Guide To Installing ICC Color Profiles For Soft Proofing
One might assume that if you create a file using Photoshop and a calibrated monitor, your lab should be able to create a print matching that file. While this is almost true, there is a critical element missing: Adjusting your monitor view for the printer and substrate (paper/canvas) being used.
The first and most important step is to insure that your monitor is displaying colors accurately. To do this, you will need to use a specialized monitor calibration tool. For home use, we recommend using the X-Rite ColorMunki Display – $125. For more professional use, we recommend the X-Rite i1 Display Pro – $250, or the Datacolor Spyder5Elite – $200.
Since all of our monitors are calibrated regularly, the print we make will make for you is based on how your file looks on a calibrated monitor. If your monitor is not calibrated, there is a strong likelihood that the print may not look like what you see on your un-calibrated monitor.
Professional printers like Fine Print Imaging also create individual “profiles” for each printer/paper combination they use. It is these custom-made ICC profiles that allow us to consistently and closely match prints to our monitor view.
Unless you download our profiles, install them into Photoshop or Lightroom, and use them in Soft Proofing, you may be in for a disappointment when you receive your prints! Soft Proofing allows you to see what we are seeing on our monitors and adjust your images to match your monitor – with our profiles applied. In short, soft proofing provides a means to view on your calibrated computer monitor what your print will look like when printed on a specific printer and a specific print media.
In Order To Implement Soft Proofing With Fine Print Imaging, You Will Need…
- A high quality, properly calibrated monitor. Don’t be misled by claims of $300 monitors that they are professional quality. A NEC 24″ Widescreen Color-Critical Desktop Monitor with a SpectraViewII calibration device included is an excellent monitor at a “reasonable” cost (if $1000+ is reasonable to you). For more great advice on monitors, check out the talented people online at Luminous Landscape. While in the past we haven’t recommended using a laptop to determine color accuracy, the latest laptops (2015 and newer) have come a long way. We still suggest using a stand alone high quality monitor, but if you are using one of the latest MacBook Pros, you should be OK.
- Adobe Photoshop CS or Lightroom. Both provide excellent tools for downloading ICC Profiles and Soft Proofing. Photoshop Help: If you need a little help to get started, we highly recommend viewing this 8 minute Adobe Photoshop Tutorial by Michael Rather. It’s basic but really good.Lightroom Help: For a great 10 minute video on soft proofing in Lightroom, we suggest you watch this video from Adobe TV’s Julieanne Kost, Senior Digital Imaging Evangelist, Photoshop & Lightroom. It covers out of gamut colors very well. You can also learn a lot about soft proofing in Lightroom from our friend Nat Coalson in his blog.
- The appropriate ICC Profile from Fine Print Imaging
Here Are The Steps To Follow…
- Go to the “Download ICC Profiles” link above and download the appropriate ICC profile for the paper/canvas you want to use. We suggest downloading to a folder you create called “ICC Profiles”.
- You are now ready to install the profile(s) into Photoshop. The directions are different for Windows PCs and Macs.
- With Windows – simply right click the profile and in the menu, choose “Install Profile.”
- Mac OS X – go to your hard drive Users/Library/ColorSync/Profiles. If your Mac runs on OS 9, place the profile in the ColorSync Folder.
- If Photoshop is open, make sure to close and reopen it so Photoshop will see the profile.
- Open your image in Photoshop. If your image is not already in the Adobe RGB 1998 work space please convert it by selecting “Image/Mode/Convert to Profile” from the top menu bar.
- Now go to “View/Proof Setup/Custom” to set up your Soft Proof. See image below:
- In the “Device To Simulate” drop down menu select the profile you would like to Soft Proof with. In this example, I have selected Fine Art Smooth 2017 FPI.icc.
- Select Perceptual Rendering Intent. Do not check Black Point Compensation or Simulate Paper Color/Black Ink.
Using Soft Proofing…
- This is the fun part! If you are new to this, we suggest you view one of the tutorials referenced above. The directions below apply to Photoshop.
- Open your image in Photoshop. You want to make a copy of your original/master file and use this copy to make all of your adjustments. To do this, go to “Image – Duplicate“. Then go to “Window – Arrange – Tile Vertically“. You now have the original file and your working copy file side by side.
- Go to View/Proof Setup. If you saved your ICC Profile with a new name, it will show in the window that pops up. If not, go to Custom and find your profile at the bottom of the opened window. Click on the selected profile.. You may see your on-screen image change in color and density.
- Based on what you now see on the screen, you’re ready to make the final edits (density, color, contrast, etc.) to your image. It’s recommended that you work using adjustment layers and flatten them once you have a file that displays with the attributes that you want to see in the print output (you may also want to save the layered file so you can go back and tweak individual layers).
- Once you are done, you can save your Soft Proofing setup by selecting “Save” and naming it. This will allow you to quickly recall the same setup in the future by going in to View/Proof Setup and the setup name you just saved will appear at the bottom of the window.
- Most important!!!! Make sure you do not overwrite your Master File! Save the Copy file you created and were making the changes as a working file with a name that indicates the size, the paper printed on and FPI to indicate that this file will be printed at Fine Print Imaging. e.g., “sunset_sailboat_16x20_FAS_FPI.tif” (FAS stands for “Fine Art Smooth”). If you have other naming systems, go for it!
- You now have a Working File that you will submit to Fine Print Imaging for printing.