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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
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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 - The Settings Drop-Down List
(Page 8 of 16 )

You use the Settings drop-down list to choose either a preset collection of settings or to select independently the various settings in the dialog box. Adobe has provided some very useful presets, and you, of course, can also create your own presets and choose them from this drop-down list. When you choose one of the presets in this drop-down list, the preset specifies and sets all the other fields and options in the dialog box for you. If none of the shipping color setting files meet your needs, for example, go through the dialog box, make your choices, and then save all the changes you've made to a new color setting file. From then on, you can access your custom settings with the convenience and precision of the shipping presets. You can even share these settings with other people by giving them the file that was created.

If you click the arrow for the Settings drop-down list, you'll see that Adobe has provided the following presets:

  • Color Management Off. As good as using color management is under most circumstances, sometimes you definitely want to turn it off. The most common reason for turning off color management is to create graphics that in their finished version will be viewed only onscreen, by users with different monitors and operating systems, or for video work. Examples of such material would be onscreen help files, reference material, and multimedia presentations.

  • Emulate Acrobat 4. If you use the Acrobat file format to send to your commercial printer, you might want to use this setting. This is the "traditional" CMYK-based color management default. If you have no intention to print images to a commercial press, do not use this option.

  • Emulate Photoshop 4. Photoshop 4 was the last version of Photoshop that did not have any color management features. Internally, both Macintosh and Windows versions of Photoshop 4 (and earlier versions) used a working space based on the characteristics of a Macintosh monitor. Choose this preset if you are working with files created in early versions of Photoshop, files you used successfully in projects of that era, which you might need to reproduce. Choose this preset also when you are working with older graphics and DTP software that does not have color management features.

  • Europe Prepress Defaults, Japan Prepress Defaults, and U.S. Prepress Defaults. Each of these three separate presets defines conditions suitable for common commercial press conditions of the specific region. These generic conditions are good as a starting point for creating a custom definition for the area of the world and the kinds of press/ink sets and paper conditions you typically use.

  • Photoshop 5 Default Spaces. This preset lands your Photoshop working space back in the sRGB mode, which we tell you is only good for screen presentations and Web work. Make this your preset only if you did oodles of work in Photoshop 5, and you have no business that requires photographic realism when going to print.

  • Web Graphics Default. The settings specified by this preset are optimal for creating graphics that will be viewed on the Web or on an intranet through ICC-aware Web browsers.

  • ColorSync Workflow (Macintosh OS only). Choose this setting if you are using ColorSync version 3.0 or higher, and you are using the ColorSync Control Panel to choose profiles.

Working Spaces

The settings in the Working Spaces section of the Color Settings dialog box (shown as item 2 in Figure 2.7) determine which of the many ICC profiles is the default working space profile assigned to newly created files. It's critical to understand here that when you convert from—say RGB to CMYK—the resulting color space that the CMYK image is saved to is not necessarily the CMYK space you want. The image will default to the current CMYK working space in the Color Settings dialog box. Unless you have only one output device, and you've chosen the profile for that device in the Color Settings dialog box, you will get more accurate results by changing color mode using Image, Mode, Convert to Profile instead of depending on the Image, Mode colors listed in the main menu.

The Working Spaces section of the Color Settings dialog box contains four drop-down lists labeled RGB, CMYK, Gray, and Spot, respectively. The working space for each color mode is defined by the ICC profile you want to attach automatically to new documents that use the same color space: RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, or Multichannel.

When the Advanced Mode option is checked, the ICC profiles available at the system level are displayed. Those are the ones in the ColorSync folder (Macintosh) or Color folder (Windows). If you have loaded profiles in these locations and you need to access them, you should activate the Advanced Mode.

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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