjet printer connected to your computer directly. You are doing this soft-proofing so you can see what your image will look like after you go to the Print with Preview window and print your photo using the custom profile. When you are at this proof setup stage, you will want to leave the Preserve numbers box UNchecked. You don't want Photoshop to keep the numbers that make up your colors the same. You want them to change; you expect the color numbers to change because you are sending the image through a profile, and that's what a profile does - it changes the color numbers to something else.
Some of you will want to use a printer profile to merely view what a printing system is going to do when you hand off your image to it. I'm thinking of a press operator who is going to send something through your press, or a minilab operator who has made a profile of their Fuji Frontier, or just a photographer who is going to send his image to a lab to be printed. In this case, you have a printer profile (perhaps supplied to you by the out lab, or a custom profile made by someone like CHROMiX for your Frontier) and you are going to hand over your image to this printing system, and no profile conversion is going to happen downstream from where you are. In this case, you would CHECK the Preserve RGB/CMYK Numbers checkbox, and Photoshop will display what that printing system will do to your image when you hand it straight over (without converting to that profile.) With this box checked, you ARE going to keep the device numbers that make up your color the same, and then hand it over to the downstream printing process, and that printing process is going to do whatever it will to your image. The profile you are using has captured that effect, and you are bringing that profile to bear to display what that downstream effect is going to have on your image. Have I said this enough times? I try to say the same things in different ways in the hopes that one of them will make sense!
Still doesn't match? Here are some finer points to consider:
This is not really a minor point, but it is one that many overlook easily. An image displayed on a monitor that is balanced to a daylight white point cannot be expected to match a print viewed under normal household lighting conditions. You can't hold your print under your 65 watt GE table lamp and expect it to look like your calibrated monitor. And you can't trust your eyes to tell you what light sources are "white". (Yipes! Who can you trust?!) Many colorimeters have software that will allow you to take ambient light measurements. Look into getting some form of daylight-balanced lighting.
===The White Paper Test===
Open a blank image in Photoshop (with a white background) and hold up a sheet of your printing paper. If the white of the screen does not match the white of the paper, you will not have success getting the actual monitor image to match the print. You can change your lighting to match the monitor, or you can adjust your monitor to match your lighting. It is easier to do the latter, but it is more proper to do the former.
EYES AND A BRAIN (perception)
I'm actually not trying to be insulting. I just want us to keep in mind that color is not a THING, but the result of a PROCESS of perception - and a rather complicated process at that. Light from the sun shines on an object. The light that is NOT absorbed by the object bounces off of it and enters the eye, and the eye INTERPRETS that visual signal in the brain as a certain color.
If you have waded through all the above and something is still not matching, then (how do I say this diplomatically) you might want to consider whether you are falling victim to one of many common optical illusions. Maybe your brain is playing tricks on you.
We underestimate how easily our eyes can be fooled. Our eyes adjust to the available illuminant, so you can think you are looking at something of neutral color that actually is not. Our eyes are very good at noticing the subtlest change in color when two samples are viewed side by side, but we don't have a very good memory for color. We can't really remember what particular shade of color was on a flower we shot yesterday, and then successfully compare it to the picture we're looking at today.
Even the colors in our environment (the color of the walls, etc.) will affect how we perceive what we're looking at. People who are serious about accurate color perception go to the point of painting the walls gray, and wearing gray lab coats over regular clothing, when making decisions about images. (They probably are not much fun at office parties, but I'm sure their mothers love them.)
Also, when we are used to looking at a favorite picture and seeing it a certain color, we notice any change and tend to think that the change is "wrong". Consider the possibility that what you have gotten used to is wrong, and now what you are looking at is right for the first time. This is a tough thing for a lot of people to believe. "Seeing is believing," right?
At CHROMiX we like to collect examples of optical illusions. Here is a link to a website that features many interesting optical illusions concerning our color perception.
Hopefully this shake your confidence in believing everything you see.
If you are still thinking that YOUR eyes aren't susceptible to these kinds of illusions, here is an excellent example of an optical illusion from our ColorWiki:
If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, the dots will remain only one color, pink.
Use a neutral test image. And by neutral I mean an image with known neutral colors (this can be verified using the eye dropper in Photoshop and reading 128, 128,128, for example). We like to use the Fuji Test image because it has a wide variety of saturations & image scenes - and the background behind the pitchers in the Fuji Test image is truly neutral. You can find other test images on the home page of the ColorWiki.
Are you printing with the same rendering intent that you are using to soft-proof?
=== Is the color within your device's ability to reproduce? ===
Due to gamut differences between your image, monitor and printer, colors on the monitor may not be printable (e.g., saturated blues, greens and reds), and colors not visible on the monitor may appear on the print (often cyans).
=== Profiling workflow vs. production workflow ===
When monitors and printers are not matching, the cause is frequently traced to some change between how the profiling target was printed, and how the regular production work is now being printed with the profile. Ideally, these two paths should be identical - except, of course, for the fact that while printing the target NO color management is used, and during production color management IS used in one (and only one) place to convert the image using the profile as it goes to the printer. The profile captures the characteristics of a printing process at a certain place in time. If something has changed, then your color might have changed. Sometimes, all you can do at the end of the day is make a new profile.
Thanks for reading,
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Entire Contents of CHROMiX ColorNews (c)2006 CHROMiX, Inc. CHROMiX, ColorThink, ColorNews, ColorSmarts, ColorGear, ColorForums and Profilecentral.com are trademarks of CHROMiX Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. CHROMiX ColorNews is intended as an informative update to CHROMiX customers and business associates. We are not responsible for errors or omissions.