Colour Management Basics For Artists and Photographers

What exactly is Colour Management?

Colour Management is essientally a set of processes used to acheive colour consistancy between devices. For aritsts and photographers it can be simplified as ordering and receiving printed materials that are exactly what they expected.The simple goal is to have your monitor accurately display colours so that the final printed artwork you receive is as close as possible to the digital artwork displayed on your monitor. 

To troubleshoot this in its simplest form lets take a look at one of the most common issues encountered by  artists and photographers when ordering reproduction prints. You scan or take a high resolution photograph of the image you want to reproduce. You open it on your own computer and tweak the colours to your liking using photo editing software like photoshop or lightroom. The artwork looks great on your own monitor, the colours are vibrant and sharp. You order the prints and receive the order a week later. The prints looks nothing like what you saw onscreen. They compare the print to their own monitor and the colours seem flat in comparison, there is too much red in the print? What is going on here?
                                                                               Correct Skin Tones  and Contrast            Skin Tones - Too much Red - Incorrect Contrast
                                                                               Picture As it Looks On Your Monitor                        Prints Received

Monitor Calibration 

The issue is monitor calibration. Most monitors will be too bright and contrasted at the general factory settings . Personal changes to these settings (for example bumping up the brightness manually in low light conditions) as time goes on will further compound this leaving the image shown on screen not accurately displaying the colours of your digital artwork. There are a number of steps that can be taken to get more consistant results and monitor calibration is the main one.

Please note that Monitor quality is important when trying to achieve consistent results. The Colour Gamut ( amount of colours) that a €2000 monitor can display will be greater then that of a €200 monitor. Please also note that a budget monitor calibrated correctly will still produce poor quality results.

Monitor Calibration - Novice Method

For those with a lower volume of printing or those who dont require exact colour reproduction .There are a number of ways to optimize your workflow with a few simple tweaks that will dramatically improve your colour reproduction. For more advanced users you can skip to the bottom of the article.

For users with Windows 7

Go to Control Panel and double click on Colour Management icon

Go to the Advanced tab and click on the  Calibrate Display button under display Calibraiton

Follow the steps instructed by the wizard. 


 Colour Management on Control Panel       Colour Management on Control Panel 2 |Strand Framing

                                   Colour Management in Control Panel                                                                             Calibrate Display in Advanced Settings


For users with Mac

Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences. Click Displays, then click colour

Click Calibrate Display. The Assistant/ Wizard will guid you through the process and creats a calibrated colour profile and assigns it to you monitor.


Image result for calibrate display mac


You have now taken the first steps in correcting a colour management workflow. Your monitor now has a custom profile assigned to it and should more accurately display colour. While we would recommend puchasing a calibration device we realize this is not feasible for everybody. This is the first in a series of articles designed to help all our customers more accurately reproduce the amazing colours  they are creating or capturing. 

This is Part 1 in a series of information articles to improve colour consistency for artists and photographers. The next part of the series will be on understanding file formats and colour spaces and how they affect colour reproduction.

Monitor Calibration - Advanced 

There is a number of commercial hardware and software products that can be used for advanced monitor calibrations. For professional photographers printing in bulk or seeking extremely consistent colours we would recommend purchasing calibration devices with the packaged software for exact colour reproduction. For around €200 you can purchase the entry level Spyder4ExpressS4X100 Display Calibration Device where you are guided through the process with the packaged software. For more advanced users X Rite also do a number of packages..



                                                                                                                                               Spyder4ExpressS4X100 Display Calibration Device

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