Monitor & Printer Calibration


Color Management for Better Prints


Lesson Info

Monitor & Printer Calibration

So you all know what the word calibration means. It means setting something to a standard. Three pounds should be three pounds on your scale, and it should be three pounds in Europe, and three pounds at base camp on Mount Everest. 'Kay, it's a standard, it doesn't matter where you are in the world, you want three pounds to be three pounds. Same thing with colors, you want black to be black, and red number five to be red number five anywhere on planet Earth. That's what calibration does, is it runs a sequence of colors across your monitor and it says "Oh yeah, those reds are right on, "and those greens are where they need to be. "Oh, that blue is different." So guess what it does when it finds something that's different than the standard. It changes the package, it changes the translator, it tells the engine to say, "Oh, if that red was here, "or that blue is here, it needs to be there. "So bump it up by two volume clicks." You know, that's what calibration does. It confirms that things...

are good, and it fixes it when things are bad. Brightness, contrast, and color. Three things: brightness, contrast, color. When you calibrate, I recommend that you turn your monitor on for 30 minutes at least before you do the calibration. You want it, you want to heat up, you want the upper left-hand corner to heat up as equal the upper right-hand corner in the middle. So make sure your monitor's warmed up, set a gray background for your desktop, and that isn't necessarily for the calibration purpose. That's just in general. Imagine if your desktop was bright orange. I dunno why you would do that, maybe you're a Climpson fan. So you've got a bright orange across the back of your monitor and that bright orange is projecting all day long. Well, guess what? When you pull up a color photograph of a blue flower, because those phosphors has been shooting out orange photons all day, it's gonna be biased towards the orange color, so having a gray backdrop just means all of your R-G-B is firing equally so that when you bring up colors, immediately the color's consistent where it should be. So I use gray, I use a gray backdrop on my computer. Give it enough time, that those orange pixels will actually fade away, and you'll get a nice blue back or whatever. But in general, I recommend a gray background, and then your should run your calibrations software about once a month, maybe once every two months. LCDs are pretty stable but most of us are doing it about once a month, 'kay? Let me show you how this process works. We're gonna do it on laptop today. In general, I don't recommend that you edit your photos on a laptop, you'll find laptop screens, as good as they are ... and I use a MacBook Pro, it's great, fantastic, awesome, it's still not as good as my nice EIZO, or my nice NEC, or DELL, or HP that I paid a lot of money for. Another thing about laptops is that your really need to ... when you work on them, you need to make sure it's perpendicular to your eyes, 'cause if it's tilted in any way, the colors change and the brightness changes, 'kay? And then one other thing ... you and I were talking about it this morning ... Your windows in the room matter. Close your shades so you don't get these bright reflections on the monitor. All of that's very important. So I use a dedicated monitor. I actually hook it into my MacBook Pro, and that's where I do most of my photo editing. Actually calibrate that monitor independently from the Mac. But I wanna show you now how to actually do a monitor calibration. So I've got two types of calibration tools today. I've got the X-Rite, i1 Display Pro, and then I've got the X-Rite ColorMunki Display. Thank you, X-Rite, for sending these in. They donated this to the cause today so I could show how to use the calibration tools. And I use these, actually, in my own office. I love X-Rite. There are other brands out there, and they do a good job. But, don't pay $30 for your screen calibration unit. You're gonna pay a hundred fifty to two fiftyish for a nice calibration tool. Spyder, I think is one. A couple of you said Spyder, great. I've used Spyder in the past, very happy with them. The difference between these two, this one here, the i1 Display Pro ... The word "Pro" should give it away. This is just more, has more settings that you can adjust in the software. Allows you to calibrate multiple monitors, and change ... you know, figure out calibration on different areas of the monitors so you can make sure that every pixel on the monitor is projecting the right colors. Specifically, you can change the color temperature, and the brightness, and all of this stuff. If you don't want to go through all that rigmarole, but you still want a really good calibration, but you're more the type of people that just want to click it and just let it go, the ColorMunki is the way to go. ColorMunki display basically uses the same technology in the sensor, but it's a much easier, user-friendly interface. So, the one I'm going to show here now is the i1 Display Pro. Okay, so let's go over to the computer. I'll show you this monitor calibration software. When you download the software, you'll see here on the top is the ... You have your i1 Display icon. So we click on that, and then we hot ... We do what's called "launching the i1 profiler". There we go. So I clicked right up there, and then clicked "launch the i1 profile". And I didn't register. I have this thing about registering my stuff, because I always get emails. Sorry manufacturers! (laughs heartily) So now, this is the .... Again, this is the i1 Pro, so this has all the stuff and all of the different settings. You'll see that we've got four options. We can profile a display, a projector- that's cool. So if you're projecting on a wall, you can hold this thing up on the wall and profile that. You can do printer work, uh, not with this unit. And then scanners. So I'm going to do a display. We click on that ... And now there's all of this information that you can read through. I'm not gonna go through all the details here. Look at this graph. Does that look familiar? (chuckles) Kind of like those graphs I was showing earlier. I'm just gonna backtrack just ever so slightly. This is the human visual system, okay? Those are the colors ... RBG ... C cyan, magenta, yellow. So those are all the colors. SRGB is about here. Kay, right in there. Adobe RGB, like that, pro photo RGB, like that. So, that's what I was talking about earlier, great. Couple little steps to make, you need to decide or tell it what type of monitor you're adjusting. So this is a color LCD, and if you know more details about your monitor like, "Oh, I know that I have a plasma or a GB-LED or whatever," most of our little monitors are white LEDs. You're gonna choose D65 for your white point. That stands for 65 hundred kelvin, D65. And then for luminance, an industry standard is (hissing) candelas per square meter. One of the things you're going to notice the first time you do a calibration is your monitor's gonna get darker. And you're like, "I just paid $2,000 for this monitor, "and now it seems really dim." Well guess what, it's dim because you want it to look like your print's gonna look at the very end. So one of the little secrets is once you learn how to use these profiles, is a lot of times when I'm just like, reading email and clicking around the internet, I don't look at my calibrated monitor profile. I use the factory standard, which makes my screen much brighter, and I like that. And then when I start doing photo work in Lightroom and Photoshop, I load the calibration ... profile so it's darker. So use 120, and if you want it a little bit brighter, then you can choose 140 or 180. You can kind of decide how bright your monitor, what your luminance will be. But the standard is 120. So then I click "Next". So now I click "Start measurement". So now it says ... Hey, take the little cap, the little ambient light meter thing off that, so I rotate this, and it says to tilt the screen in a certain way, and it says to put the reading tool right there on the monitor, just like that. I click "OK" ... and then I click "Next". And now what it does, is it starts projecting all the brightnesses and all the colors that are in the ICC standard, the International Color Consortium standard. Oh, there's red five, and red seven, and red nine. Going in, red nine! And then you've got the blues and the greens. So it's doing all the colors. Maybe you've heard of the color checker before? The X-Rite color checker? You know, it kind of has all those standard colors? It has all the brightnesses, from solid black to solid white. You might want to wipe your screen off, unlike me. I'm looking at that going, (students laugh) "Holy Cow! That's a dirty screen." It's a working tool. One of the neat things about this X-Rite ... I'm sorry ... yeah, the i1 Display Pro ... is if you are making prints, like this one, and there's a red in that print that you know that you want to reproduce, you can actually program that into the Pro unit and say, "Always calibrate for this color red." Because maybe you're working for a big, international campaign, and they're like, "This is our red. Don't mess it up." You know, Ferrari red, right? You'd better not mess up Ferrari red. So you calibrate for it. And this unit here allows you to specify colors. Down here you can see it's ... There's less than one minute remaining. This process takes two minutes for the whole cycle to go through, and then when you're done you'll see it puts out a new profile, a new little ICC profile. And that profile's gonna be the working profile that your monitor has been calibrated to. Let's see, while that's going, any quick questions from ya'll about this calibration process? Yeah? (student clearing throat) When um, after you're done calibrating it will ask you, "Do you want it "to read ambient room lighting, leave it on or off?" And I was curious to what your thoughts were about that. Awesome question. I have a love-hate relationship with reading the ambient room lighting. I live in Washington State, and our weather is very unpredictable. And so in any given day, I can go from full overcast to bright sun. And so what she's talking about, is on these little calibration units, there's this little translucent top to them that will read the ambient light. And when the ambient light gets brighter, it makes your screen brighter. And when the ambient light gets darker, it makes your screen darker. Well I've run into problems with that in the past, because I'm like, "Oh, that's too dark." And you know, I just ... So for me, I generally turn that off. And I think X-Rite would be mad at me for saying that, but I like my monitor to be the same brightness all the time, and then I will modify the room if I really want to block out that bright, sunny day that happens twice a year in Washington, then I'll block it out. That's my approach. Your mileage may vary. Okay ... Now, we're done. I have a question. About how often do you calibrate? Like, is it worth ... I mean, could you rent this thing and calibrate it once, and then set it and forget it, or is it like ... you constantly are doing this? Super question. Okay, so, I'm gonna backtrack from that. First thing's first. From the factory, your Mac is probably almost good to go, I mean, really. Yeah, pretty close. The screen technology and the monitor technology, all the color manual- all that stuff is so solid these days, I can literally get a monitor from the Mac store, plug it in, and almost be good to go. This process is gonna take you, like I was joking earlier, it's gonna take you from 98 percent awesome to just a little bit more awesome. Once you get to that point though, you want to maintain that awesomeness, and so I suggest profiling about once a month. Your monitor will slowly shift and degrade over time. I have an EIZO monitor in my office right now, and it's old. I'm gonna say my EIZO is almost ten years old, and I can see visually some color changes on the screen in various locations. You know, been working for me every single day for ten years, so ... I think about once a month is appropriate. You could, like, with some friends buy these, but they kind of have you register this stuff, and it's kind of dedicated to a computer, but I can use this on my laptop and on my desktop within my own office, so I think everyone should own their own. That's my recommendation. Cool. And X-Rite's looking at me right now and saying, "Thank you for saying that." You said the right thing. (male student and Mike laugh) Yeah, I know that's right. Okay, so now we're done with that calibration. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take this off, and I'm gonna rotate it so now the ambient light sensor is on the colorimeter side. And typically, you would set it out on your desk like that, okay? So, you would set it in a location that kinda represents your working environment, and as your environment gets brighter or darker, that will change. Oh, one more thing to answer your question. In my office, I have can lighting. And so if I set that ambient light sensor under a can light, (imitates laser whooshing) the screen goes dark. If I move it over here, (imitates upward, electronic pulsing sound) the screen goes bright. But my monitor hasn't changed, and my physical location hasn't changed, so another reason why I choose to turn that off. Alright, so now I say ambient diffuser is in the correct position, click "Next" to proceed, I hit "Next" ... and now we have ... I can go to the next screen like this, and I can name it. And you should name your ICC profiles, okay? Name it by date. You know, whatever the date is. Today is January 1, 2019. That's my new profile, okay? And then you'll know by its name, "Oh! February 1st, I need to do another one "in March, in April, in June." In this case, I'm just going to call it "Creative Live Printing ... "Studio B... "dot ICC" Profile reminder, you could even have it remind you. So you could say, "Every four weeks, please remind me." And then ambient light monitoring, do you want the ambient light off? I think you and I are sympatico on that, other people are, "Yeah, just keep it on." For me, I'll just keep it off for now. And then, we're gonna say, "Create and save profile." And activate. Did you see that? Did you see how my monitor got a lot darker? I don't know if you picked up on that. Before ... After .... Huh, yeah. Before, after. Huh, now my monitor is ready! So now when I go, and I'm working on this image, I know that that black's gonna be black like it should be. And I know that that hair is gonna show up because I can see it on my monitor, it's the right brightness. And then, from a color perspective, I know when I have these real subtle, these little subtle color transitions, you know, her dress isn't white. No, her dress is ... Come on wedding people, help me out ... some other color than white. Eggshell. What's up? There we go, that's ... there we go, I was looking at it backwards. But you know, you get those subtle cuddle-- subtle color trans- uh, transitions, because you have calibrated properly. Now this screen's the correct brightness, and I'm done. So that was kind of painless. You know, I talked a lot of bloviation going on there, but you get the idea. Calibration's important, and now my monitor is set properly so that what I see on my screen is going to be what I get on my printer. And so now, just because I want to make prints in this class, I'm just going to quickly do a print from here, 'cause this is a printing workshop. This is Photoshop. Oh, interesting. (chuckles) Let's make that bigger. And now what Photoshop's gonna do, it's going to interpolate for me. It's going to make up data. That original photo was a little bit smaller ... I don't think it was technically that small ... But Photoshop in the printing algorithm is actually gonna interpolate it and send it out to the printer. Print settings, just to remind you all what we're doing, Cannon Pro 1,000. We're gonna do color, 17 by 22. Paper is gonna go from the manual feed, and I'm gonna save that. Who is managing the colors? 'Kay, so I do have some slides on this, but I'll show it to you now. So, printer manages colors, meaning I make the decision for the paper, and the printer choices here on the printer. Or Photoshop manages colors. In that case, I can go, "Photoshop manages," and then I can tell it, "Oh, this is a Cannon Pro ..." Well, I guess I don't have my Pro 1, ICC stuff loaded in there, but I can go Pro 1,000 ... Let's pick a paper, huh? Pro luster. Pro luster ... there we go. And then I would click "print". In fact, let me just make a quick print of that, and then I'm gonna show you how to soft proof. (crinkling) So this paper, again, is the 17 by 22. And a lot of times with the bigger papers and the stiffer papers, you wanna load it from the manual tray feed. And the reason why is because it bends it less, and you don't get ink smearing on the surface. I've made a couple prints this week where I've loaded it through the top feed, and I got smeared ink on the front of the print, which was kind of frustrating. So we'll do "Photoshop manages colors" And there's the ... I'm just going to use the Cannon Pro 10 profile for the luster paper. It's similar, it's close enough, it'll probably work. Relative color metric, black point compensation, I'm happy about all of that stuff. 'Kay, I think we're ready to go. I'm gonna make one more quick check here, back in my printer driver. Let's go to ... Uh, there's no color settings here. So, hopefully it's smart enough to know that Photoshop is gonna manage the colors, and it doesn't have to manage the colors. Let's hit "print". Image is larger than the paper's printable area, okay, no problem. And, viola. Okay, we'll let that print, and I'll move on to the next topic on our presentation. (clears throat) You can calibrate printers, right? You've probably heard of this before, where you print out this like, colored target thing, and then you take the calibration tool and you like, stick it literally on the red box, and the green box, and the blue box, and the purple box. You can do that. It takes a little more time, and it's a little more effort, but you'll need a different type of tool. These two tools won't do that. Typically those printer calibration tools are in the $500 range, or more, $1,000 range. I would say, when you wanna get from the 98th percentile to the 99th percentile, well then you calibrate the actual printer itself. I'm not gonna show you how to do that today, I just want to open your eyes to the fact that you can.

Class Description

Knowing how to control and see color is essential in making quality prints. Mike Hagen will walk through the entire color process for getting prints to look the way you envisioned. He'll discuss the techniques for calibrating your monitor, color management and color space.


Cheryl Tarr

I enjoyed watching this. Mike is an engaging instructor. Very clear and easy to follow. I was somewhat familiar with the various color spaces but this solidified my understanding. I now have some 'next steps' to improve my printing, thank you!