Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ICC Color Profiles - Step 3 Toward Quality Prints

Over the last couple of weeks we've discussed the importance of screen calibration and paper selection in your quest for quality prints.  Today, we're going to talk about ICC Color Profiles and how to leverage them within Adobe Lightroom 3.

First, what the heck is an "ICC Color Profile"?  The short answer is that it is instructions for a specific device on how to render colors correctly.  For example, most paper manufacturers, including Red River Paper, have gone through the process of printing on their papers with popular printer models to understand how well the paper and ink pigments play together.  If they find variances between what they expected and what they received in the print test, they can then develop an ICC color profile to adjust for those differences.  Make sense?  If you'd like more information on ICC profiles, this is a pretty good resource.

Alright, so you have your favorite paper loaded into your printer, you've downloaded the correct ICC color profile, but how do you get Lightroom to use it?  Generally there are two simple steps necessary to have Lightroom instruct your printer to use the profile.

  1. In the Print Module within Lightroom, scroll down to the "Print Job" panel.  Under the Color Management section you will see an option for "Profile".  Use this option to locate and select the ICC color profile on your computer.
  2. In addition to telling Lightroom to use the profile, you may also need to instruct any print driver software to allow the application to deal with color management.  On our Epson R1900, this means selecting the printer properties, clicking the Advanced tab and selecting the options as seen below.

With these 3 new tools in your arsenal - screen calibration, quality paper of various sizes, and ICC Color Profiles - you're now ready to start your journey into the world of print.  The Print module within Lightroom 3 has a nearly overwhelming number of bells and whistles and over time we'll learn about them together. 

Next week we'll start discussing the "test print" process and what I've learned to help mitigate the amount of trial and error (aka wasted paper and ink) required to produce output ready to hang on the wall.

Until next time, keep on click'n.


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