Color Management 101 For
Written by: Ernie Ziegler,
Memories On Tile , February 2003
The object of color management is to produce an
image on a finished product in which the colors perfectly match the display on
your monitor. Color management can help you achieve more consistent and
Fundamentals of Color Management
- Each device that deals with your image
in some way, whether it's your scanner, digital camera, monitor or printer, has
a unique way of handling color. The vagaries among these devices must be
overcome and replaced by consistency of color interpretation by known standards.
- The range of color that each device in the digital
workflow is able to capture is known as its
- A method of translating color from one device to
another is required. This method, known as a
profile, must interpret color accurately based on known standards.
- Basic color management workflow starts with the
monitor and the printer.
Every monitor displays colors differently and will shift in color with age.
There are three ways to calibrate a monitor.
- You can use the free included Adobe Gamma utility in
Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Elements. This doesn't provide a high degree of
accuracy because it relies on the subjective judgment of your eyes.
-A more accurate calibration can be made using software such as Display Mate,
or MonacoEZColor 2,
While more accurate than Adobe Gamma, the software still relies on your
evaluation. However, that evaluation is based on well designed test images that
allow consistent results.
-The best calibration method is to use a sensor
with special software designed to read the display of your monitor. The end
result is an actual
for your display and an ICC profile for your printer. This method makes use of tools such as
the monitor color sensor called a "Spyder" with PhotoCal or OptiCal
www.colorvision.com or a colorimeter or spectrophotometer using the
MonacoProof or MonacoProfiler software from
Once your monitor is properly adjusted and profiled, what you see on the monitor
will match the information in your digital image file.
For accurate transmission of the digital file information, to your
printer, you will need an ICC Profile written specifically for the ink, paper
and substrate you're using. This profile should be available from your ink
supplier along with the instructions for installing the profile on your
computer or you will be able to create your own ICC profiles from your color
calibration software mentioned above.
The foregoing should supply you with the basic knowledge to coordinate
color management between your monitor and printer.
Additionally you should calibrate your scanner, but that's for Color Management
It should go without saying that you need to practice, practice, practice to
become proficient with your image handling software.
Copyright © 2003 Ernie Ziegler. All rights reserved. This
article may not be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the