Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
How To Colour Match Your Monitor & Prints - Want to ensure the colours on your monitor match those in your prints? Have a read of this tutorial.
To ensure this happens, as well as having a suitable monitor and printer you also need to ensure the environment you're working in is set-up correctly and that the software you're using, as well as the printer, have the right settings selected. In this guide we'll walk you through the steps needed to ensure your prints and on-screen photos match.
1. EnvironmentPrinted photos reflect the light around them (ambient light) and travel to the human eye where they are recognised as an image. But as the colour of light can change depending on the time of day and if you're indoors or outside, the colour of the printed photos (the reflected light) can look different. The problem with this is that monitors don't reflect ambient light as they emit a light of their own. Therefore, even if the ambient lighting changes, the colour of the monitor itself will barely change causing colours to appear differently when compared to a printout.
The first step to combating this is by preparing the room in which your monitor sits in. This includes using curtains or blinds to block out outside light, choosing neutral colours for your walls and setting your computer's desktop background to achromatic grey. This will help your eyes clearly judge colours more accurately. You could also try fitting a monitor hood to prevent outside light reaching your screen and position your monitor away from the window if possible. The printing industry uses high-CRI (colour rendering index) fluorescent light bulbs with a color temperature near 5000 K which you could also do if you wanted to as having a fluorescent desk lamp with a high colour rendering index will help you judge the colours of photos better once printed.
Next, you need to adjust your monitor.
2. Monitor AdjustmentsThis involves calibrating your monitor which can be done with an external device or some monitors have a built-in calibration sensor. You can find advice on what monitor calibration is and why it needs to be done regularly in these tutorials:
3. Retouching Software SettingsHere we'll look at the settings for two popular pieces of retouching software - Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop Elements 11.
The following settings are the default settings. Under the default settings the image will display correctly.
- Go to the "Edit" menu and click on "Colour Settings".
- From the Settings drop-down menu, select "Europe General Purpose 3" (this will be different for US users).
- Confirm that under the "Colour Management Policies" section, RGB, CMYK, and Gray sections all have "Preserve Embedded Profiles" selected and click "OK". This will complete the settings.
- Go to the "Edit" menu and click on "Colour Settings".
- In the Colour Settings window, select "Always Optimise Colours for Computer Screens" and click "OK". This will complete the settings.
Once your image editing software is set up, you can move on to adjusting your printer settings.
4. Settings Printer AdjustmentsIt's important to select the colour matching settings of your printer when printing images.
If you are an Adobe user (Photoshop or Elements) you can adjust the print settings according to the image retouching software's colour management system. Other software users will have to use the settings of the printer driver.
Lightroom offers a feature called soft proofing which helps with this and is something we'll be covering in another tutorial.
What Operating System you are using, the printer maker and the image retouching software you have installed can change how you check the print settings in regards to the colour management system. However, generally you do follow the same steps with only a few little changes here-or-there.
We're using an example for a Windows machine, using an Epson printer with Photoshop CS6.
1. Go to File > Print and a new window will open.
2. In the Colour Management tab and under colour handling, select 'Photoshop Manages Colours'. Under printer profile, select the paper type you'll be using and under rendering intent, select 'Relative Colourimetric'. Make sure the 'Black Point Compensation' box is checked then turn your attention to the Printer Setup section of this window.
3. Select the correct printer name and click 'Printer Settings'.
4. Under the 'Main' tab find the 'Select Setting' menu and select 'Current Settings'. Under 'Media Type' pick the type of paper you'll be using and as we are using the 'Photoshop Manages Colours' option we selected earlier, under 'Mode' ensure it says: Off (No Colour Adjustment). Click 'OK'.
5. When back on the 'Print' screen, click the 'Print' button.
After printing you need to compare the print with the image so see on your monitor screen and adjust your monitor to match the results you see on the print. You can use your monitor's controls to do this but most calibration software will allow you to manually adjust settings such as brightness and colour tones. Here we are using ColorNavigator 6 as an example of how results can be tweaked.
With ColorNavigator 6 software, adjustments can be made manually by adjusting the screen's luminance (Brightness) and colour tone (white point). So, if the screen appears darker than the print, pull the mouse cursor on the Brightness adjustment bar to the right. For the white point, if the screen seems bluer than the print, move the pointer away from the blue tones, more towards the yellow to remove excess blue.
After making your adjustments, you can fine-tune the results by using the same calibration sensor you used previously.
In ColorNavigator 6 you are shown a list of adjustment results once the calibration is complete then on the next screen you can create a name for this set of adjustment targets and add it to the target list which you can then select everytime you calibrate your monitor for editing and printing images.
Finally, compare the print with the on-screen image a second time and the colours should match even more closely. If colours couldn't be successfully matched there may be a problem with your printer settings or performance. To check how efficiently your printer displays each colour, EIZO have provided a sample image that can be printed. Download it from here.
Visit EIZO for more information.