03 June 2010

Calibrate and Profile Your Monitor Before Printing

So you have bitten the bullet. You've decided that your crisp new product collection is just too special to be advertised with amateur photography, so you've called in a photographer to help record your products finest visual assets and help enhance your corporate brand image.

The disk arrives and as guessed the photography is flawless! All you need to do now is enhance the images a bit in Adobes Photoshop, FTP them to the printers and then await delivery of your beautiful new brochure.

Your brochure comes back from the printers but all is not Ok! The photography looks nothing like it did on your monitor and now your products are sporting a rather unwanted yellow caste.

This is an really prevalent concern and one I hear customers agonize about on a regular basis. The natural response would seem to be, 'blame the photographer', after all they were the suppliers of the original image files. But in truth it is most likely to one of or a mixture of the following issues:

1. Coarse Image Editing.
Inexperienced or incompetent Photoshop users will often engage in excessive and damaging image manipulation methods that will often result in poor quality printing.

2. Conversion to CYMK.
The image files your photographer provides you with are commonly in a RGB colour space and will need conversion to a relevant CYMK colour profile before printing. The picture files will require careful colour conversion and ideally proofing if exact colour accuracy is needed. Generally a professional designer or pre-production house will carry out this procedure but if executed badly the resulting prints can diverge immensely to what you saw on your screen.

3. Absence of or Insufficient Monitor Calibration and Profiling.
This is the big problem and the one that I suspect produces the most discontentment and problems. If your monitor isn't properly calibrated or indeed you simply use the manufacturers canned factory settings, there is a good possibility that your monitor is deceiving you!

Monitor Calibration is the method of altering your monitors controls to achieve the most neutral display possible, including modifying its luminance (brightness), white point (colour temperature) and gamma settings. If you don't work with photos on a frequent basis or you hire a graphic designer (who understands the importance of strict colour management) to do your pre-press work then you may well choose to simply alter your monitors controls manually, nonetheless remember not to change the image files as what you observe on your screen will be different to what your designer and printer sees! In any case I strongly advise that you invest in some basic monitor calibration apparatus that will come bundled with compatible profile software. You won't have to invest thousands, indeed for the price of a full set of inkjet cartridges you'll be able to buy a basic calibration device, but it will transform your digital workflow and give you the end results you deserve.

These relatively cheap devices will calculate your monitors imperfections and in combination with the software will work out a profile that is unique to your screen. Think of this profile as a 'filter' or 'mask' that once utilized to your screen will eradicate any imperfections and will give you a completely neutral view. This unique profile is then saved to your computers relevant libraries.

In conclusion when working with professional images on a recurring basis then I highly urge you invest in some basic monitor calibration equipment. Why spend good money on getting your photos shot professionally only to subsequently ruin them by editing on an poorly calibrated monitor?

Reference Website: ArticleBase.com