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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

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The final element to profile is your printer. Actually, for best
results, you should consider each combination of printer, ink,
and media
as a separate "output state" that requires its own profile.
These days, most printer manufacturers provide off-theshelf
profiles for their own printers in combination with their own
papers. Such prefab profiles are a start, but for best results,
again, you're better off making profiles for your own particular
output states. That's something you'll have to do, anyway, if you
want complete freedom in your choice of inks or paper.
Making a printer profile involves printing a standard image"?
again, a pattern of colored squares"?and measuring this pattern
with some kind of sensor to see how the printed color matches
up with the known color values in the image.

You can send the image out and have a profile made for a fee.
Or another option is to use a spectrophotometer or spectrocolorimeter,
such as the ColorVision SpectroPro, to take the measurements
and create the profile yourself. "If you're making
money-making prints," says Tobie, "you should own one of those
devices." Granted, he's not exactly unbiased when it comes to
advocating you purchase this type of equipment, but he has a
point: If you're going to generate a lot of profiles, outsourcing
them does not make a lot of economic sense.

Profiles can be either RGB or CMYK. Tobie warns that making
and implementing CMYK profiles is much harder than working
with RGB profiles. In RGB, each color you sample has a single
numerical value; in CMYK, you can achieve the same color with
different combinations of ink, depending on your settings for
black generation and total ink coverage. Five years ago, says
Tobie, a PostScript RIP produced clearly superior color to an
RGB driver, but now RGB drivers are almost as good"?and a
whole lot easier.