Color Calibration


Monitor profiling and calibration
Effective monitor profiling and calibration requires the use of a hardware calibration device.  Your eyes may be very good at distinguishing colors relative to one another, but just try to pick out the color with an RGB value of 230, 15, 52 from a chart with a bunch of other reddish tones and you will quickly realize your limitations.  A hardware calibrator comes with software that works together to measure how your monitor reproduces colors and then performs adjustments to make those reproductions more accurate.  And since the behavior of your monitor changes over time, this calibration has to be re-done every so often (the frequency depends on the quality of your monitor and how critical color accuracy are to your work and ranges from a few days to weeks).  If you’re doing any editing of your digital images and want your resulting prints to match what you see on your monitor, calibration is a must.  We recommend the X-Rite i1Display 2 and the Datacolor Spyder3 devices as two of the best options, but this technology is improving so newer devices may come down the pipe.

Embed a Color Profile
In order for your prints to come out the way you see them on your screen at home, it is necessary to embedd the color profile you were working with to convey accurate color information is maintained. Most cameras embed a color profile automatically, so if you haven't edited your images you probably have nothing to worry about. The problems arise when this color profile gets lost or changed somewhere along the editing process. We highly recommend you embed either the sRGB or Adobe RGB 1998 profile into your image when ordering through the Online or Desktop ordering applications. If you do wish to submit an image in the ProPhoto or any other common working colorspace, we suggest that you use our Web Upload to do so. Note: Upload fees may apply.

ICC Profile Downloads
An ICC profile works with color management functions in software like Adobe Photoshop to help output correct colors, whether on your monitor or through a printer.  An ICC profile will have either an .ICC or .ICM file extension.  The installation of an ICC profile is simple, the file just needs to be copied to the correct location; Mac OS X = “/Library/ColorSync/Profiles” for all users or “/Users/<username>/Library/ColorSync/Profiles” for a specific user; Windows = “C:\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\color”.  If your image editing application is running you may have to restart it for it to recognize the new profile.

One of the advantages gained by the use of ICC profiles is Soft-Proofing.  In Adobe Photoshop, this allows you to see what your image will look like when printed on a particular printer/paper combination.  It may not be 100%, but certainly much closer than trying to guess.  This is in contrast to having an actual print (hard proof) made, which takes more time and money to produce.  In Adobe Photoshop, in the menus go to View > Proof Setup > Custom.  In the resulting window that appears use the following settings as a starting point:

  • Device to simulate = Select the ICC profile for the desired printer/paper combination
  • Rendering Intent = Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual
  • Black Point Compensation = Checked

Select OK to apply your chosen settings.  Now you can edit your image while taking into account the limitations of a particular media.  This helps you to focus your editing efforts on changes that will actually be seen in print, or make changes that compensate for the limitations of the paper and ink.  For instance, it doesn’t help to boost the saturation of a bright green when that color can’t be reproduced on paper, often you’ll just loose detail in the area.


For more information on ICC Profiles, Proofing, and calibration or for links to our ICC Profiles, Click Here or Contact Us with any questions you may have.