On opening Photoshop 7 for the very first time we are presented
with an information dialog (shown below). The purpose of this dialog is
to warn the user that the Photoshop "Colour Settings" will be
automatically configured or to provide access for manual setup. As with
Photoshop 6 and unlike Photoshop 5 and 5.5 there is no "wizard" to
help the user through the process of configuring the "Colour Settings".
If Photoshop 6 is anything to go by many new users will panic at this
dialog and accept the defaults only to realise later that this was only a
For the purpose of this essay I to have chosen the "No" option
and have therefore accepted the default Photoshop settings. However, I
chose this option for no other reason than to concentrate upon monitor
calibration and characterisation. Once I have discussed calibrating the
monitor we can return to colour settings.
Accurately calibrating and characterising the monitor is a critical
element for any colour-managed workflow. Our aim is to calibrate the
monitor at system level so that we can eliminate unwanted colour casts
from the monitor, and so obtain the best possible display
environment for editing our images. We also need to characterise the
monitor by means of an ICC device profile. This profile is simply a file
that includes a description of the characteristics of your monitor. The
monitor profile will then be used by Photoshop to compensate for the
monitor's colour-display limitations. Photoshop optimises the display of
images using the image/document profile (e.g. Adobe RGB, sRGB,
ColorMatch), and the monitor profile.
Adobe no longer installs Adobe Gamma with the Mac version of
Photoshop, however, Mac OS9.x or OSX users can use the
Monitor Calibrator supplied as part of ColorSync or copy
Adobe Gamma from the Photoshop installation CD. The Monitor
Calibrator utility operates in a similar fashion to Adobe Gamma
and so I'll not bother describing it here.
To calibrate and characterise the monitor Windows users should
open the "Adobe Gamma" utility or a third party alternative. For
many new users Adobe Gamma is more than sufficient and it's free.
Adobe Gamma is a "Control Panel" utility that is
accessed from the "My Computer > Control Panel". Before running
Adobe Gamma, it is best that the monitor has been switched on for at
least 30 minutes. It is also best to work in subdued lighting when
calibrating a monitor using Adobe Gamma. Another good tip is to
set the "Desktop Colour" to grey.
When the Adobe Gamma utility is first opened you will be asked
to make a choice between the "Step- by- Step (Wizard)" and the "Control
Panel" method. It's probably easier to use the "Step-by-Step
Using the Load button 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.
Before progressing to the next step, be sure to give the profile a
unique description and include the date (my example shows Mitsubishi
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.
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?" 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
Begin by keeping the "View Single Gamma" selected. However,
keep in mind that this option "ONLY" allows you to adjust the
relative brightness of the monitor.
Adjust the slider until the inner grey square blends with the outer
frame, squinting slightly can help. Finally, deselect the "View Single