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Photoshop 6

Colour Management

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By Ian Lyons

A Computer Darkroom Review

When Photoshop 6 was announced to the world in late August 2000 much was made of features such as the improved interface, increased vector support, enhanced layer effects, etc. However, little was mentioned of colour management. Yet, the manner in which Photoshop now deals with colour within documents/images has been significantly altered, for the better.

This article will explain the main changes and make suggestions as to how the new Photoshop 6 colour management system should be configured. The reader shouldn't consider my preferences as "the best", just a base point from which to begin the process. However, careful reading should give some clues as to why I made certain choices.

Colour Management Primer

Typically each Device will reproduce colour differently, so that the colour we see at one stage of the imaging process will rarely if ever match the colour seen at the next stage. In other words, colour is Device-dependent. The purpose of a Colour Management System (CMS) is to maintain a consistent "appearance" of colour on different devices (i.e. scanners, monitors, printers, etc.) throughout our system. 

A colour managed system will comprise three basic components, namely: -

  • A device-independent colour space. Usually referred to as the Working Space or Reference Colour Space.

  • ICC/ColorSync profiles for each device (printer, scanner, monitor, digital camera, etc.) that describes the characteristics of the device.

  • A Colour Matching Module (CMM) that will interpret the information contained within device profiles and carries out their instructions on what way the colour gamut of each device should be treated.

A typical "Colour-managed Workflow" will involve the image data being passed along the chain - from scanner - to - computer - to - monitor - and printer (see the diagram below).  To minimise the colour discrepancies that result primarily from the widely differing colour spaces of each device we must give the CMM information in the form of device "Profiles" that accurately describe the colour gamut of each device. Most devices are supplied with generic or "Canned" profiles that describe them pretty well, but for truly accurate colour matching you should seriously consider either getting "Customised" profiles for each device done professionally or buying your own profiling software. I identify 3 companies who specialise in this business area later.  

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It is also worth pointing out that whilst most low cost, consumer based film and flatbed scanner applications are ICC/ColorSync aware they tend to impose sRGB as the "Source" colour space. This colour space is  inappropriate for high quality image editing where print or film output is required. Some manufacturers e.g. Nikon, Polaroid and MicroTek allow us to scan and save our images in any Destination colour space we choose. Unfortunately others make similar claims but in reality the "Destination" colour space is generally always "sRGB". Furthermore, the image is rarely if ever delivered into Photoshop with an embedded profile (i.e. "tagged"). The new Assign Profile command introduced with Photoshop 6 will help overcome some of the problems this issue causes.

In with the New

Leaving aside (for the moment) the interface changes associated with configuring the Photoshop colour management system we find that the biggest and most far reaching change is; support for "document/image specific" colour. In Photoshop 5, it is the Working Space that defines how all the open images are displayed. Therefore, in order that we can preview the image accurately it must be in the same Working Space as is defined in the Photoshop 5 "RGB Setup" dialog.  However, with Photoshop 6, the Working Space defined in Color Settings only really has a bearing on three types of image, viz.: -

  1. new images/documents;

  2. existing images/documents without an embedded profile; and

  3. images/documents with no embedded ICC/ColorSync profile (i.e. "untagged images/documents" typically form digital cameras  and low end scanners, etc.).

"Image specific" colour means that it's the profile embedded within an image that determines how the image will be displayed and not the Photoshop Working Space. With Photoshop 6 we can have multiple images, each in its own unique Working Space open at the same time and each will be displayed accurately (of course this assumes a well calibrated and profiled monitor).

Another important change that users will quickly find is the absence of the "Display Using Monitor Compensation" checkbox. It's not that Adobe have removed the feature from Photoshop, but that they have configured it so that users can't easily turn it off, well not so as you find it easily, but I'll explain that workaround later.

Also note that a few new commands have been introduced, namely "Assign Profile", "Convert to Profile" and "Proof Setup". The first two are accessed from the "Image > Mode" menu, and the last from the "View Menu". I will discuss each of them in detail later.

I could go on at length waffling about each an every feature change, but I think it better that I leave such explanations to those who really understand Photoshop 6 colour management, namely Andrew Rodney and Chris Murphy.  Their material can be read at http://www.digitaldog.net and http://www.colorremedies.com respectively.

Please note that except for the obvious interface differences; Photoshop 6 for the Mac and PC share a virtually identical set of features. Therefore, the Mac OS based screen grabs shown below should be very useful to PC users. Of course there will always be those that look totally different, but so far as this article is concerned they are confined to printing and saving your images.

Part 1 - Monitor Calibration and Characterisation

On opening Photoshop 5 for the very first time users were provided with the "configure the colour management system" wizard, but such luxuries are not present in Photoshop 6. This means that the new user is already at a distinct disadvantage.

Nevertheless, we can make a start on our own by first calibrating and characterising the monitor. This can be achieved by using the now familiar Adobe Gamma utility.

Adobe Gamma is a "Control Panel" utility that can be accessed from the "Apple Menu > Control Panels" on the Mac and "My Computer > Control Panel" on the PC. Before running Adobe Gamma,

  • it is best that your monitor has been switched on for at least 30 minutes;

  • work in subdued lighting when calibrating a monitor using Adobe Gamma; and

  • set the white point of your monitor. Typically it will be set for 9300oK, which is far too blue for our purposes. This is a hardware adjustment, and how you do it depends on the monitor you are using. Most monitors have a control panel. If you're unsure how to set the white point on your monitor, consult the documentation that came with it.

Another good tip is to set your "Desktop Colour" to grey. Mac users can do this via the "Apple Menu > Control Panels" and then choosing  "Appearance". Windows users should choose "Start  > Settings > Control Panel" and then "Display".  Using Adobe Gamma is pretty straight forward, but I've included a few more tips along with the screen grabs.

Step 1

When the Adobe Gamma utility is first opened you will be asked to make a choice between the "Assistant" and the "Control Panel" method. It's probably easier to use the "Step by Step Assistant" method.

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Step 2

Choose your monitor profile or pick one that's close. If in doubt choose the Adobe default monitor profile or even sRGB, it really makes little difference since all we are doing is defining the start point.

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Before progressing to the next step, be sure to give the profile a unique description and include the date.

Step 3

From here on in make sure, you follow the instructions carefully.

Set your monitor contrast control to maximum and then adjust the brightness control until the innermost grey square is only just visible against the black surround. Squinting your eyes helps with this process, as does keeping the room lighting at a low level or off.

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Step 4 

If you're using a manufacturer supplied profile for your specific make and model of monitor then in all probability the Phosphors will be listed as "Custom". If this is the case leave well alone. If you don't have a monitor profile choose either Trinitron or P22-EBU. I keep getting asked -"how do I decide which is appropriate for my monitor?" In truth, it matters little, but for those who are determined to make the perfect choice; you can tell a Trinitron monitor by simply looking at the display area. A Trinitron type monitor will have two faint lines running across the display area approximately 1/4 from the top and 1/4 from the bottom. If your monitor has these lines choose Trinitron, otherwise choose P22-EBU.

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Step 5

Begin by keeping the "View Single Gamma" selected for now. Although keep in mind that this option "ONLY" allows you to adjust the relative brightness of the monitor, not neutralise any colour imbalances

Depending upon your computer type choose either the "Windows Default" or "Mac Default" gamma. In reality, this choice is not so important and you can choose either in the knowledge that Photoshop will make the appropriate corrections when necessary. Personally, and even though most of my work is now done on the Mac platform I choose gamma 2.2

Adjust the slider until the inner grey square blends with the outer frame, squinting slightly can help. Finally, deselect the "View Single Gamma" checkbox.

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Step 6

This step is where we neutralise the colour imbalances inherent in our monitor. Adjust each of the sliders in turn so as to blend the inner square with its coloured surround. Again squinting is a great help.

Green is usually the most difficult to get right, but persevere. The closer you get to a perfect match at this point the more accurate your final profile will be.

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Step 7

Choosing the "White Point" for your monitor is pretty much a formality these days. Even the die-hards are in agreement that 6500oK is probably the best option on most systems.

You should have already set the Hardware white point via the dials/buttons on the monitor. Most monitors have a native white of 9300oK, so do make sure and check what it has been set to.

Choosing 6500oK provides the cleanest and brightest white point and closely matches daylight. If you feel really confident you could select the "Measure" option, but be prepared for a struggle. You can choose 5000oK, but this usually produces a slightly dimmer and more yellow white point.

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Step 8

Generally speaking, it's better to leave the Adjusted White Point setting at "Same as Hardware". 

Nevertheless, this option, when available, is used to choose a working white point for monitor display if that differs from the hardware white point set in the last step. For example, if your hardware white point is 6500oK, but you want to edit an image at 5000oK  because that most closely represents the environment in which it will normally be viewed, you can set your Adjusted White Point to 5000o K, and Adobe Gamma will change the monitor display accordingly: However, choosing this approach will all cause the graphics card colour LUT to be adjusted quite severely, and depending upon the graphics card the screen can look quite ugly on some systems. As indicated above I recommend that you choose "Same as Hardware" and thus avoid this problem.

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Step 9

That's it, if all has gone well you will have adjusted the brightness, contrast and colour settings of your monitor to the optimum values.

Make a quick check using the "Before" and "After" radio button. If you're happy that the screen display now looks more neutral than before press the "Finish" button and "Save" the profile. Once saved the profile will be available for use by the OS and Photoshop.

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The advantage of Adobe Gamma is that it's free, whereas the third party products can cost nearly as much as Photoshop. However, since they use "hardware" and not the "eyeball" for the measurements we are assured of much more accurate calibration.

There are a number of third party alternatives to Adobe Gamma, which can be purchased from companies such as Color Vision and Xrite.

Useful Information on location of  ICC/ColorSync Profiles

Profile locations:

Windows 98 and 98 Second Edition - folder named windows/system/color 

Windows 2000 and Me - sub-folder named system32/spool/drivers/color 

Mac - ColorSync profiles are located in the System Folder/ColorSync Profiles folder

Part 2 - Photoshop 6 Colour Settings

Now begins the process of configuring Photoshop for how we want it to handle colour in our documents. This is achieved through the new "Color Settings" dialog found under the "Edit" menu.

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The new "Color Settings" dialog is the control room for the Photoshop 6 colour management system, and like all control rooms it's complicated. The default setting is "Web Graphics Default", but this is certainly not the best. The sooner we get things moulded into our own preferred configuration the sooner we can begin working with Photoshop 6 in earnest.

I will work my way through each section of the "Color Settings" dialog in turn. Note the "Description" box at the bottom of the dialog. As the mouse is moved across the various pop-up menus, etc. you should see a short but informative explanation of what each menu does. Also note the checkbox labelled "Advanced Mode", it's probably best that you select it now. At least that way you will see everything that the "Color Settings" has to offer, even if some are only applicable to the most advanced of Photoshop users.

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The first section is labelled "Settings"; this is simply a pop-up menu with a list of pre-set Photoshop settings, plus any that you may have saved. You need not worry too much about this section just yet.

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Working Spaces

The next section is labelled "Working Spaces", and as I discussed earlier it will determine the working space of certain images, namely the 3 types I mentioned above.

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There are four types of Working Space in Photoshop, RGB, CMYK, Grey and Spot. For the purposes of this exercise I will concentrate mainly on the RGB color space, since the other three are of no real importance if you're printing colour images to a consumer class inkjet printer from Epson/Canon/HP. If you're really interested in the others read the material by Andrew Rodney and Chris Murphy that I mentioned earlier.

RGB - Working Space

Clicking the RGB pop-up menu with the mouse will produce a list of options similar to that shown below. I chose "Adobe RGB (1998)" because it's the Working Space I settled on when using Photoshop 5. Notice that Adobe RGB (1998) appears within a group of four Working Spaces, each of which is device-independent, and in common use with a wide range of Photoshop users. Typically "sRGB" will be confined to those users solely interested in web design, "ColorMatch" is a favoured choice of many Mac users and "AppleRGB" is apparently for Mac web design.

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Notice that just above the four common Working Spaces we have "Monitor RGB" (green spot in the screen grab), and in the case of Mac systems "ColorSync RGB". "Monitor RGB" is simply the Working Space of your monitor as created by the Adobe Gamma utility (or a 3rd party software/hardware combination).

Unlike version 5 Photoshop 6 no longer shows in any obvious way, which monitor profile is being used. However, a quick check for "Monitor RGB" in the RGB Working Space pop-up should put your mind at rest. It is possible to select your monitor space as the Photoshop Working Space, but this is not really a good idea. "ColorSync RGB" is ONLY available to Mac users and will reflect the settings chosen as part of the ColorSync 3.x setup.

The actual list of options available for selection as Working Spaces differs depending on whether you activated Advanced Mode, or not. If you chose to activate Advanced Mode then the list of available RGB profiles will be quite extensive.

If you had previously been using another Working Space such as "BruceRGB" then it should also appear as one of the options in this extended list. If it doesn't then you can create the Working Space yourself by choosing "Custom" (yellow spot in the screen grab). The dialog below appears and you simply type in the data as shown for the Primaries etc, remember to give this new Working Space a name and click "OK".

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CMYK - Working Space

Making your choice of CMYK Working Space isn't that different to RGB except of the list of available colour profiles is rather different. Again, having "Advanced Mode" activated gives us a more extensive list.

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As mentioned above, the choice for you make is pretty much irrelevant if using a consumer class inkjet printer. In my case I just picked US. Web Coated, but notice that we can also pick the old Photoshop 4 or 5 default CMYK options, the ColorSync settings (Mac only), or even customise our own settings as shown below.

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Example - Customised CMYK

Remember the above screen grab is an example of a customised setup, don't even consider trying to configure your setup to match it.

Greyscale - Working Space

The Greyscale Working Space has probably undergone the biggest change from Photoshop 5 days. We now have access to two gamma settings, a series of five pre-set dot gain curves, the ColorSync "Grey Work Space" (Mac only) and the ability to customise the dot gain to our own requirements. This latter option is of particular significance to users of Jon Cones Piezography Black and White printing system (to be discussed in a separate essay). The screen grabs below show the various options and a typical customised "Dot Gain" curve.

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Please note that if you choose to use a "Custom Gamma" or "Dot Gain" this will be the Working Space listed in the Grey Working Space pop-up menu.

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Example - Customised Dot Gain Curve

One very important point, and one not to be missed regarding Greyscale. Greyscale  is no longer tied to the CMYK setup! This is why some legacy greyscale documents might not look quite the same as they did in Photoshop 5.x 

Spot - Working Space

The Spot pop-up menu is broadly similar to the greyscale, but for spot colours. The options that we find include a series of five pre-set "dot gain" options and the facility for customising the "dot gain" curve if required. In my case I simply selected the standard 20% option.

Colour Management Policies

Colour Management Policies is a new phrase introduced by Adobe with Photoshop 6. The screen-grab below shows a typical setup, but this hides a lot of important information.

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This section is probably the one that will cause most new Photoshop  users the greatest difficulty and for that reason the explanation that I give below will appear quite wordy, but don't be put off. Also, don't be fooled by the fact that some of the choices have a direct equivalent in Photoshop 5, there are others that bear no relation, and for that reason, each needs to be viewed carefully.

The area zoned in blue in the above screen grab is VERY important and I highly recommend that you make the same choices for Profile Mismatch and Missing Profiles as I have shown above. I usually refer to these particular selections as my "safety net", you'll see why shortly.

Basically each Working Space will have the same set of three options, although we need not configure each identically. These options are called Policies and include: -

(a) Off

In really simple terms, the "Off" Policy ensures that Photoshop does as little as possible when dealing with profiles. In most circumstances, it really isn't a good choice and certainly not the choice to be made by new users. The following will give you some idea as to the default behaviour when this choice of policy is made.

Choosing "Off" will ensure that NEW images/documents will (by default) be saved without an embedded profile.

Opening an existing image that has an embedded profile that does not match the current Working Space (profile mismatch) will cause that embedded profile to be stripped out of the file. The image will subsequently be saved with no embedded profile. The following dialog will appear if Ask When Opening has not been activated for Profile Mismatches

The problem with this configuration as compared to the one I recommended in the "Blue Zone" above is that the user either accepts what Photoshop dictates or doesn't open the image at all, not much of a choice. To me this choice is akin to the novice high wire walker operating without a "safety net", stay on the wire or fall off and break their neck!

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On opening an image with an embedded profile that matches the current Working Space, it will be retained and subsequently saved with the image.

The default Pasting behaviour between images is to retain numerical values (RGB pixel values), not the appearance. This means that no Conversion between colour spaces will take place.

(b) Preserve Embedded Profiles

For most situations this is my preferred choice of color management policy since it offers the greatest degree of flexibility, assuming the safety net mentioned above is in place. The following should give you an idea as to the default behaviour of Photoshop 6 when this choice of policy is made.

Choosing "Preserve Embedded Profiles" will ensure that when an image is opened into Photoshop and is found to have an embedded profile that differs from the current Photoshop Working Space, then that image and its associated profile will be left intact, unless the user decides otherwise. By default, Photoshop will make no attempt to convert the image to the current Working space; the original embedded profile will be retained and subsequently saved with the image. Nevertheless, even though the image and Photoshop are no longer in sync, colour space wise, it is the case that the image preview is accurate.

The following dialog will appear if Ask When Opening has not been activated for Profile Mismatches. Again, my comment about Photoshop imposing its will on proceedings applies.

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When the image and the Working Space are matched then Photoshop will take no action; the image is opened and saved as normal.

The default behaviour when Pasting either an RGB or Greyscale image is slightly more complex; whereby the appearance of the pasted image will be preserved but the numbers will change (the pixel values will change). In the case of CMYK it is the numbers that will be retained, not the appearance.

If the image being opened or imported has no embedded profile then Photoshop will use the current Working Space for editing and previewing purposes, however, the profile will NOT be embedded into the image when it is subsequently saved.

Creating a new document with this policy setting will mean that the current Working Space is used for editing, previewing and the associated profile will eventually be embedded into the file when saved.

(c) Convert to Working Space

This policy behaves in an almost identical fashion to Photoshop 5. It's for this reason that many tend to favour it and in reality, it isn't a bad choice.

By default, if an image with no embedded profile is opened into Photoshop then the current Working Space will be used for editing and previewing, however, upon saving the image no profile will be embedded.

If an image is opened or imported and has an embedded profile which is found to differ from the current Working Space then that image will be converted into, and subsequently saved in the Working Space. When the image and the Working Space are matched then Photoshop takes no action; the image is opened and saved as normal. Newly created images will be edited, previewed and ultimately saved in the current Working Space.

Finally, the default pasting behaviour is to convert and thus preserve the appearance of the image. However, the user will get the option not to convert the pasted image, hence preserving the numbers if the pasted image doesn't match with the target image.

Overriding the Default Policy Behaviour

The previous section described how our choice of Colour Management Policy determined the default behaviour of Photoshop 6 under various scenarios. However, we need not be confined to these pre-set outcomes. At the beginning of the previous section I recommended that each of the "checkboxes" for Profile Mismatches and Missing Profiles be set for Ask When Opening or Ask When Pasting as appropriate. It is only through setting these checkboxes to "ON" that we can enable the default behaviour override facility. Furthermore, it is only by setting these checkboxes to "ON" that we can activate the "safety net".

Basically the three checkboxes have the following impact on the Colour Management Policies: -

(i) Profile Mismatches: Ask When Opening

Photoshop has been set to present the user with a dialog box when the image being opened or imported (via a scanner) has an embedded profile that does NOT match the current Working Space. The dialog box looks like the following and contains three options; the pre-set selection is dependent upon the Colour Management Policy in operation at the time. Noticed that all the necessary information required to make an informed decision is present.

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The above example is pre-set for how the dialog would appear when the Colour Management Policy is set for Convert to Working Space. The user may now choose to allow the conversion, leave the image as it is or strip out the embedded profile and switch off colour management. Had the policy been Preserve Embedded Profile the dialog would have looked almost identical except that it would have been pre-set for "Use the embedded profile (instead of the Working Space)".

I think you will agree that the above dialog is lot more user friendly than the one that appeared under similar circumstances when Ask When Opening was "unchecked".

(ii) Missing Profiles: Ask When Opening

Photoshop has been set to present the user with a dialog box when the image being opened has no embedded profile. The dialog box looks like the following and again contains three options; the pre-set selection is dependent upon the Colour Management Policy in operation at the time.

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The above example is pre-set for how the dialog would appear when the Colour Management Policy is set for Preserve Embedded Profile. Since no profile is embedded Photoshop will try to assign the Working Space profile to the image. No conversion takes place, just the assignment of the Working Space profile.

The lower "Assign Profile (and the associated and then convert to working RGB)" checkbox is the best choice if you know the source images' true colour space and you want the image to appear in Photoshop. Typically, this option will be used for images from a digital camera or similar device which does not embed a profile in the image file. Note that the source profile MUST be known and available to the user before this option can be selected.

(iii) Paste Profile Mismatches: Ask When Opening

The screen grab below shows the "Paste Profile Mismatch" dialog that will appear in the event of the color spaces of the two images not matching.

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Note that the terms preserve "color appearance" and "color numbers" relate to the source image, not the destination.

The various dialogs that have been shown above are only a sample of those that may appear as you open or import images that contravene the defined Colour Management Policy. However, I think that the text messages included in each should be more than ample to explain what each option does and will therefore allow you to make the appropriate choice. 

Conversion Options

This section will only be present in the Color Settings dialog if the user chooses to activate the Advanced "checkbox". The screen grab below shows this section of the Color Settings dialog in its default configuration.

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Engine: this is the name of the engine, which will be used for all colour space conversions. Unless you have good reason to choose an alternative your should leave it at the default Adobe ACE setting. ACE is the direct equivalent of the Built-in engine used in Photoshop 5. Windows users should NOT be tempted to choose ICM. Mac users should keep in mind that the option chosen here will override the selection made in the ColorSync setup.

Intent: this pop-up menu allows the user to select from four different rendering intents, namely Perceptual, Saturation, Relative Colorimetric and Absolute Colorimetric. Typically, most users will choose between either the default Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual. A short description on each is provided in the Description section of the Color Settings dialog. A more comprehensive explanation can be found in the on-line help files.

As I understand things, with Relative Colorimetric it is only those source colours that are out of gamut (i.e. can't be viewed/printed accurately within the destination colour space) that will be mapped to the closest in-gamut colour, the remainder are left unchanged. This means that in the case of images with lots of out-of-gamut colours the visual relationship between the colours (after conversion) will almost certainly change. With Perceptual, all colours of the source colour space will be mapped to the nearest in-gamut colour of the destination colour space thus maintaining the visual relationship between colours. In other words, with Perceptual the whole image colour gamut will be compressed so that it fits within the new colour space.

Use Black Point Compensation: this should be kept "checked". Black Point Compensation ensures that the darkest neutrals of the source colour space are mapped to the darkest neutrals of the destination colour space. Also note that the issue of muddy blacks that used to occur with Photoshop 5 appear to have been resolved.

Use Dither (8-bit/channel images): as with Black Point Compensation this should be kept "checked". The description box at the bottom of the Color Settings dialog box will give you some clue as to what it does.

Advanced Controls

As with the Conversion Options, this section will only be present in the Color Settings dialog if the user chooses to activate the Advanced "checkbox". The screen grab below shows this section of the Color Settings dialog in its default configuration.

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An explanation on what each of these options do is provided in the "Description" box and on-line help files. The consensus at present appears to be that both settings should be left in the default "Off" condition.

The Desaturate Monitor Color option is the one that has greatest potential to cause confusion as it will cause the image on screen to become progressively less saturated as the percentage is increased. Those choosing to work in VERY wide colour spaces may find it useful, for the rest leave it "Off".

Finally, remember to select the Save button and give your settings a Name and Description by which you can call them back in the future, if for some reason you make a temporary change. Also note that you can have as many different sets of settings as you wish, although only one can be active at a time.

The screen grab below shows my own Color Settings configuration. Notice that I have chosen Off for my Greyscale Policy and use a customised dot gain for the greyscale Working Space, you shouldn't try to repeat these settings since they are specific to my Piezography BW workflow.

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Customised Color Settings Configuration

Part 3 - Soft Proofing and Printing

The most frequently asked question that I receive is "why don't my prints match the screen?" Generally it's down to poor monitor calibration, but on other occasions it's down to the fact that the user has unrealistically high expectations of what can be printed or worse, they have made the wrong selection in the Photoshop Print dialog.

This section will discuss the new features and commands introduced with Photoshop 6 that should go some way to answering the above question.

Soft Proofing

There will be many colours that simply cannot be printed accurately on an inkjet; the secret is to figure out before hand what they are. With Photoshop 5 there wasn't any simple way to preview on-screen how an RGB image would print to an inkjet printer, although a few workarounds have been published. Photoshop 6 has addressed this issue with the new Proof Setup and Proof Colors commands.

Basically soft proofing is nothing more than using your monitor as a proofing device, however, accurate proofing is dependent upon the quality of the monitor profile created as described in Part 1 and a profile for the printer. Note that when I write of printer profiles I mean those for specific media. In order that we may get Photoshop in a state ready for soft proofing we must set it up. This is done via the View > Proof Setup menu as shown below.

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Although Proof Setup will only affects the current or "active" image on your desktop, you MUST configure the proof setup via the Custom menu option with NO image/document open. If you attempt to configure Proof Setup with an image/document open then the existing Photoshop default Soft Proof profile will be retained as the default.

Before explaining how to configure Proof Setup I hope you also notice the three RGB options towards the middle of the drop-down menu. You can actually use these to preview how your image will look on other platforms, e.g. Mac or PC and on your own computer outside of Photoshop using the Monitor RGB option. . The Monitor RGB option is effectively the same as switching OFF the "Display Using Monitor Compensation" checkbox in Photoshop 5. Assuming that you are NOT using a VERY wide working space e.g. EktaSpace or Adobes Wide Gamut RGB the Monitor RGB option also provides an effective method of checking the quality of your monitor profile. If on selecting Monitor RGB, the image turns very ugly you can take it as read that the monitor profile is messed up. By ugly I mean significantly different, large colour shifts. Not just a bit brighter, darker or flatter (e.g. whites turn yellow).

The screen grab below shows a typical view of the Proof Setup dialog for printer output simulation. From this dialog you can easily select, configure and save your own customised soft proofing setup for any number of different printer profiles. Remember, make sure you have NO images/documents open when going through the process of defining your own default Soft Proofing profile.

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We begin the process by choosing the Profile; in the example shown above I have selected the Epson profile for Photo Paper. This choice will be the profile for the media that you want to simulate on the monitor.

Preserve Color Numbers

This option will only be available if the image and printer profiles are in sync, i.e. both are RGB or both are CMYK. Selecting the Preserve Color Numbers checkbox will usually result in a quite awful looking display, this is how it should be.

One purpose of this option is to enable you to see how the image would print if the media profile had not been selected in the Profile pop-up menu. There are apparently others, but these all well beyond my understanding. Normally it is best the leave the checkbox unchecked.

Intent

I described Intent previously when discussing the Conversion Engines. Typically, it will be best to stick with Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual when printing photographic type images.

Simulate

There are two options (or checkboxes) shown in this section of the Proof Setup dialog. In theory, the first Paper White allows you to simulate the colour of the paper white. The second Ink Black will enable you to simulate how dark black will appear on the media you are printing to. Note that selecting the Paper White checkbox will cause the Ink Black to be selected and greyed out. The resulting soft proof display can be quite disconcerting in that the overall tone of the image may tend to look compressed or slightly colour shifted. This may especially be the case when attempting to use scanner based profiles to soft proof the Epson 870/1270/2000 series printers. In such circumstances it may be best to ignore the use of the Paper White and Ink Black since it is VERY unlikely that they are in fact providing an accurate soft proof. No doubt things will improve as the suppliers of the profiling software update their programs to be compatible with this new Photoshop feature.

Printing to an Epson Inkjet

At first the new Print dialog in Photoshop 6 will appear a bit more complex than its predecessor. It contains a few new options and has (on the surface at least) omitted an option that caused considerable confusion in Photoshop 5, namely the Printer Color Management checkbox.

When Print is selected from the File menu a dialog similar to that shown below should appear. You should check to see the image Source Space and the Print Space: Profile. You will NOT be able to change the Source Space, nor do you really want too. The Source Space tells us which one of the Photoshop Working Spaces the image is actually in. If you were to leave the Print Space: Profile as Same as Source then the resulting print is likely to be less than optimal.

The following 4 examples show how to configure the Print dialog and driver if using an Epson printer if using the Mac OS and Windows drivers. 

Example 1 - Epson Recommended Automatic Settings (Mac OS)

The image should be in a Photoshop Working Space such as ColorMatch, Adobe RGB (1998), BruceRGB, etc.

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Photoshop 6 Print Dialog Configuration

  • Choose the media type (I show Photo Paper).

  • Select Printer Space Pop-up menu and choose "Printer Color Management". This ensures that the correct profile for the image is embedded into the image file and that the printer will carry out the correct colour space conversions.  Do Not leave the profile set for "Same as Source"

  • Choose Custom Mode.

  • Select Advanced, the following dialog appears.

  • In Color Management choose either of the options "Color Controls, PhotoEnhanced or ColorSync".

  • Select your preferred Print Quality setting.

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Epson Advanced Settings Dialog (Mac OS) - Epson Profile

Example 2 - Using ColorSync Media Profiles (Mac OS)

Again, the image should be in a Photoshop Working Space such as ColorMatch, Adobe RGB (1998), BruceRGB, etc.

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Photoshop 6 Print Dialog Configuration

  • Choose the media type (I show Photo Paper).

  • Select Printer Space Pop-up menu and choose an "ColorSync media profile". These will be supplied by Epson (only supplied with Mac drivers) or created by yourself or professionally.

  • Select Perceptual as the Intent.

  • Choose Custom Mode.

  • Select Advanced, the following dialog appears.

  • In Color Management choose "No Color Adjustment" mode.

  • Select your preferred Print Quality setting.

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Epson Advanced Settings Dialog (Mac OS) - Custom Profiles

Example 3 - Epson Recommended Automatic Settings (PC Windows)

As with the previous example, the image should be in a Photoshop Working Space such as ColorMatch, Adobe RGB (1998), BruceRGB, etc.

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Photoshop 6 Print Dialog Configuration - (PC Windows)

  • Ensure that the "Document" radio button is selected.

  • Select Print Space: Profile Pop-up menu and choose "Printer Color Management". This ensures that the correct profile for the image is embedded into the image file and that the printer will carry out the correct colour space conversions.

  •  Select "Setup", shown with blue boundary.

  • When Page Setup dialog appears select "Properties", the following dialog appears.

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  • Choose the Media type (I show Photo Paper).

  • Select Custom followed by Advanced, the dialog shown on the following page appears.

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Epson Advanced Settings Dialog (Windows Driver)

  • In Color Management, choose either of the options Color Controls, PhotoEnhanced, sRGB or ICC.

  • Select your preferred Print Quality and Halftoning settings.

Example 4 - Using ICC Media Profiles (PC Windows)

Again, the image should be in a Photoshop Working Space such as ColorMatch, Adobe RGB (1998), BruceRGB, etc.

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Photoshop 6 Print Dialog Configuration

  • Ensure that the "Document" radio button is selected

  • Select Print Space: Profile Pop-up menu and choose an "ICC media profile". These will be created either by you or professionally.

  • Select Perceptual as the Intent.

  • Select "Setup".

  • When Page Setup Dialog appears select "Properties", the following dialog appears.

  • Choose the media type (I show Photo Paper).

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  • Select Custom followed by Advanced, the following dialog appears.

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  • In Color Management, choose "No Color Adjustment".

  • Select your preferred Print Quality and Halftoning settings.

Part 4 - What else is New and Improved?

An interesting question! On the Colour Space conversion and profile embedding front we find that Profile to Profile command of Photoshop 5 is no more, some say thankfully; others are still wiping away the tears. Not to worry, Adobe has provided us with a new and more effective command that is broadly similar in operation, namely, Convert to Profile. They have also added a new command - Assign Profile. This command allows the user to assign any profile to an image without actually converting the image.

Finally, the Save As dialog has also undergone a few significant changes with new features being included, I'll also discuss these.

Assign Profile

The Assign Profile command is accessed via the Image > Mode menu and allows the user to assign any profile of their choosing to an image. The command itself was designed for only few limited uses, typically with images that have been scanned into Photoshop using a Twain module or a scanner package that has no means of embedding an ICC/ColorSync profile.

Assuming that the colour management Policy is not OFF, then an image scanned into Photoshop with NO embedded profile will be "assigned", "previewed" and subsequently "saved" in the current Photoshop Working Space. Obviously, this may not be the most appropriate colour space in which to edit or save the image, so assuming the user has the correct source profile we can make the necessary assignment.

It is important to note that unlike the Profile to Profile command of Photoshop 5, assigning a profile will NOT convert the image (will not change the numbers; i.e. RGB pixel values). It simply tells Photoshop the actual colour space that you wish to edit and view the image in (it changes the image appearance or meaning of the numbers).

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Other potential uses for Assign Profile include the removal of an embedded profile (don't colour manage the image) and assign a correction profile to an image that the user knows has been embedded with an incorrect profile (define a new source profile).

Convert to Profile

The Convert to Profile command found under the Image > Mode menu is basically an enhanced version of Profile-to-Profile. With Profile-to-Profile we were able to define the source colour space (and probably get it wrong), in Photoshop 6 this cannot be done since the assigned profile for the image is locked. The only way that this source profile can be changed is via the Assign Profile command discussed above.

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In the example above I show an image with an embedded profile (Source Space = Adobe RGB) being converted into an image that will be in ColorMatch (Destination Space). Whenever we make this conversion it will be the profile for the destination space that is embedded within the image file when saved. Convert to Profile changes the numbers (i.e. pixel values). The inclusion of the Preview checkbox allows the user to compare the conversion with and without Black Point Compensation, Dithering and any one of the four rendering Intents. The ability to preview the conversion is a real boon and shouldn't be ignored, use it to your benefit.

The Profile-to-Profile method of printing an image in Photoshop 5.x, here's its equivalent!

Actually, some users prefer to use the Convert to Profile command to prepare their images for printing, much as they did with Profile-to-Profile in Photoshop 5. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a very accurate preview of how the image will print, and gives the user the ability to use (and preview) the alternative conversion options.

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If you do choose this approach for printing then simply select Same as Source (direct equivalent of RGB in Photoshop 5) as the Print Space, the reminder of the settings are as described previously. Of course, the printer driver must be set for No Color Adjustment mode.

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Photoshop Print dialog settings required for this method of printing

Also, notice that whereas in the previous examples the Source Space was the same as the Photoshop Working Space it is now the name of the media profile you selected in Convert to Profile (e.g. Epson Stylus Photo 1270 Photo Paper). REMEMBER - convert your image back to your normal Photoshop working space before saving it.

Save As

Last but not least, the new Save As dialog throws up a host of new and useful features. Most of the new features are not really new at all; just their location has changed.

The Embed Profile checkbox previously existed in the Photoshop Profile Setup dialog. The chief difference being that whereas it impacted on each and every file being saved, the new option in the Save As dialog is specific to the image being saved. You can keep it ON or turn it OFF as you please. The latter option being a bad idea in most instances. Notice that the dialog even informs us which profile is being embedded.

The screen grab shown below is how the dialog appears on Mac OS systems; the PC Windows versions will look slightly different, but are functionally identical.

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Save As - Mac OS Version

The other save options present in the dialog are those associated with Layers, Alpha Channels, Annotations, etc. Again, we can choose to uncheck them and so save the image without the layers, etc. The Save As a Copy feature is engaged by default as soon as you uncheck Layers, this prevents you trashing a lot of hard work.

Conclusions

I wrote at the outset of this article that Photoshop 6 had many new and powerful features, some of which had effectively been ignored by various magazine commentators. The vastly improved colour management system was one such feature, which is a great pity because on its own it justifies the price of the upgrade. However, being fair to the commentators Adobe didn't exactly go out their way to beat a drum telling the world of these improvements, worse they haven't really managed to document the new setup in a clear unambiguous manner.

I hope this article has provided you with some insight as to how Photoshop 6 should be configured. Obviously each user will have his/her own preferences, but the principles are the same for all. As good management will tend to make for a more productive work environment, a good colour-managed workflow will make for a more productive experience in Photoshop. So now that we have Photoshop 6 configured we can get on with the business of creating and editing our images in the knowledge that things should appear in print as we see them on the monitor.

 

Adobe Community Professional

 

 
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