One of the most frequently asked Photoshop questions is: "why
don't my prints match the screen?" Generally it's down to poor
monitor calibration, but on other occasions it's simply 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 with
This section will discuss the options and commands associated with the
Photoshop 7 Soft Proof feature and should also go some way to
answering the above question. I haven't included any reference to
specific printer driver setups as these have been covered in a dedicated
Managing colour when printing
Basically soft proofing is nothing more than using your monitor as a
proofing device. However, accurate proofing is dependent upon the quality
and accuracy of the monitor profile that I described in Part 1. You will
also need good quality media profiles for each printer/media/ink
In order that we may get Photoshop in a state ready for soft proofing
we must configure the relevant dialogs. This is done via the View >
Proof Setup > Custom menu as shown below.
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.
The various proofing options are:
- Working CMYK - soft proofs the image using the current CMYK
working space defined in the Colour Settings dialog.
- Working Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black
Plate or Working CMY Plates - soft proofs the image using
the current CMYK working space defined in the Colour Settings
- Macintosh RGB and Windows RGB - soft proofs the
image using the standard Mac or Windows monitor profile (i.e. Apple
RGB and sRGB respectively).
- Monitor RGB - soft proofs the image using your actual
monitor profile. If the image look bad when this option is selected
you know that your monitor profile is broken and needs to be recreated
as described in Part 1.
- Simulate Paper White - provides a preview of the shade of
white for the paper based upon the active soft proof profile . This
option requires a very accurate profile otherwise the whites of the
image can appear significantly more blue/yellow than it should.
- Simulate Ink Black - provides a preview of the dynamic
range of the image based upon the active soft proof profile.
The screenshot below shows a typical view of the Proof Setup
dialog for an Epson 1270 inkjet printer simulation. From this dialog we
can easily select, configure and save our 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 Proof profile.
We begin the process by choosing the Profile; in the example shown
above I have selected the Epson profile for Premium Glossy paper. This
choice will be the profile for the media that we want to simulate on the
Preserve Colour Numbers
This option will only be available if the image and profiles are in
sync, i.e. both are RGB or both are CMYK. Selecting the Preserve
Colour Numbers checkbox will usually result in a quite awful looking
display, this is how it should be. Basically we are simulating how the
document/image will appear if it is not converted to the actual device
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.
Use Black Point Compensation
I described Use Black Point Compensation previously when
discussing the Conversion Engines. Typically, it will be best to
keep it checked.
Again 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.
There are two options (or checkboxes) shown in this section of the
Proof Setup dialog. The first Paper White allows you to
simulate, on the monitor, the shade/colour of the paper white. The
second Ink Black will enable you to simulate, on your monitor,
the dynamic range defined by the media profile (i.e. 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. Not all profiles will support both options.
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 (e.g. white takes on a blue cast). This can often occur
when using scanner derived printer profiles. 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
To save your customised proof setup simply choose the Save
button and give the soft proof profile a name that clearly indicates the
printer/media combination for which it should be used. The name of a
saved soft profile will be appended onto the bottom of the list
immediately below Simulate Ink Black.
The saved soft proof profiles are saved to the following locations:
Windows - Program Files/Common
Mac OS9.x - System
Folder/Application Support/Adobe/Color/Proofing folder
Mac OSX - Library/Application
A comprehensive tutorial describing the technique of soft proofing is