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July 2007

Calibrating the monitor removes uncertainty. With it comes the confidence to be able to fine tune images to perfection. But before we get too carried away, there are a couple of important changes to be made.


Every photographer uses Photoshop at some point and many use it every day. It is a superb piece of software, but the default colour settings are not set up for European conditions. Without adjusting these settings, problems can arise that compromise image quality and the accuracy of colour reproduction. The changes that need to be made are simple and straightforward and found in the colour settings within the application.

Colour settings have changed slightly from version to version in Photoshop. From Photoshop CS onwards go to Edit > Colour Settings. Open them and you will see a window closely resembling the screen shot below:

How Photoshop is configured out of the box for the North American market - these settings need to be changed for European conditions.

How Photoshop is configured out of the box for the North American market - these settings need to be changed for European conditions.

What we are looking for is the settings pull-down menu. Depending on the version of Photoshop, we need to choose Europe Prepress or Europe Prepress 2. The key part of the setting is the RGB space - Adobe RGB 1998 in this case.

The settings that should be used are either Europe Prepress (Photoshop CS) or Prepress 2 (Photoshop CS2 / 3)

The settings that should be used are either Europe Prepress (Photoshop CS) or Prepress 2 (Photoshop CS2 / 3)

Secondly, we need to look further down the window and ensure that 'Preserve Embedded Profiles' is checked for RGB, CMYK and Gray (Black and White).

By confirming these settings, we are ensuring that the images are not inadvertently assigned the wrong colour space, something akin to sticking a label that says ‘Cherry Jam’ on a jar of strawberry jam.

So far, the image has been shot in Adobe RGB and the monitor has been calibrated. By setting up Photoshop correctly, everything is now ready for adjusting your images. Working with them in Adobe RGB, the colour space they were shot in, ensures that no image information is unnecessarily discarded.

Once the adjustments have been made to the images and saved, there are two further steps before the process is complete. The file needs to print correctly and secondly, it needs to be handed off to clients with the confidence that it will reproduce as intended.


Printing seems like a simple enough affair, but how many people never get their prints to match their screens?

The screen is now absolute; it is calibrated and correct. It should not be adjusted. The key is to get the print to match. This is, in fact, much simple than it sounds.

A little understanding of the processes going on is required. Basically, both Photoshop and the printer can manage colour during the printing process. This is the cause of most problems. It is essential to ensure that only one process is in control or complications will result.

Enabling printer colour management in Photoshop

With an image on screen in Photoshop go to File > Print with Preview. On the right side of the dialogue box, choose ‘More options’ and under the image, use the pull down menu to select ‘Color Management’. This is where it all happens.

 Print with Preview on Photoshop CS2

Print with Preview on Photoshop CS2

Under the 'Print' heading, select 'Document (Profile Adobe (1998))'

For 'Options' select 'Color Handling': This is where the choice between the printer and Photoshop handling the colour is made. Choose ‘Let Photoshop Determine Colors’

The new, simpler dialogue in Photoshop CS3

The new, simpler dialogue in Photoshop CS3

Photoshop CS3 has changed quite a lot from previous version. Printing is much simpler:

  • Go to 'Print';
  • On the right side of the screen choose 'Color management' from the top pull down menu and the other options as shown in the screen shot below:

The printer profile should be chosen as per other versions of Photoshop.

Printer profile

The next step is to select a printer profile. Ensure this is not ‘Adobe RGB’ or ‘Working RGB’. Determine a profile that represents the paper and quality settings that are being used by the printer.

For example, for a Canon PIXMA iP5000: The profile will be called ‘Canon iP5000 PR1’. This tells us the profile is for the PIXMA iP5000, which is printing on Canon Photo Paper PRO PR-101 paper at quality level 1 (the maximum).

Here is the naming convention for the Canon consumer printer range:

MP = Matte Photo Paper MP-101
SP = Photo Paper Plus Glossy PP-101
PR = Photo Paper Pro PR-101
SG = Semi Gloss Paper SG-101 or SG-201

The number 1, 2, 3 or 4 corresponds to the position of the quality slider in the Canon driver so PR1 is Photo Paper Pro quality level 1 (the highest)

Disabling printer colour management

With Photoshop correctly set, all that remains is to adjust the printer settings to prevent colour management happening within the printer driver.

On Mac:

  • Once ‘Print’ has been selected, the printer driver dialogue appears. This is standard for all makes of printer;
  • Under ‘Colour Options’ select ‘Colour adjustment’ and then pull down the menu to ‘No adjustment’. This turns the printer's colour management off.

On PC:

  • The procedure is similar. Choose ‘Print’;
  • When the printer choice is displayed, for example Canon PIXMA iP5000, select ‘Properties’ to make changes to the print settings;
  • Choose the ‘Main’ tab to select paper type and print quality;
  • Halfway down the window is ‘Colour / Intensity’. Select ‘Manual’ then ‘Set’;
  • In the manual colour adjustment window, select ‘Colour Correction’ to ‘None’. This disables printer colour management.

Printer colour management has now been enabled in Photoshop and disabled in the printer driver for both platforms. With the correct paper type, print quality and colour profiles selected, your printer will now generate an image that matches the screen very closely.

The print

Clients might not have good, calibrated monitors. An accurate print, sent out to the client with the digital image on a disk, gives them an indication of the quality of your work. It also provides the cross check of a hard proof so they can see how the image should look when printed in their brochure or magazine.

With basic colour management now in place, many of the issues of working with digital images are removed. Images can be shot in the knowledge that what you see is what can be handed to the client on a disk or by email.