Color Management 101 For Dye Sublimation

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 predictable results.

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 color gamut.

- 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.

Monitor Calibration

Note: 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, www.displaymate.com  or MonacoEZColor 2, www.monacosys.com. 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 ICC profile 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 software from www.colorvision.com or a colorimeter or spectrophotometer using the MonacoProof or MonacoProfiler software from www.monacosys.com.

Once your monitor is properly adjusted and profiled, what you see on the monitor will  match the information in your digital image file.

Printer Settings

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 102.

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 author.

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