Hamilton Color Lab

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Softproofing In Photoshop
Ensure that your prints look like what you see on your monitor

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)...
Many of you have asked how to get your prints to look like the image you see on your computer monitor. While it is possible to achieve an accurate color match between your monitor and print, "perfect" (read "exact") color matching is probably impossible, even with professional equipment. This is due to the differences in color reproduction methods between monitor output and printer output. There are also discrepancies in the color gamut that can be rendered by various media.

Printed photographs reflect ambient light. We all know that light reflected from a print viewed outside in the sunlight will look very different from a print viewed indoors at night. Monitors generate their own light rather than reflecting ambient light. The colors emitted by the monitor will remain unchanged, regardless of changes in ambient lighting. This results in differences between respective colors when comparing a print to the same image viewed on your monitor.

From an article about color management and soft proofing on Adobe's web site...
"It's also worth bearing in mind the limitations of the color science on which the whole ICC color management effort is based. We still have a great deal to learn about color perception, and while the science we have works surprisingly well in many situations, it's only a model. The bottom line is that each of the different soft-proofing renderings to the monitor can tell you something about your printed images. We recommend that you experiment with the settings and learn what works for you and what doesn't."

Soft Proofing...
The procedure of soft proofing is simple, if your monitor is properly calibrated and profiled. One of the most powerful and useful features in Photoshop "soft proofing" is a method used to produce a preview on screen that accurately represents what a print from a given image file will look like. Soft proofing has been in Photoshop since version 6.0 and takes a great deal of guesswork out of editing images for final prints. In Photoshop, soft-proofing has its own set of controls separate from the Color Settings dialog. This separation of controls allows you to preview your output quite accurately. This is a huge advantage for those who print to RGB devices such as photo realistic inkjet printers and digital laser printers like our LightJet 430 and Frontier systems. When setup properly, Photoshop can provide a very accurate preview of what a final print will look like.

Basic Steps To Soft Proofing...
Calibrate your monitor using a device intended for monitor calibration (your eyes are not the tool to use for this). For soft proofing to work, your monitor must be properly calibrated and profiled (in the lab we use an Eye One system made by X-Rite). As mentioned above the type of ambient lighting in the room where you do your image editing will make a big difference in the appearance of your prints. After soft proofing your image files, prints should match your monitor. If they don't seem to match then you probably need to take a serious look at the environment that you're using for viewing your prints. Even and consistent daylight balanced lighting is always the desirable setup. Full spectrum fluorescent bulbs with a Kelvin temp of about 5500 should be more than adequate. Once you achieve even balanced lighting in your viewing/editing environment, keep it consistent. Being consistent will enable you to learn what to visually expect when comparing your monitor to your prints.



  • Download A Profile
    Click on the link below for the profile you want to download and "save" the zip file to your computer desktop. The profiles average about 550 KB so downloads are quick.

    Download a profile for Frontier output...
    Proofs, wallets, greeting cards, and reprints up to 10 x 15

    RGB_Frontier_Lustre.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our Frontier and Fuji Lustre photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_Frontier_Lustre.icc

    RGB_Frontier_Metallic.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our Frontier and Kodak Endura Metallic photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_Frontier_Metallic.icc

    RGB_Frontier_Glossy.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our Frontier and Glossy photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_Frontier_Glossy.icc

    Download a profile for LightJet output...
    Any size print up to 50 x 120 inches

    RGB_LightJet_Luster.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our LightJet and Fuji Lustre photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_LightJet_Lustre.icc

    RGB_LightJet_Matte.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our LightJet and Fuji Matte photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_LightJet_Matte.icc

    RGB_LightJet_Metallic.zip: For prints produced on our LightJet and Kodak Endura Metallic photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_LightJet_Metallic.icc

    RGB_LightJet_Glossy.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our LightJet and Fuji Lustre photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_LightJet_Glossy.icc

    RGB_LightJet_Pearl.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints produced on our LightJet430 and Fuji High Gloss Pearl photo paper. ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_LightJet_Pearl.icc

    Download a profile for Epson 9600 output...
    Satin Canvas - maximum live image size is 43.5 wide with length being determined by the length of the canvas roll.

    RGB_Satin_Canvas.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints that will be produced on our Epson 9600 ink jet printer on Satin Canvas media (artists canvas). ICC profile name after unzipping: RGB_Satin_Canvas.icc

    Epson - Cotton Etching.zip: Use this profile when softproofing for prints that will be produced on our Epson 9600 ink jet printer on Cotton Etching media (textured fine art paper). ICC profile name after unzipping: sunset_cotton_etching.icc

    All in one...
    ICC Profiles.zip: All of our printer profiles in one zip file.



  • Place and install the profile:
    Unzip and copy/move the profile to the correct directory (folder) on your computer:

    Mac OS X file path:
    "Users/Library/ColorSync/Profiles"
    If you are running a Mac with OS 9, place the profile in the "ColorSync" folder.

    PC Windows file path:
    "Windows or WINNT/System 32/spool/drivers/color"
    On your Windows machine right click the profile and select "Install Profile" from the contextual menu.


  • Set up custom proofing conditions:
    Once your image is opened in Photoshop go to "View/Proof Setup/Custom" and select the appropriate profile, select "Perceptual" as your rendering intent, and click "Ok". The following conditions work quite well for our Frontier and LightJet430 digital laser printers.

    Customize Proof Condition




  • Make your edits:
    You're now ready to make the final edits (density, color, contrast, etc.)to your image. Its recommended that you work using adjustment layers and flatten them once you have a file that displays with the attributes that you want to see in the print output (you may also want to save the layered file so you can go back and tweak individual layers).



  • Embed the soft proofing profile then save:
    Once you are finished editing your file please make sure that all layers are flattened, Alpha channels are removed, and that all guides have been cleared, then save your final print file with the soft proofing profile embeded. To embed the profile select from the menu bar at the top of your screen (Image/Mode/Convert To Profile). If you are using CS2 or higher (Edit/Convert to Profile). The same profile you used for soft proofing should automatically appear in the dialogue for "Destination Space". If it doesn't you can use the drop down menu to manually select it. Save the file and make sure the "Embed Color Profile" box is checked in the Save as menu.


  • Convert to Profile

    You "must" embed the same profile you used for soft proofing before saving and sending us the file.

    Note on soft proofed files:
    Please make a note in your print order instructions that you have soft proofed your files. This will ensure that our printers are aware that your files do not need additional corrections. You don't want us making additional corrections to your files after you have soft proofed them.