Plunging Headlong into Color

Most artists react very warmly to the word color and a bit more coolly to the word management, especially those of us who have made the mistake of taking on managerial chores ourselves. Put the two words together, however, and you can clear a room. The term color management has been known to cause the sturdiest of characters to shriek and sweat like a herd of elephants locked in a sauna.

It's no exaggeration to say that color management is the least understood topic in all of computer imaging. From my experience talking to Photoshop users, most folks expect to calibrate their monitors and achieve reliable if not perfect color. But in point of fact, there's no such thing. So-called device-dependent color — that is, synthetic color produced by a piece of hardware — is a moving target. The best Photoshop or any other piece of software can do is to convert from one target to the next.

For what it's worth, most consumer monitors (and video boards, for that matter) are beyond calibration, in the strict sense of the word. You can try your hand at using a hardware calibrator — one of those devices where you plop a little suction cup onto your screen. But calibrators often have less to do with changing screen colors than identifying them. Even if your monitor permits prepress-quality calibration — as in the case of $3,000 devices sold by different vendors over the years, including Radius, Mitsubishi, and LaCie — it's not enough to simply correct the colors on screen; you also have to tell Photoshop what you've done.

In This Chapter

Setting up your monitor with the Gamma Wizard

Selecting an RGB working space

Embedding a color profile in a saved image

Converting colors from one working space to another

Using the Color Settings command

Assigning profiles to untagged images

Establishing color management policies

Reacting to and disabling alert messages

Changing the Intent setting

Setting up a custom CMYK space

Transferring CMYK settings from

Therefore, color management is first and foremost about identifying your monitor. You have to explain your screen's foibles to Photoshop so that it can make every attempt to account for them. In the old days, Photoshop used the screen data to calculate CMYK conversions and that was it. Photoshop 5 went two steps farther, embedding a profile that identifies the source of the image and using this information to translate colors from one monitor to another. Photoshop 6 goes a couple of steps farther still, permitting you to work in multiple profile-specific color spaces at the same time — great for artists who alternatively create images for print and the Web — and specify exactly what to do with images that lack profiles.

The new Color Settings command is both wonderful and bewildering. It can just as easily mess up colors as fix them. But if you read this chapter, you and your colors should be able to ride the currents safely from one digital destination to the next. And best of all, color management in Photoshop 6 is consistent with color management found in Illustrator 9 and future Adobe applications. Learn one and the others make a heck of a lot more sense.

Learn Photoshop Now

Learn Photoshop Now

This first volume will guide you through the basics of Photoshop. Well start at the beginning and slowly be working our way through to the more advanced stuff but dont worry its all aimed at the total newbie.

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