Why do we need Proof Setup?
Whilst our typical desktop inkjet printer uses CMYK inks, the images
and edit in Photoshop are usually RGB. Likewise your monitors
to display RGB values. We know that prints are
reflective and the output from the monitor emissive. We also know that
the colour gamut and dynamic range of printed material is vastly
different to that of our typical monitor. So given these mismatches
between the printer and monitor a good visual match between the two
devices is actually quite difficult to achieve. However, using the magic
of colour management we can use our monitor to provide accurate preview
or Soft Proof of how the image will actually print. Once we have an
accurate preview we can usually fine-tune the
RGB image to match capabilities of the CMYK printer.
do I need to make Proof Setup
Making it work is what this tutorial is all about.
Nevertheless, before you can even begin it will necessary for you to
obtain ICC media profiles for your particular model of inkjet
printer. Since media profiles are now available for most inkjet printers
this isn't as difficult as it once was. Normally they'll
be installed automatically with the Mac driver but PC users will probably
need to download them from one of Epson's
web sites. You'll also need to make sure that
the monitor is accurately calibrated.
When do we use it?
The answer to this question very much depends upon the image being
printed, the paper/ink combination and the quality of the ICC
profiles that you intend to use.
As mentioned above ICC media profiles will be required for
each paper/ink/printer combination. However, no matter how good these
profiles are they cannot work miracles and it's
very rare for any media profile to do equal justice to all images.
Typically, the dynamic range and colour gamut of the image will be
compressed but other issues such as small changes in colour balance are
equally possible. For some media types (e.g. matt paper) this compression
can be quite marked.
The method described below uses a workflow which is
ssimilar to that of
Bruce Fraser and David Blatner in the book Real World Photoshop.
Actually, if you
haven't already bought a copy then I recommend
that you do.
Stage 1 - Creating the soft proofing profiles.
Stage 2 - Creating the reference image
Stage 3 - Editing the image
Stage 4 - Printing the image
Stage 1 - Creating the soft proofing profiles
Before we can begin previewing our images, it is necessary to create
the preview profiles. At this point I am assuming that you already have
the necessary ICC media profiles.
suggests that may you wish to temporarily look away from the monitor when
setting Paper White to ON. This means that you don't see the very
dramatic change in image appearance that occurs when this option is
activated. The shift typically results in washed out shadows and
compressed highlights when compared to the non-proofed version. By
temporarily looking away from the monitor you're
allowing your eyes to adapt to the change. In theory, the Simulate: Paper
White and Ink Black options will take into account the limitations of the
black ink and the brightness of paper white. However, depending upon the
quality of the profiles theory and reality can be very different. Some
profiles may not even allow the selection of the Paper White checkbox,
although you shouldn't worry if it isn't an option.
likely notice that the original image shows a change relative to
the duplicate. Examples of the changes that can occur include the image,
depending upon the profile being used, becoming flat lacking contrast
and/or saturation or hue shifts. It may even take on a colour cast. Each
image will react differently. Although not obvious in
the screen shot I find that in the example shown below the red in
the shadow area (shown inside yellow boundary)
of the boat darkens significantly, the remainder of the image changes
Photoshop is giving us a very
useful message with the soft proof preview. If all has been configured
correctly and the media profiles being used are accurate, we should see
how the dynamic range and colour gamut of the image is going to be
compressed when printed.
Actually, with profiles for
matt papers the change can be very dramatic. Many have balked at this
point and gave up thinking that something was drastically wrong with
their media profiles. Certainly, the Epson media profiles will tend to
show less than ideal results with images containing saturated greens and
Stage 3 - Editing the Image (Example)
Make sure that you have the
original image and NOT the duplicate selected. The duplicate will
be used for reference; all edits will be applied to the original.
Choose the New Layer Set
option form either the Layer menu or via the Layer Palette.
Name the Layer Set so
that it relates to the media profile, e.g. Fuji
Each image will require its
own specific set of edits such as a curves adjustment, hue/saturation,
etc. The example shown here is curves edit and it should be applied via
an Adjustment Layer.
The adjustment shown above
simply darkens the 3/4 tones and lightens the 1/4 tones. The mid-tones
My next edit was to increase
the saturation of the reds. Again, an Adjustment Layer was used.
Even increasing the
saturation of reds by 25% wasn't sufficient in some areas, so I made a
selection of those areas that still required adjustment. Remember that if
you make a selection it is best to apply some feathering so that an
abrupt edge is avoided.
A slight reduction in the
shadows and a further increase in the 1/4 tones was sufficient to match
the original with the duplicate.
The screen grab below shows
the matched pair of images along with the three Adjustment Layers
making up the Layer Set for "Fuji Hunt SemiGloss
Paper" on my Epson 2100 printer.
Once we are satisfied that
the edited original looks like the reference image (our unedited
duplicate) we can save the original complete with the Layer Set.
Remember the Layer Set contains ALL the edits necessary for
printing on a specific media/ink/printer combination.
If we need to print the same
image on a different printer or paper, it will be necessary to switch the
above Layer Set
off and create a new one for the new combination.
The main benefit of this
method comes from using Adjustment Layers configured as Layer
Sets. With Layer Sets we can maximise number of
printer/ink/media combinations for any given image and yet only have a
very small increase in file size. By way of example, I have images with
up to four layer sets, each for a different media type or printer.
Stage 4 - Printing the Image
The final stage of the process is to make the print. Rather than
repeat material that is already available elsewhere on this site I have
simply provided the link to the relevant tutorials.
For more details on how to manage colour when printing
within Photoshop see:
Colour when Printing. For more details
printing within Photoshop see the tutorial
Print with Colour Management.