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The Critically Important Color and Gamma Calibration Article

This article will explain how to understand and work with Photoshop's Color Management System (CMS), including how to create a custom profile, how to create an ICC profile for a monitor, how to set Photoshop's CMS defaults, how to use the Color Settings dialog box, and much more. It is excerpted from Inside Photoshop CS, by Gary D. Bouton. (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672326442).

Author Info:
By: Sams Publishing
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 60
December 15, 2004
  1. · The Critically Important Color and Gamma Calibration Article
  2. · Understanding Photoshop's Color Management System (CMS)
  3. · International Color Consortium (ICC)
  4. · Translation, Please
  5. · Preparing to Create a Custom Profile
  6. · Install the Latest Drivers for Your Equipment
  7. · Setting Photoshop's Color Management Defaults
  8. · The Settings Drop-Down List
  9. · Choosing from the RGB Working Spaces Drop-Down List
  10. · Color Management Policies
  11. · Conversion Options: Which Engine to Use
  12. · Black Point Compensation
  13. · Assigned Profile
  14. · Color Management Policies in Action
  15. · Converting a Profile Means Changing the Data
  16. · Soft-Proofing, or Seeing Onscreen What an Image Will Look Like When It's Printed

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The Critically Important Color and Gamma Calibration Article
(Page 1 of 16 )

BoutonEveryone likes surprises, such as being treated to breakfast in bed on an ordinary day or winning the 12 million dollar state lottery. But there are some surprises that no one wants to receive, like having uninvited relatives permanently bond themselves to your sofa at the exact same moment that your special someone is about to arrive for a romantic evening, or chomping into a wax pear thinking it's the real thing.

The unpleasant surprise that haunts graphic artists' and photographers' dreams usually involves color. Specifically, the problem is "color-gone-wrong." No one wants to spend hours staring at the monitor getting the delicate blush on a model's face just right, or tweaking the color of this month's Sweater of the Month Club sweater only to have the model's blush look like a rash and the sweater take on a royal blue hue instead of a regal purple one when printed. But just about the only way to avoid the unpleasant and often expensive problem of color-gone-wrong requires the help of a workable color management system (CMS).

The purpose of a color management system is to supply users with tools that can control the colors in images so that they remain as true as possible all through the process—from acquisition to final output. Ideally, such a system should work effortlessly and flawlessly and should be constrained to producing color-perfect output by the laws of physics itself.

Ideally, the photo of a pear you scanned should be the same color on your monitor and the same color when printed, and in a perfect world, the scanner's output should look like the physical pear.

Guess what? The world is not perfect, and neither is any color management system that was, or is, available. But it did get a whole lot better, and even worth using on an everyday basis when Adobe introduced a new, comprehensive color management system in Photoshop 6. The Adobe CMS works pretty much the same in professional Adobe products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. And because the Adobe system is based on the use of an international standard for creating ICM (color) profiles (descriptions of how a device handles color), color-managed files from Photoshop work as expected with other manufacturers' software and hardware.

So why are we rehashing a Photoshop 6 feature in a book on Photoshop CS? Simple—because color management is very important and because it is not the most intuitive or easy thing for most people to understand and embrace. Many Photoshop users just skipped over the feature as best they could and continue to work in a graphics world where color is more likely to go wrong than right. Also, it's possible you never read this chapter in our version 6 book.

If you were one of the brave and became a whiz at managing color consistency using Adobe CMS in Photoshop 6, you probably have more time to spend doing the things that you love to do. Learning how to use Photoshop's color management tools is not only for folks whose day gig is in a studio, either. If you have a digital camera and you like to retouch family photos or create and print your own holiday cards, you've already found out how much time and how many pieces of expensive inkjet photo paper it takes to produce one copy that has colors you anticipated.

What you are going to learn in this chapter is the most important thing you can learn about Photoshop: how to get predictable, consistent output and how to make your scanner, monitor, and printer display approximately the same thing. This is the graphic artist's dream, but it doesn't come without a price, and that price is this—a very that you take two or three days to digest what we teach in this chapter. We aserious, very technical chapter.

Our advice up front is lso realize that the other chapters in this book are light and occasionally humorous when compared to this chapter. So, keeping in mind that you're human and need a break when involved in anything serious, we present to you Figure 2.1. Now, this is a funny picture. Any time you find your attention drifting from this chapter, turn back to this page.

Aren't you glad we authors have a sense of perspective?

Figure 2. 1
Return to this page and this image any time you're reading this chapter and find you're in over your head. 

This chapter is from Inside Photoshop CS,  by Gary D. Bouton. (Sams, 2004, ISBN:  0672326442). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.

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