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Colour Matching Monitors & Prints

Colour Matching Monitors & Prints - Want to ensure the colours on your monitor match those in your prints? Have a read of this tutorial.

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General Photography

By ensuring colours in printouts and on-screen photos match you'll reduce wasteful reprinting costs and save time as you won't have to retouch your shots. It also means that the final result will also be of a higher quality which is something all photographers want.

To ensure this happens, there are a series of steps, which we discuss in this article, that you need to walk through to ensure your prints and on-screen photos match. 

1. Environment

Printed 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 Adjustments

This 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:

EIZO monitor owners can learn how to use the calibration software which would have arrived with their monitor here:

Once your monitor is calibrated, in order to match the colours between your monitor and prints, you need to open your photos on your retouching software and print them. But before that, it's important that you check the settings of your retouching software and printer. 

Monitor calibration

3. Retouching Software Settings

Here 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.

Photoshop CS6

  • 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. 

Photoshop Elements 11

  • 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.

Colour Settings
Once your image editing software is set up, you can move on to adjusting your printer settings




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