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Color, Managed

(February 2005) posted on Mon Feb 07, 2005

A little time, a little software, and a couple of pieces of equipment add up to better-looking equip

click an image below to view slideshow

So what equipment lets you work to the industry standard? Basically,
you need ways to create the ICC profiles for each of the
steps in your workflow. That means you need some kind of hardware-
software combination to create profiles for your scanner or
digital camera; your monitor; and, of course, your printer.

The scanner part is relatively easy: You scan a standard target
of colored squares, and software analyzes the results"?
comparing the color values to the expected values, and making a
profile for your particular scanner. From then on, your profileaware
applications know how your scanner "sees" color and can
compensate for it.

Profiling a digital camera is similar. You set up a target, ideally
with the controlled lighting you will use for your photographic
sessions, and shoot either the same target you used for your
scanner or a standard photographic color sample. Many scanners
come with targets, and the scanning software has a feature
for creating the profile. Alternatively, you can use third-party
software such as that available from X-Rite/Monaco.

The next step in the workflow is probably the most important
step in color management: calibrating and profiling your monitor.
This is the only way you'll be able to truly rely on your monitor to
display the color you're going to get from your printer.

There are simple visual-calibration tools that show you colored
squares and gray boxes and ask you to make choices as to
the best matches. These tools are better than nothing, but they
are inherently subjective, so it's hard to get consistent results.

The better way to go is to use a sensor, such as ColorVision's
Spyder, Monaco's Optix colorimeter, or GretagMacbeth's Eye-
One Display. You attach the sensor to your screen (or, in the
case of an LCD monitor, hang it over the top). The associated
software sends a series of color patches to the screen under
the sensor, and then compares the input from the sensor to the
known color values. The software adjusts the display to make it
more accurate and creates a profile for your monitor. And keep
in mind that this is not a one-time step; you should do this on at
least a weekly basis.

Profile creation: printer


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