Color Management Basics Page 3
July 22, 2011
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Color Management Solutions

To match images from device to device, the primary tool you are going to use is an ICC profile. The ICC or International Color Consortium is an organization of manufacturers that was created to make standards that would define colors across multiple devices and programs. Nearly every device that you own that deals with color capture or reproduction will have its own color profile.
For Cameras, the color profile is coded into the picture and will be digitally transmitted to whatever program you are editing the image with and continue with it as it is printed. This is done automatically and it doesn't require any additional work to find the profile.

For scanners and printers, you will want to find the color profiles which are probably already installed on the computer that you are using them with. These can usually be found in the drivers that come with the device. You can search for them by simply looking for “.icc” in your Windows search bar or in Finder for OSX. This should lead you to all of the ICC profiles on your computer and then its just a matter of finding which one belongs to your printer. If this doesn't work, a quick google search will normally lead you to the promise land of .icc profiles.

finding .icc files

Monitors are a little bit more tricky. Many profiles and recommended settings can be found in the monitor database. This database has a relatively small selection of monitors however and most will have to be calibrated manually.

Color profiles can be created with specific color matching hardware. These devices mechanically measure the colors of monitors and can help you produce your own custom color profiles. These devices can cost anywhere from $25 to $500 depending on how accurate and feature heavy you are looking to get.

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Datacolor DC S3EL100 Spyder 3 Elite
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Pantone COLOR CUE 2.1
Getting the correct profile, whether from the manufacturer or from a device is the first step in managing your color.

Once you have the color profile you want its time to use it along with your imaging software. Programs like GIMP, Photoshop, Illustrator, Publisher, Corel and every other photo editing software available will have a section for color management. Here you can upload your ICC color profile for all of your devices which will standardize them with one another.

gimp color management screen

If you are matching colors on printed materials there are solutions for that as well but they are substantially more expensive. Using similar color matching hardware such as the ones used in monitor calibration, you can find the specific colors on a printed page and reproduce them with a standard such as Pantone Matching System. This is where you may want to get a professional printer to use their Pantone book and color finder (such as the CUE 2.1 pictured above) to find and replicate your printed colors.Matching printed colors is a large part of printing industry and there are many services that can help you get exactly the color you want without having to buy all the equipment yourself. If you are serious about graphic design or logo conformity, this is an area where you really have to decide what level of commitment you want in getting exact colors.

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