Watch Video: How To Use ICC Profiles For The Best Home Printing
If you print photos but hardly consider yourself a skilled wizard, there is a good chance that you will have problems trying to match what is coming out of your printer with what you can see on your monitor.
The fact is, printers – even the best photo printers – often don’t produce consistent colors. This can be a problem if you want high quality prints. The camera, lighting, exposure, and editing all add to your aesthetic. So if a single stop here or a change in saturation there can make all the difference, accurate printouts are crucial.
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The solution is color management. By installing International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles, you can ensure that your printer conforms to industry standards. While this sounds complicated, profiles are easy to obtain, inexpensive, and simple to use. In fact, many paper manufacturers have downloadable profiles that you can get from their website.
However, if you want to download the most accurate profiles available, some paper manufacturers create custom profiles for your specific printer, ink, and paper combinations. Fotospeed offers this service free of charge with its own branded papers. All you have to do is print a test sheet, paste it into the post and wait for your bespoke profile.
Instead of wasting time, ink and paper crudely recreating your vision through trial and error, let’s open the lid of the ICC profiles …
Top tip: Use the Adobe Color Printer Utility
The Profiling Pack from Fotospeed includes detailed instructions on how to use the Adobe Color Printer Utility and a booking form with details on how to send your test cards. Let your chart dry for at least an hour (or ideally 24 hours) before putting it in an envelope and mailing it.
Step by step: Use of ICC profiles
01. What is an ICC profile?
ICC profiles adjust the way an output device replicates color. However, you also need to make sure that your screem was recently calibrated using a monitor calibrator such as Datacolor’s SpyderX Elite X. Otherwise, the printer and monitor will not match properly.
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02. Generic vs Custom
There are generic and custom ICC profiles. The former matches your printer, ink and paper model and is instantly downloadable and ready to use. The latter requires printing and mailing a test card. This takes time, but the profile is tailored to your unique print setup.
03. Download a test card
You can download a custom photospeed profiling package. This includes your test card, which is scanned by a spectrophotometer to create your profile. Make sure to print it as it is. Any manipulation (including changing the size) can affect the accuracy.
04. Print the diagram
The most accurate way to print the chart is through the Adobe Color Printer Utility. You can disable your driver’s color management setting to create an accurate table. PC users need to instruct the software to do this. It’s turned off on Macs.
05. Profile per paper
The idea of a custom profile is that it is generated for your particular printer, ink, and paper combination. If any of these variables change, you will need to create another test graph. For most people, the variable that will change is paper. So if you plan to use three types of paper on a regular basis, print out a test card at a time and mail them all at once.
06. Using ICC profiles
Fotospeed will email custom profiles with instructions. If you use Adobe Lightroom, you can choose your profile from the Color Management tab in the Print module. In Photoshop, choose File> Print, set Color Handling to Photoshop Manages Colors, and click the selected profile from the Printer Profile drop-down menu.
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