Calibrate Your Printer and Get the Color You Want

Have you ever been confronted with the problem that the color of the image in print is dramatically different from the look it presents on screen? Confused by this problem? Feel the urge to fix it? You can solve this problem by calibrating your printer and monitor.

Before do the calibration, it would be better to know about why monitor displays and printed output are different. Your monitor uses additive RGB color and printing uses subtractive CMYK color. They reproduce color in different ways. In print, subtle shifts in color, which can’t found in the individual pixels, can be caused by ink layering and overlapping. Those individual pixels make up screen images. Printed images do not possess the same saturation, contrast and range as a monitor, which makes the colors much darker and less vibrant than on screen. What’s more, paper texture and brightness as well have an influence on printed image.

The way to solve this problem is to calibrate your printer and monitor. First, you calibrate your monitor. Make sure that the right printer driver for the printer is used. Controls, which is for finetuning the appearance of color from the printer, can be found within the printer driver. The color appearance depends on your need.

There are generally two ways to calibrate your printer : visual and mechanical. For most users, using generic color profiles or just visual calibration is enough. However, you can also choose a more expensive but accurate way to do this. That is using a hardware device which has the capability of reading the output from your printers to make adjustments.

There are test images. These images has a wide range of tonal values. Make use of these images and your eyes to visually match the print and screen colors. Display and print a test image to compare them. Adjust grayscale and color output.

You can also make use of ICC profiles to insure consistent color in print and on screen. This files contain information about how your device produces color and they are specific to each device. For printers, it would be better to create separate profiles which should be based on various combinations of ink and paper for the reason that this has an influence on the printed material’s appearance. However, for most desktop printing, the stock or default profiles for your printer model are often enough. Color management software can be used to develop custom ICC profiles if you want more precise color management.

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Andrew Lu - Marketing Manager - Shopper+ Networks Canada

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