A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

In my Soft Proof Preview tutorial I described the process of using your display as a Proofing device. However, a number of readers have asked how this concept can extended so that they can use their own inkjet printer as a proofing printer. In this short tutorial I describe the steps involved.


You should begin by setting up Photoshop's soft proofing feature so that you can simulate on-screen how the final print will appear. The press Profile (shaded red) would normally be supplied by the company running the press or one you've created yourself for that press. For the purposes of this tutorial I've chosen a profile I created for a press that I have used in the past. Remember that the accuracy of your proof print depends a lot on this profile so be sure that it is truly representative of the press and paper stock to be used. The selection of Simulate: Paper White is optional since it's only used for display purposes. When this setting is checked the Soft Proof uses an Absolute Colorimetric rendering when simulating the print on your monitor. Using it should allow you to see how the base colour of the media influences other colours within the image. A side effect of of using this particular setting is that the appearance of the image will become very flat and bluish. This is not really something that you should be concerned about but if it does upset you then simply follow Bruce Frasers advice and look away from the screen when you activate the Simulate: Paper White setting.


Configuration of Photoshop CS and CS2 Proof Setup dialog

Next you need to configure the Print with Preview dialog so that you're using the profile chosen in Proof Setup as the Source Space (Photoshop CS) or Print (Photoshop CS2) . You then select the media profile for the inkjet printer that you'll be using as the proofing printer. The profile shown in the blue shaded area is a custom built profile for my Epson 2100/2400, but you'll be using one that matches your own printer/ink/media combination. The Intent can be either Relative Colorimetric (RC) or Absolute Colorimetric (AC). Using RC leads to a proof print that has the restricted CMYK gamut of the press but with the clean bright whites of the inkjet media being used. Using AC tends to produce a proof print that has the restricted CMYK gamut of the press but with the whites of the press stock. Generally using AC will result in a proof  print that appears flat when compared to the RC proof print but in overall terms it is a more accurate indicator of how the final print from the press will appear.


Photoshop CS - Print with Preview Configuration for Cross-rendering

Assuming that everything is configured correctly in both dialogs you can hit the Print button and Photoshop will do an-the-fly conversion from the document colour space to the press profile defined by you in the Proof Setup dialog followed by a further conversion to the inkjet printer profile defined in the Print with Preview dialog.

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