How to Make Color Profiles for a Printer

Written by katie yancey
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International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles allow for seamless colour management communication between your RGB computer monitor and CMYK printer. These colour profiles are automatically installed on your computer with the installation of the print drivers for your desktop printer. Simply using these pre-installed generic colour profiles for input and output devices can produce excellent colour results.

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  1. 1

    Configure the print driver by opening the "Print" dialogue box. (Remember that the verbiage in the "Print" dialogue box varies from printer to printer.) Click the "Properties" button in the "Print" dialogue box. In the "main" tab, select the type of paper you are using under "Type" from the menu under the "Paper Options" section. Select either "Photo" or "Best Photo" from the menu under the "Quality Type" section. Click the "Advanced" button. Under "Color Management", choose "Color Controls" or "PhotoEnhance" for basic print work. The "ICM" mode should only be selected if you are utilising ICC Profiles.

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    Open a test image with a wide range of tonal values using a graphics software package. Configure the "Proof Setup" options in your graphics software to use your custom printer profile. This soft proof shows you onscreen how your image will look printed.

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    Print your test image.

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    Calibrate the colours visutally between the print and your monitor. If the colours don't print as you expect, then adjust the colour profiles for both your monitor and printer.

Tips and warnings

  • Creating a colour profile for your monitor is an important step in printer calibration. Calibrate it using a hardware-based calibrator or an ICC-compliant calibration tool like Adobe Gamma in Windows or the Display Calibrator Assistant in Mac OS X.
  • Some printer manufacturers have downloadable colour management profile drivers available on their websites.
  • If you print on third-party photo paper, you can download printer-specific profiles from Kodak's or Fuji Film's websites.
  • Individual ICC profiles are required for each combination of paper, ink and printer.
  • The print drivers supplied with desktop inkjet printers are not designed to interpret the full CMYK colour gamut. For accurate CMYK prints, it is best to use a professional printing press.
  • Avoid using the "ColorSync" option under the "Color Management" menu for your printer, as it has been known to produce unsatisfactory results with some desktop printers.

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