November 9th, 2011
Graphic designers, photographers, videographers, publishers and computer users at large: they all depend on their digital hardware being capable of rendering colors right. But the sad truth is your colours will differ dependent on the output device. A monitor’s red isn't the same as an inkjet printer’s red. Besides, what is “red”?
Here are 10 things you can do in order to make sure red is red, no matter which device has to render it.
1. Buy a good monitor. OK, this is an open door, but by “good” i mean a monitor that you can calibrate. That rules out all the office monitors, the Apple Cinemas and leaves you with LaCie 300 range and Eizo ColorEdge products.
2. Get a good calibration and profiling application. It is possible to get software that comes with a top quality GretagMacbeth Display 2 colorimeter (called the “Squid 2″ by Color Solutions), and has a feature called “software calibration”. The second calibrates any monitor by storing the calibration info (the Tone Reply Curve) in the video card’s look up tables. The only requirement: your video card should support it. ATI’s Radeon range supports this.
3. Calibrate and make a colour profile for your monitor once a month. Calibration is different from profiling. Calibration means the color look bup tables in the monitor are put into a known state, while a profile merely describes the monitor’s perception of colors. With calibration you tell the monitor that it must render “pure red” by setting its colour channels in a certain manner. The profile you create will tell your image revising software, or graphical design application that pure red for this monitor means a specific mix of its colour channels.
4. Buy an inkjet printer which has non-clogging print heads. Ideally, print heads shouldn't ever clog. If they do, you can rest assured your colors will come out horrible. If they don't, you can still have bad colours, but now at the least you can something about it. Good printers are rather more dear than the bottom-price inkjet printers you can purchase these days. Think about paying something like 200 Bucks at a minimum. For top-quality printers like the HP Photosmart Pro B9180, expect to pay 700 Dollars.
5. Drive your inkjet through a Raster Image Processor. Many top of the range printers support a RIP, although not all RIPs are made equal. EFI makes good RIPs, as do the vendors that develop costlier RIPs for large format printers. EFI has a decent RIP, with support for ink limiting, black start setting, etc, for a very decent cost. It's the EFI Designer Edition.
6. Profile your printer and use that profile with your RIP to get correct colours, and save money on ink consumption. Through the profile settings, you can figure out how much ink gets sprayed onto the page. For some paper types, you are able to save a large amount of money by setting ink limiting to it’s perfect level for your printer.
7. Use established equipment such as X-Rite/GretagMacbeth or Barbieri to generate your CMYK printer profile. You must make a profile for every paper not supported by your printer manufacturer. If you have got to use your printer in RGB mode, you can do with more cost-effective profiling systems. The best way to ensure a high quality profile is formed when you do not have the budget to get a system that costs a couple of thousand dollars, is to make an appeal to a remote service such as Thinck.com’s.
8. Use an image editing application such as Photoshop, which has a “softproof” feature. To softproof means you will be able to visually define an image’s colors on-screen with enough accuracy to be assured the colours will match the made public output. Softproofing is never one-on-one, but can come extraordinarily close, and is an alternative way of saving money by saving on both wasted paper and ink.
8. When editing your image, set the gray balance first. Choose a neutral gray area in your image (if you took a photograph, you will remember what was grey, and if you don't, there are almost always objects that must be gray) and set this area as your neutral gray tone. In Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you do it by choosing the Levels or Curves tool, picking the grey eye dropper in the dialogue window, and clicking with this tool in the neutral area of your image.
9. If your image has a warm tone to it, e.g. Because it was shot at dusk or with tungsten light and no flash, you can neutralise color casts rather by choosing an area that is not exactly neutral but more toward the warm tone of the image. As long as the area is greyish fundamentally, the image will adjust. Accordingly.
10. Be cautious with setting Saturation levels too high. If you boost saturation, you're also boosting color inaccuracies. You can boost the saturation of your image when you're sure it is colour-accurate.
These and a lot more tips, tricks, and tutorials, but also product reviews and detailed technology and methodology background info is available on IT-Enquirer.com. IT-Enquirer is an online magazine targeted at creative pros. It contains articles for beginners all the way up to professionals in the field.