The Color management Basics

Color management:

This tutorial will be written from the perspective of the artist. Photographer or other.

Essentially what an artis does is communicate a creative idea via a variety of mediums. In the visual arts a great deal of the image will be created using color or grey scales. (I dont mean to undervalue the other important aspecst such as texture, context, shape, design, etc.) but accurate color, hue, and tone,are the the givens that we may all take for granted. I.e. Where will your work be viewed? Light temp makes a big difference in how it will look. Will it be in direct light or indirect light? How bright will the light be? Etc… You get the point.

When you enter into the world of digital minipulation – You are now converting all of your colors to numbers. So the colors that you saw when you created your image — were there — but can they be reproduced.

Gamut: A term outside the scope of this tut but a concept worth understanding. Essentially it is a range of colors. There are defined gamuts (color ranges) in the digital world… Some are small and some are big. But not all can be reproduced in print. Regarding the conversion of visual images into digital formats… scientifically, this is not a problem because the technology exists to give you a number to reproduce and almost any color you may choose.

OK enough about the importance of color. Lest talk about color management As an artist there are a few basic concepts you MUST be aware of. Here it is in a nut shell… Your pc thinks of all colors as numbers. Here is the second most important thing, your computer thinks of colors as numbers.

2. Calibrate your monitor
3. Calibrate your printer.

1. If you scan in an image, the colors are converted to numbers
2. When you view an image on your monitor, your monitor is showing you representations of numbers that your computer is telling it to display.
3. When you print an image, your computer sends numbers to the printer and those numbers are supposed to represent some color.

So… What is color management? Basically… It is assuring that all of your devices are speaking the same language. For example lets take a shade of very bright green. In the world of RGB (Red, Green, Blue) 0/240/0 is a very very bright shade of pure light green.

** In photoshop the shades of red, green, and, blue are represented in values between 0 and 255, 0 is pure darkness and 255 is pure brightess. So when you have equal amounts of Red Green and Blue you get a shade of grey. i.e. Pure white would be a value of 255/255/255 and pure black would be 0/0/0. a mid grey would be 127/127/127. (note the format is red/green/blue) So 0/127/0 would be a pure mid green. I do not work with cmyk so please forgive my igonorance.

From the discussion above you get a since of how the number system works. Now it is important for you to consider this in your work flow. You have to realize that if any of your devices are out of calibration you WILL get bad color. So any adjustments that you make will cause serious inconsistancies in your work. It is even possible that you may be sharing a digital image that appears perfect to you but looks like complete trash to someone elese!!!

With all this said… What can you do to mange your color?

1st Calibrate your monitor. This is one of the most improtant things PERIOD. You must make sure that your monitor reflects accurate color. I may write a tut on this… if you want one let me know and I will prioritize based on feed back.

How do you do this? There are a number of ways. Unfortuanatlly, this is one of those situation where you get what you pay for.

1. You can use software methods. Most PC’s come with some type of software that will allow you to make adjustment. Like Adobe Gama. Or there are websites that have software programs that will help you to do a crude adjustment. Next, are the colorimeters. These are hardware devices that you put infront of your screen and along with software, they measur the color your monitor displays based on what the computer is sending. These are far better then most software based methods. In the US you can get colorimeters ranging from 75 -350 USD. I have read reviews saying that just using the $75 model makes a huge difference! And I have also read reviews that says using one of the top end models vs a$75 model is like going from an uncalibrated monitor to perfect. So the more you spend…. The more you will get!!

True story — I waisted about $200 in ink and paper trying to make prints. All of my prints came out oversaturated and dark… why? Because I was using an LCD monitor with an inaccurate white point. I was adjusting my images to look good on the screen but when I printed images they printed WAY too dark. I wonder what others saw when I shared the images on a several of these types of forums?? Probably very dark images. Solution: Calibrate my monitor! (The sad part is that I never did print a good image!)

2. The printer. Well, I am not emplying that anyone use their imigiantion. But lets examine the world of printer manufacturers. It is no secret that the essentially give us the printers for free. They want us to make prints… This means we will buy paper and Ink. No doubt, this is were they make their money… Paper and INK. I wont harp on this point.

The key to making excellent prints the first time is — good color management. First get the monitor calibrated (Untill that happens – printing is just guess work) Now what you want is a print that looks like the image you created on your monitor.

NOTE: In order to manage color you need to understand how your software editing program and printer dirver manage color. Many programs try to override your adjustments. Especially printer dirvers.

Ok manging your printer color. Not to belabor the point here but everyone must accept realty here. INKS, Paper, and printers all introduce variables that effect your prints. (printer and software drivers do too)

OK… Here is where the problem is. And I assure you that if you are not managing your colors… there is a problem!!

To recap: Devices that either collect or display colors recieve numbers from the computer that tell it what colors to display. This also includes the all important definition of what is black and what is white.

First the scan ( I dont scan many images as I am a photographer, so I am not an expert on this topic. but it is the oppisite of printing. Numbers are coming in rather then going out so i belive the concepts are similar.)

The Monitor:

The Printer:

Other stuff I dont know about: It exists and if you are willing to teach me — I am teachable!! lol
minipulation – You are now converting all of your colors to numbers. So the colors that you saw when you created your image — were there — but can they be reproduced.

Gamut: A term outside the scope of this tut but a concept worth understanding. Essentially it is a range of colors. There are defined gamuts in the digital world… Some are small and some are big. But not all can be reproduced in print. Regarding the conversion of visual images into digital formats… scientifically, this is not a problem because the technology exists to give you a number to reproduce and almost any color you may choose.

OK enough about the importance of color. Lest talk about color management As an artist there are a few basic concepts you MUST be aware of. Here it is in a nut shell… Your pc thinks of all colors as numbers. Here is the second most important thing, your computer thinks of colors as numbers.

1. If you scan in an image, the colors are converted to numbers
2. When you view an image on your monitor, your monitor is showing you representaions of numbers that your computer is telling it to display.
3. When you print an image, your computer sends nubmers to the printer and those numbers are supposed to represent some color.

So… What is color management. Basically… It is assuring that all of your devices are speaking the same language. For example lets take a shade of very bright green. In the world of RGB (Red, Green, Blue) 0/240/0 is a very very bright shade of pure light green.

** In photoshop the shades of red, green, and, blue are represented in values between 0 and 255, 0 is pure darkness and 255 is pure brightess. So when you have equal amounts of Red Green and Blue you get a shade of grey. i.e. Pure white would be a value of 255/255/255 and pure black would be 0/0/0. a mid grey would be 127/127/127. (note the format is red/green/blue) So 0/127/0 would be a pure mid green. I do not work with cmyk so please forgive my igonorance.

From the discussion above you get a since of how the number system works. Now it is important for you to consider this in your work flow. You have to realize that if any of your devices are out of calibration you WILL get bad color. So any adjustments that you make will cause serious inconsistancies in your work. It is even possible that you may be sharing a digital image that appears perfect to you but looks like complete trash to someone elese!!!

With all this said… What can you do to mange your color?

1st Calibrate your monitor. This is one of the most improtant things PERIOD. You must make sure that your monitor reflects accurate color. I may write a tut on this… if you want one let me know and I will prioritize based on feed back.

How do you do this? There are a number of ways. Unfortuanatlly, this is one of those situation where you get what you pay for.
1. You can use software methods. Most PC’s come with some type of software that will allow you to make adjustment. Like Adobe Gama. Or there are websites that have software programs that will help you to do a crude adjustment. Next, are the colorimeters. These are hardware devices that you put infront of your screen and along with software, they measur the color your monitor displays based on what the computer is sending. These are far better then most software based methods. In the US you can get colorimeters ranging from 75 -350 USD. I have read reviews saying that just using the $75 model makes a huge difference! And I have also read reviews that says using one of the top end models vs a$75 model is like going from an uncalibrated monitor to perfect. So the more you spend…. The more you will get!!

True story — I waisted about $200 in ink and paper trying to make prints. All of my prints came out oversaturated and dark… why? Because I was using an LCD monitor with an inaccurate white point. I was adjusting my images to look good on the screen but when I printed images they printed WAY too dark. I wonder what others saw when I shared the images on a several of these types of forums?? Probably very dark images. Solution: Calibrate my monitor! (The sad part is that I never did print a good image!)

2. The printer. Well, I am not emplying that anyone use their imigiantion. But lets examine the world of printer manufacturers. It is no secret that the essentially give us the printers for free. They want us to make prints… This means we will buy paper and Ink. No doubt, this is were they make their money… Paper and INK. I wont harp on this point.

The key to making excellent prints the first time is — good color management. First get the monitor calibrated (Untill that happens – printing is just guess work) Now what you want is a print that looks like the image you created on your monitor.

NOTE: In order to manage color you need to understand how your software editing program and printer dirver manage color. Many programs try to override your adjustments. Especially printer dirvers.

Ok manging your printer color. Not to belabor the point here but everyone must accept realty here. INKS, Paper, and printers all introduce variables that effect your prints. (printer and software drivers do too)

OK… Here is where the problem is. And I assure you that if you are not managing your colors… there is a problem!!

To recap: Devices that either collect or display colors recieve numbers from the computer that tell it what colors to display. This also includes the all important definition of what is black and what is white.

First the scan ( I dont scan many images as I am a photographer, so I am not an expert on this topic. but it is the oppisite of printing. Numbers are coming in rather then going out so i belive the concepts are similar.)

The Monitor:

The Printer:

Other stuff I dont know about: It exists and if you are willing to teach me — I am teachable!! lol

OOOPS gtg… Ill clean this up and finish the section of printes later. GTG But remeber the printer must be calibrated. Just like the monitor.