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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).




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.




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.




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.



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.



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.



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.



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