Header
 
Logo
 

LOGO

A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

 

When I wrote the CS2 equivalent of this tutorial it was in the expectation that the engineers at Adobe had finally come up with a print dialog and options set that would make sense to Photoshop users of all skill levels.

Note that this tutorial has been updated to include Mac OSX 10.5 (aka Leopard) settings.

 

OK, so my expectations and those of the folk at Adobe with responsibility for such things seem to have been a tad optimistic because the print dialog in Photoshop CS3 is different from CS2. In many areas it's better, but in others there is still scope for improvement. On this first page of the tutorial I will discuss these differences in detail. Hopefully, by the time you finish reading it, you too will be an expert in Photoshop printing ;-)

Before I get into describing the various Photoshop and Print Driver configurations I need to clarify two aspects of print making that still seem to confuse a lot of Photoshop users:

  1. Desktop inkjet printers from Epson, Canon, Hewlett Packard, et al may use CMYK or CcMmYK coloured inks but this doesn't make them CMYK printers. Occasionally you'll see this type of printer referred to as Non-Postscript printers. The reason I stress this point so much is that the device drivers supplied with these printers are not designed to print CMYK mode documents. So be warned, any attempt to produce a CMYK document directly  from a desktop inkjet printer will result in disappointment.

  2. The image displayed on a typical computer monitor whether it be a CRT or LCD cannot be fully replicated in print. Yes we can often get close, but an "exact" match is rarely if ever possible.

Note that while the initial screenshots used for this tutorial are based upon the Mac OSX version of Photoshop CS3 they should still provide more than ample guidance those of you using either Windows XP or Vista. The printer driver screenshots are OS specific; therefore I've included separate instructions for both Mac and Windows XP. Depending on the operating system you choose, the instructions and screenshots are based on the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 or Epson Stylus Pro 3800, but should be compatible with most other current models from Epson.

Producing a Print

As I mentioned at the outset Adobe has made some very significant changes to the Print workflow, alas I fear that many of these changes will likely lead to as much confusion as previous attempts to simplify printing from within Photoshop. Most of the confusion will likely be experienced by Windows users and is a result of the shift to "Document Specific" settings. In other words, users will need to reconfigure the Print dialog for each and every image rather than once for any given print session. OK, so that was the bad news, on a more positive note Photoshop CS3 only has 3 menu options (CS2 had 5) associated with printing : Page Setup, Print, Print One Copy and Print Online. The old Print with Preview option is gone, but don't despair you still have a preview.

Tip: Remember, the Print  menu option is only available for selection when an image is open on your desktop so if you're going to read this tutorial whilst following along I suggest that you open an image now. Figure 1 below shows the default view of the Print dialog.

Image

Figure 1 - Photoshop CS3 Print dialog

Even if you've been using a version of Photoshop as recent as CS2 you'll immediately notice that the Print dialog has undergone a radical rework. We now have a more extensive and very different  list of print options available. You'll also notice that Color Management is still the default view for this dialog, but the preview window is now fully color managed with the ability to soft-proof images (i.e. Match Print Colors).  Anyway, to keep things simple I will focus on only those settings that fall within the Print and Options area in figure 1 above. I will also give a brief summary of each option and hopefully give you better idea which combinations are best suited to particular print tasks:

Print:

  • Document: denotes the ICC profile embedded within or assigned to the source document. The example shown in figure 1 shows ProPhoto RGB, but it could be any user specified profile (e.g. sRGB, Adobe RGB (1998), ColorMatch). If the document has already been converted  to a printer/media profile using the Convert to Profile command, then it will be the printer profile name shown rather than a Photoshop working or color space profile.

  • Proof: this field will normally display as (Profile: N/A). Once it's activated via the radio-button it tells Photoshop to convert the document on-the-fly from the source documents color space to the ICC profile shown in brackets. You can only alter the destination profile from within the Proof Setup dialog (see: Photoshop View menu). Also, note that you'll only ever need to use this option if you are intending to make Hard Proofs or Match Prints (i.e. emulating another printer such as a press), therefore I don't intend to elaborate on this workflow.

Options:

  • Color Handling  - this is the pop-up menu  from which you choose the preferred method of managing color when printing from Photoshop CS3. By adopting this approach Adobe have separated the workflow aspects of  printing from the media choices. It was first adopted in CS2, and the theory at the time was that it would be a lot more intuitive. However, I'm not so sure that it actually achieved this. Anyway, there are still four different color handling options, but the names used by CS3 are slightly different from CS2. Also note that each has its own associated preset configuration within the Print dialog thereby helping the user avoid erroneous settings.

  1. Printer Manages Colors - with this option Photoshop instructs the printer to carry out the conversion between the document color space and the printer vendors preferred color space. Photoshop will not change (convert) the document if this option is selected. This is the most appropriate option when you don't have ICC media profiles for your particular printer/media combination.

  2. Photoshop Manages Colors - with this option Photoshop will convert the document to the printer/media profile that you have selected in the Printer Profile pop-up. Many desktop printers are now supplied with generic media profiles, but much more accurate prints can be obtained if custom profiles are used. However, for this option to work correctly color management must be switched off in the printer driver (more on this later).

  3. Separations - this option is used when printing CMYK images where each channel is handled separately. If your document is RGB the option will be greyed out.

  4. No Color Management - with one important difference, this option is similar to the Printer Manages Colors option described above. The difference being, that with this option, Photoshop will not instruct the printer to change or convert the document color space. This option is intended for special cases such as printing custom profile targets that require document color management to be turned off in both Photoshop and the printer driver.

  • Printer Profile - as its name implies this is the pop-up menu from which you choose the ICC profile associated with the printer/media combination you'll be using. This pop-up will only be active when Photoshop Manages Colors is selected in the Color Handling pop-up. By default, it will actually show the document color space, so make sure that you don't forget to choose the appropriate printer/media profile before hitting the Print button.

  • Rendering Intent and Black Point Compensation - again, depending upon your choice in Color Handling one or both of these settings may be greyed out. Irrespective of whether it's greyed out or not, most desktop photo printers (inkjets) will ignore these two settings when Printer Manages Colors is selected from the Color Handling pop-up.

  • Proof Setup - by default, this pop-up menu is greyed out and will only be activated when the Proof radio button is selected. As mentioned above, this option is normally only used when simulating or proofing other output devices such as a Press. Simulate Paper Color allows you to simulate, the shade/color of the paper white, whereas Simulate Black Ink will enable you to simulate, the dynamic range defined by the media profile (i.e. how dark black will appear on the media you're printing to) However, it is important to note that they are only available as options for Proof printing, so don't expect them to be available when Document is selected.

  • Description - this is a useful addition to the Print dialog in so far as it provides short explanations for each of the settings and options. The description itself is triggered when you hover the mouse over the various buttons and pop-up menus (e.g. Color Handling, Rendering Intent, Black Point Compensation, etc).

The last item I want to mention is new and very welcome Match Print Colors checkbox that you'll find tucked away at the bottom of the Print dialog. With this checkbox activated the Preview display will show a screen rendered soft-proof of the document - the preview shown in Print dialog is now color managed.

It's all about Workflow

As outlined above there are four choices or more accurately workflow options contained within the Color Handling pop-up. However, this tutorial will only discuss three of them, leaving the fourth (i.e. Separations) for others to explain. Most of what follows has been copied across from my Photoshop CS2 tutorial, which should explain why it looks familiar to those who have already read it.

Print Workflow 1

The default configuration for the Print dialog is shown below as Figure 2. Notice that Color Handling is set to Printer Manages Colors. For the purpose of this tutorial we'll call this setting Print Workflow 1.

When you choose Printer Manages Colors you're informing Photoshop that the document should be passed directly to printer driver with instructions on how to convert the document colors into the printer optimised equivalent. Photoshop CS3 will not convert the document nor will it take any account of the media specified in your printer driver. Using this option Photoshop tags the document  so that the printer driver has all of the information needed to ensure accurate color rendering of the print. The document color management is handled solely by the printer driver.

Image

Figure 2 - Print Workflow 1

Tip: Depending upon your printer model it is possible that Rendering Intent may not be active for this workflow. Even if it is active there is every possibility that the printer driver will ignore your choice and use Perceptual, but don't worry either way.

Print Workflow 2

This workflow, which is often referred to as application color management, is really intended for the more advanced/demanding Photoshop worker who needs total control of how their documents are rendered to print. With Color Handling set to Photoshop Manages Colors you are able to choose: specific ICC media profiles, the Rendering Intent, and whether or not Black Point Compensation is to be used. Trying to relate this particular option back to versions of Photoshop prior to CS2 (aka Photoshop 9 and before) is difficult because there was no direct equivalent.

When Photoshop Handles Colors is selected you'll immediately be given access to the Printer Profile pop-up. By default the profile shown in this pop-up is the Working RGB profile (defined in Photoshop Color Settings), but you'll very seldom want to leave it at Working RGB. As mentioned above it's important that your actual choice of Printer Profile matches the media and printer model that you'll be using, otherwise poor quality prints are a virtual certainty. The best quality will be obtained when you use an ICC media profile that has been created for your specific printer. These can be created by you using specialist software/hardware or purchased from a third party.

Tip: Many Epson photo printers are now supplied complete with ICC media profiles for a range of media types although with some models you may have to install the PIM driver (see the cd-rom supplied with your printer) before they become available. You should also check the Epson support sites to see if new ICC profiles are available.

Image

Figure 3 - Print Workflow 2

Notice that once a printer profile is selected both Rendering Intent and Black Point Compensation" (BPC) are activated. Generally you'll want to use Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric, and have BPC checked. It's worth noting that with many of the newer models from Epson (e.g. Pro3800, SP2100, SP2200, R1800, R800, etc.) it is probable that choosing Relative Colorimetric will produce the more pleasing prints.

Tip: The important point to note about this workflow is that your printer driver MUST be configured so that ALL color management features are disabled. Often you'll see this workflow referred to as the No Color Adjustment (NCA) or Application Color Management workflow.

Print Workflow 3

The final workflow choice is No Color Management. This particular workflow is primarily intended for users who are creating customised ICC media profiles or printing the multi-patch targets for others to create them on their behalf. It's NOT recommended when printing normal documents. If you've just upgraded to Photoshop CS3 from CS or earlier then No Color Management is the direct equivalent of Same As Source. With this option Photoshop simply passes the document straight to the printer driver without making any color adjustments or conversions.

Image

Figure 4 - Print Workflow 3

Tip: As with Print Workflow 2 it is important that your printer driver is configured so that ALL color management features are disabled. I'll show this can be achieved later in the tutorial.

Tip: by holding down the Alt/Option keyboard button you will find that the Done button changes to Remember. Using this keyboard modifier will allow you to save the document specific print settings for future use.

Once the Print dialog has been configured to suit your requirements it's time to press the Print button.

Each operating system has it's own unique printer driver configuration and in some case the drivers differ from printer to printer. Given this variation it's not possible for me to provide specific settings for every case, but the following should give a good indication of how the respective OS/driver combination should be configured.

 

Mac OS X 10.4x (aka Tiger)

When you press the Print button (i.e. bottom right hand corner of Photoshop Print dialog) the "System" Print dialog as shown in Figure 5 should appear. The System Print dialog might appear quite complicated in so far as it includes menu options for many print setting that are better set within Photoshop itself or the actual Print driver, and are therefore best avoided. In particular, you should not need to access options such as: Layout, Scheduler, Paper Handling, ColorSync, and Cover Page. I really can't emphasise enough how important it is that you configure the printer driver in the sequence that I describe otherwise there is a good chance that one of the settings will revert to the Epson default.

Image

Figure 5 - "System" Print dialog

Press the popup labelled Copies and Pages (shown in the screenshot with a red asterisk). Choose Print Settings from the list of options. When the Printer Settings panel (figure 6) appears choose the type of Media (1) that will be used. Next select the Advanced (2) mode.

Image

Figure 6 - Epson Printer Dialog - Main Window

Choose Best Photo or Photo RPM for the highest Print Quality (3) option compatible with the printer/media combination that you require. Also, for best quality High Speed (4) should be disabled.

Return to the popup now labelled Print Settings (5) and choose Color Management. The remainder of this page is separated into two parts, the first deals with Print Workflow 1 and the second Print Workflow 2 and 3.

Print Workflow 1 (Contd.)

For Color Management (figure 7 below) we have three options (radio buttons): Color Controls, ColorSync and OFF (No Color Adjustment).

Image

Figure 7 - Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 1

The first two options, and for this workflow we're only interested in these two, are designed to automate the process of printer colour management, and you have the choice of Color Controls or ColorSync (6). I suggest that you avoid choosing ColorSync as it has been known to produce very unsatisfactory results with some printer models. Actually, I believe that Color Controls is the best option for  novice users. Also, remember that when this setting is selected the Photoshop Print dialog should be configured as shown in Print Workflow 1.

With the latest Epson drivers for printers such as the Stylus Photo R800, R1800, R2400 and Pro3800 you will see at least 3 modes. I don't recommend the use of the Advanced Settings adjustment sliders and suggest that Mode set to either Epson Standard or Vivid. Lastly, unless you have good reason to choose differently I also recommend leaving the Gamma setting at 1.8.

Print Workflow 2 and 3 (Contd.)

The third setting for color management is referred to as Off (No Color Adjustment) (6a) and is ONLY appropriate when you're using ICC media profiles in Photoshop or printing the targets required for creating ICC media type profiles. In other words you should only use this setting if you have chosen to configure Photoshop Print dialog as shown in Print Workflow 2 or Print Workflow 3. This setting is by far the best setting for advanced Photoshop users. It's also worth mentioning that if you find your final prints are light and magenta in appearance then there's a very good chance that you chose one of the other two settings in error or that the sequence in which you configured the print driver was not exactly as I described above.

In the following screenshot you can see that choosing Off (No Color Adjustment)  (6a) resulted in the Mode pop-up, Gamma and adjustment sliders disappearing from the dialog; this is how it should be, so don't panic.

Iamge

Figure 8 - Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 2 and 3

Once you have configured the driver for your preferred media, print quality and color management settings it's a good idea to save them for future use. This is achieved by opening the Presets (7) popup and choosing "Save As" - do be sure to choose a meaningful name. Next time you need to make a print you can simply choose this media type from your list of Presets. In the example shown in figure 9 you can see that I have preset settings for Epson Enhanced Matte and Semi Gloss media.

Image

Figure 9 - Saving your settings as Presets

 

Mac OS X 10.5 (aka Leopard)

When you press the Print button (i.e. bottom right hand corner of Photoshop Print dialog) the "System" Print dialog as shown in Figure 10 should appear. Like the System Print dialog in Tiger the Leopard dialog might appear quite complicated in so far as it includes menu options, although most are better set within Photoshop. In particular, you should not need to access options such as: Layout, Color Matching, Paper Handling, Cover Page and Scheduler. Also, I really can't emphasise enough how important it is that you configure the printer driver in the sequence that I describe otherwise there is a good chance that one of the settings will revert to the Epson default.

Image

Figure 10 - "System" Print dialog

Press the popup labelled Layout. Since it's partially hidden in above screenshot I have shown a red splash symbol adjacent to it. Next, choose Print Settings from the list of options. The Printer Settings panel (figure 11) will appear.

Image

Figure 11 - Epson Printer Dialog - Main Window

Readers familiar with Epson driver for Tiger will immediately notice that all of the options they need to set are now contained within a single panel. Also, for the purposes of this tutorial I will concentrate on the type of Media Type (1), Color Settings (2), Print Quality (3) and printer specific options (4) such as speed and detail.

For best results you should make sure that the settings Media Type (1) is set to match the paper that you'll be printing with and Print Quality (3) should normally be set to the highest available resolution that is compatible with the printer/media combination you're using. Generally,  High Speed (4) should be disabled.

The remainder of this page discusses the options available for Color Settings (2) and is separated into two parts, the first deals with Print Workflow 1 and the second Print Workflow 2 and 3.

Print Workflow 1 (Contd.)

When developing the new Leopard compatible drivers Epson appear to have took on board many of the criticisms that were levelled at previous drivers. For example, Color Settings (2) now has only two options: Color Controls and Off (No Color Adjustment), this workflow only uses the former. Also, remember that when this option is selected the Photoshop Print dialog should be configured as shown in Print Workflow 1 above.

Image

Figure 12 - Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 1

Of the four sub-options available under Color Controls I think Epson Standard (sRGB) and Adobe RGB are the best choice for printing photographic images.

I don't recommend the use of the Advanced Color Settings adjustment sliders, nevertheless,  I have shown the panel for information. Leaving it at the default settings and fixing tonal or color issues within Photoshop is more likely to produced better results because you have a live preview the adjustments. Using the adjustment sliders usually requires multiple iterations of adjustment and print before everything is correct.

Image

Figure 13 - Advanced Color Control Panel

Print Workflow 2 and 3 (Contd.)

The other option for Color Settings option is referred to as Off (No Color Adjustment) (2) and is ONLY appropriate when you're using application color management (i.e. you have selected ICC media profile in Photoshop Printer Profile pop-up) or printing the targets required for creating ICC media type profiles. In other words you should only use this setting if you have chosen to configure Photoshop Print dialog as shown in Print Workflow 2 or Print Workflow 3 above. This option produces by far the best print quality. It's also worth mentioning that if you find your final prints are light and magenta in appearance then there's a very good chance that you chose Color Controls by mistake.

Image

Figure 14 - Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 2 and 3

Once you have configured the driver for your preferred media, print quality and color management settings it's a good idea to save them for future use. This is achieved by opening the Presets (red splash symbol shown on figure 15) popup and choosing Save As - do be sure to choose a meaningful name. Next time you need to make a print you can simply choose this media type from your list of Presets.

Image

Figure 15 - Saving your settings as Presets

 

Windows XP

When you press the Print button (i.e. bottom right hand corner of Photoshop Print dialog) the "System" Print dialog as shown in Figure 16 should appear.

Image

Figure 16 - Windows "System" Print dialog

Press the Properties button. Once the Printer driver dialog (Figure 17) appears choose the type of Media (1) that will be used. Next select either  Photo or Best Photo for Quality Type (2). The last setting to choose in this dialog is the Advanced button (3).

Image

Figure 17 - Epson Basic Printer Dialog - Main Window

Print Workflow 1

For Color Management (5) we have a number of options, many of which only serve to confuse and are completely unnecessary. Also, for this tutorial I'm ignoring Advanced B&W since it's only available on higher end Photo printers such as the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 and Stylus Pro3800.

The following screenshot (Figure 18) is where we make the important selections. For best print quality you should disable High Speed (4).

Image

Figure 18 - Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 1

The first two Color Management options are designed to automate the process of printer color management and you have the choice of Color Controls or PhotoEnhance. Both these options are intended for novice Photoshop users but I suggest that you avoid using PhotoEnhance since it applies additional processing and sharpening to the image and can produce very unsatisfactory results with some printer models. I also suggest that you stick with Epson Standard or Vivid for the Color Mode (6). Also, remember that when this setting is selected the Photoshop Print dialog should be configured as shown in Print Workflow 1. Lastly, unless you have good reason to choose differently I recommend leaving the Gamma setting at 1.8.

Image

Figure 19 - Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 1 (ICM Mode)

By choosing ICM (5a) (see Figure 13 above) you gain access to the internal Epson printer color management system (i.e. Applied by Printer Software) and the Off (No Color Adjustment) mode. The later mode (i.e. Off [No Color Adjustment]) is NOT compatible with Print Workflow 1 and should NOT be selected. When the former (Applied by Printer Software) is selected the driver automatically makes use of the Epson media profiles but does so in a way that means their selection in Photoshop should be avoided. Actually, with previous versions of Photoshop using this method to select an ICC media profile in Photoshop and the Epson driver would have lead to double profiling, so the final prints would have looked awful (light and magenta). Photoshop CS3 now includes a feature that should prevent this problem occurring, but it's likely that it only works with more recent printers. Therefore, to obtain the best results from this particular mode of operation Photoshop should be configured as shown in Print Workflow 1 above.

Print Workflow 2 and 3

The last setting for color management is referred to as Off (No Color Adjustment) (7) and is ONLY appropriate when you're using ICC media profiles in Photoshop or printing the targets required for creating ICC media type profiles. In other words you should only use this setting if you have chosen to configure Photoshop Print dialog as shown in Print Workflow 2 or Print Workflow 3. This setting is by far the best setting for advanced Photoshop users.

Image

Figure 20 -  Epson Print Driver: Print Workflow 2 and 3

 

Tip: In the screenshot  shown above you can see that choosing Off (No Color Adjustment)  (7) resulted in the Mode pop-up, Gamma and slider controls being removed from the print dialog; this is how it should be so don't panic when they disappear.

Footer

Contents on this site: Ian Lyons 1999 - 2010. All Rights Reserved