This post is written exclusively for the MCP Actions Blog by “Color Inc Pro Lab.” They are an amazing printer with excellent customer service. And they have agreed to do monthly tips and/or contests here on the MCP Blog. I get so many questions on proofing and how to get colors in print as close to what they look like on your monitor. Every printer will have different calibration and ICC profiles, so check with your printer for best results. But here is an excellent explanation of soft proofing in photoshop.
Color matching between monitors and prints can be a tricky hassle to set up. Computer monitors can display extremely high ranges of contrast and brightness. This is great for viewing images, as they look crisp, bright and colorful. Unfortunately, paper is not as forgiving. Typical photo paper does not have the contrast a monitor can produce. Additionally, it is not back lit like most monitors are, which means images will typically print darker than they display.
This is where Soft Proofing comes in. Soft Proofing is a term for adjusting your computer and display so that it mimics some other device (such as a printer). Imaging software such as Adobe Photoshop can Soft Proof images using ICC Profiles. These profiles tell Photoshop how certain colors will print, and Photoshop can use the profiles to ‘guess’ what an image will look like when printed, even if you are looking at the image on your monitor.
Soft proofing heavily relies on the accuracy of your monitor profile and printer profile. (In this case, your monitor profile should be coming from a monitor colorimeter (such as an eye-one display 2). Running the enclosed software will help you generate a profile for your specific monitor. The printer profile should be the profile that your lab recommends you use.
At ColorInc, our professional Fuji printers print a color range very close to sRGB, and we recommend you use this profile for your images. We also regularly calibrate each monitor using the eye-one display colorimeter (the same models we sell on our website).
Typically, specialty proof setup is not required. (The great thing about using sRGB is that it is relatively standard. Almost all monitors, televisions, and some printers use it already). However, if you would like to, you can set up proof conditions in image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. To do this in Photoshop CS3, click “View” → “Proof Setup → “Custom”. Under “Device to Simulate” select “sRGB IEC61966-2.1” and select ok. Then click “View” → “Proof Colors” to enable and disable the soft proofing display.
Remember to check all color settings with actual prints. It can be frustrating to work on a batch of photos that turn out different when printed. Test prints can alert you of color mismatches early, and can alleviate problems before they occur. Especially when you can get express prints for only 17c, these prints cost pennies, and can save you hundreds in the long run.
Using soft proofing techniques can save you time and frustration when editing images, and with a bit of luck, you photos will look stunning!
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