Before I get into describing the various Photoshop and Print Driver
configurations I need to clarify two aspects of print making that still
seem to confuse a lot of Photoshop users:
Desktop inkjet printers from Epson, Canon, Hewlett
Packard, et al may use CMYK or multiple shades of CMYK coloured inks.
However, this doesn't
make them CMYK printers. Occasionally you'll see this type of printer
referred to as Non-Postscript printers. The reason I stress this
point so much is that the device drivers supplied with these printers
are not designed to print CMYK mode documents. So be warned, any
attempt to produce a CMYK document directly from a desktop
inkjet printer will result in disappointment.
you're using a monitor intended for photographic or video editing, the
colour gamut of an image displayed cannot be fully reproduced in print. We can
often get close, but never an exact match, that is unless we manipulate
the image such that the colour gamut is significantly reduced.
Note that while the
initial screenshots used for this tutorial use the macOS version of Photoshop they
should still be useful to those of you using either
Windows 10. The print driver screenshots are based on the Epson SureColor
SC-P700, but should be compatible with most other recent models from
Note: While all
Epson print drivers install a set of ICC media profiles they are
usually contained within an installer package that Lightroom Classic
and Photoshop may not have direct access to. This tutorial from Conrad
Chavez provides detailed instruction on how to make the ICC printer
profiles visible - Printer
profiles missing on macOS: A permanent solution
Producing a Print
The following screenshot shows the
Printer Setup and Color
Management sections within Photoshop Print Settings
dialog box. In particular, the Color Management section enables you to
define the Color Handling and Printer Profile options
along with the Rendering Intent used to convert the document between
the document profile and printer profile.
To the right of the preview image and reading
from top to bottom we have a
Print Setup, which gives access to the printer driver along with options
for positioning and scaling
prints. Pressing the Print Settings button will open your printer
driver dialog thus giving you access to the various settings for color
management, page layout, etc. The actual appearance of dialog will differ according
to your OS and printer vendor.
is the default view for the Print dialog. The preview window
is fully color managed and includes the ability to soft-proof images. The
soft-proofing is controlled by the three checkboxes below the
preview image. These are labelled Match Print Colors, Gamut Warning
and Show Paper White. To keep things simple I will focus on
only those settings that fall within the Color Management
section in figure 1 above. I will also give a brief summary of each
option and hopefully give you better idea which combinations are best
suited to particular print tasks:
Color Handling - this is the pop-up
menu from which you choose the preferred method of managing
color when printing from Photoshop. By adopting this approach
Adobe have separated the workflow aspects of printing from the
media choices. There are three color handling options, and each has its own
associated preset configuration within the Print Settings dialog,
thereby helping the user avoid erroneous settings.
Printer Manage Colors - with this
option Photoshop instructs the printer to carry out the
conversion between the document color space and the printer
vendors preferred color space. Photoshop will not change
(convert) the document if this option is selected. This is the
most appropriate option when you don't have ICC media profiles
for your particular printer/media combination.
Photoshop Manages Colors - with this
option Photoshop will convert the document to the printer/media
profile that you have selected in the Printer Profile
pop-up. Many desktop printers are now supplied with generic media
profiles, but much more color accurate prints can be obtained if custom
profiles are used. However, as the yellow alert badge warns, for this option to work correctly
color management must be switched off in the printer driver.
Separations - this option is used
when printing CMYK documents where each channel is handled
separately. If your document is RGB the option will be greyed
Printer Profile - as its name implies this
is the pop-up menu from which you choose the ICC profile associated
with the printer/media combination you'll be using. This pop-up will
only be active when Photoshop Manages Colors is selected in
the Color Handling pop-up. By default, it will actually show
the document color space, so make sure that you don't forget to
choose the appropriate printer/media profile before hitting the Print
Normal Printing - Rendering Intent and Black Point Compensation
- again, depending upon your choice in Color Handling one or
both of these settings may be greyed out. Irrespective of whether
it's greyed out or not, most desktop photo printers (inkjets) will
ignore these two settings when Printer Manages Colors is
selected from the Color Handling pop-up.
The Description box is a useful feature within
the Print dialog in so far as it provides short explanations
for each of the settings and options. The description itself is
triggered when you hover the mouse over the various buttons and
pop-up menus (e.g. Color Handling, Rendering Intent,
Black Point Compensation, etc).
Position and Size
is where you can position the document on the page and enabling scaling
to fit the page, etc.
The reaming sections
(i.e. Print Marks, Functions, and Postscript Options)
can be ignored.
It's all about Workflow
As outlined above there are
three choices or more
accurately workflow options contained within the Color Handling
pop-up. However, this tutorial will only discuss two of them, leaving
the third (i.e. Separations) for others to explain.
The default configuration for the Print dialog
is shown below as Figure 2. Notice that Color Handling is set to
Printer Manages Colors. For the purpose of this tutorial we'll
call this setting Print Workflow 1.
When you choose Printer Manages Colors you're
informing Photoshop that the document should be passed directly to
printer driver with instructions on how to convert the document colors
into the printer optimised equivalent. Photoshop will not convert
the document nor will it take any account of the media specified in
your printer driver. Using this option Photoshop tags the document
so that the printer driver has all of the information needed to ensure
accurate color rendering of the print. The document color management is
handled solely by the printer driver.
Depending upon your printer model it is possible that Rendering
Intent may not be active for this workflow. Even if it is active
there is every possibility that the printer driver will ignore your
choice and use Perceptual, but don't worry either way.
This workflow, which is often referred to as
application color management, is really intended for the more
advanced/demanding Photoshop worker who needs total control of how
their documents are rendered to print. With Color Handling set
to Photoshop Manages Colors you are able to choose: specific ICC
media profiles, the Rendering Intent, and whether or not
Black Point Compensation is to be used.
When Photoshop Handles Colors is selected you'll
immediately be given access to the Printer Profile pop-up. By
default the profile shown in this pop-up is the Working RGB
profile (defined in Photoshop Color Settings), but you'll very
seldom want to leave it at Working RGB. As mentioned above it's
important that your actual choice of Printer Profile matches the
media and printer model that you'll be using, otherwise poor quality
prints are a virtual certainty. The best quality will be obtained when
you use an ICC media profile that has been created for your specific
printer. These can be created by you using specialist software/hardware
or purchased from a third party.
Figure 3 - Print Workflow 2
Notice that once a printer profile is selected both
Rendering Intent and Black Point Compensation" (BPC) are
activated. Generally you'll want to use Perceptual or
Relative Colorimetric, and have BPC checked. It's worth
noting that with many of the newer models from Epson it is probable that choosing
Relative Colorimetric will produce the more pleasing prints.
Tip: The important point to note about this
workflow is that your printer driver MUST be configured so
that ALL color management features are disabled. Often you'll
see this workflow referred to as the No Color Adjustment (NCA)
or Application Color Management workflow.
When the Print dialog has been configured to
suit your requirements it's time to press the Print button.
operating system has it's own unique printer driver configuration and
in some case the drivers differ from printer to printer. Given this
variation it's not possible for me to provide specific settings for
every case, but the following should give a good indication of how the
respective OS/driver combination should be configured.
Print Workflow 1 (Contd.)
When you press the Print
button (i.e. top right hand corner of Photoshop Print Settings dialog)
the "System" Print dialog as shown in Figure 4 should
appear. The System Print dialog might
appear quite complicated in so far as it includes multiple menu options.
Fortunately, you'll not need to access options such as: Layout, Color
Matching, Paper Handling, Cover Page and Scheduler.
Also, I really can't emphasise enough how important it is that
you configure the printer driver in the sequence that I describe
otherwise there is a good chance that one of the settings will revert
to the Epson default.
4 - "System" Print
Press the popup labelled Layout.
Next, choose Print Settings from the list of options. The
Printer Settings panel (figure 5) will appear.
5 - Epson Printer
Dialog - Main Window
For the purposes of this tutorial I will
concentrate on the type of Media Type (1),
Color Settings (2), Print
Quality (3) and printer
specific options (4) such as speed
For best results you should make sure that the settings Media
Type (1) is set to match the
paper that you'll be printing with and Print Quality (3)
should normally be set to the highest available resolution that is
compatible with the printer/media combination you're using. Generally,
High Speed (4) should be enabled
for fastest (bidirectional Finest Detail
should be enabled for best quality.
The remainder of this page discusses the options available for
Color Settings (2) and is
separated into two parts, the first deals with Print Workflow 1
and the second Print Workflow 2.
Color Settings (2) has
four options: Epson Standard (sRGB), Adobe RGB,
PhotoEnhance and Off (No Color
Adjustment). Workflow 2 uses the Off (No Color
Adjustment) option. Also, remember
that when this option is selected the Photoshop Print dialog
should be configured as shown in figure 2 above.
6 - Epson Print Driver:
Print Workflow 1
Of the four sub-options
available under Color Settings, I think Epson Standard (sRGB)
and Adobe RGB are the best choice for printing photographic
I don't recommend the
use of the Advanced Color Settings, which lists a set of adjustment sliders.
Nevertheless, I have shown the panel for information. Leaving it
at the default settings and fixing tonal or color issues within
Photoshop is more likely to produced better results because you have a
live preview the adjustments. Using the Epson adjustment sliders usually
requires multiple iterations of adjustment and print before everything
6 - Advanced Color
Print Workflow 2 (Contd.)
The Color Settings option referred to as
Off (No Color Adjustment) is ONLY appropriate when you're
using application color management (i.e. you have selected ICC media
profile in Photoshop Printer Profile pop-up (Figure 3). In other words, you should only use this
setting if you have chosen to configure Photoshop Print dialog
as shown in Print
Workflow 2 (Figure 3). This option produces by
far the best print quality. It's also worth mentioning that if you find
your final prints are light and magenta in appearance then there's a
very good chance that you chose Color Controls by mistake.