Skip to main content

Soft Proofing an Image in Photoshop

Lesson 29 from: From Capture to Print

Rocco Ancora

Soft Proofing an Image in Photoshop

Lesson 29 from: From Capture to Print

Rocco Ancora

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

29. Soft Proofing an Image in Photoshop


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Advantages & Pitfalls of Printing


Demystifying Color Management


Understanding Bit Depth


Best Color Space to Work In


Importance of Image Capture


Live Shoot: Natural Light


Live Shoot: Studio Lights


Lesson Info

Soft Proofing an Image in Photoshop

Before we actually print, okay? There's a thing we need to do to see how how the printing in combination and how the profile is gonna work together. And there's a thing called Soft Proofing, okay? Soft Proofing. Right, now, Soft Proofing, we're going to Filter, sorry, in View, Proof Setup, we're going to Custom and what we're gonna do is we're gonna bring up what device to simulate. So basically, we're gonna simulate, in this scenario, the paper that we're printing on, so it is the platine on the... The P800. It's in here somewhere. Too many profiles. There we go, platine, p800 platine, there it is. And then we're gonna be looking at something called Rendering Intent. Now, you've got a choice of Perceptual, Saturation, Relative Colorimetric. The only two we really use is Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric. And what does Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric means? Well, it really deals with colors that are gonna be at a gamut and how those colors are gonna be brought back into gamut on...

the paper. It's only really gonna apply to, I suppose, to a monochromatic image, but imagine you have colors that are more than what the paper can actually print, okay? So in color images, you would do this. So if I choose Perceptual Rendering Intent, those out of gamut colors will be brought into gamut and the relationship between adjacent colors will be preserved. It's like a piano accordion, okay? You can stretch it and you can bring it together, but there's still a relationship, you know? And the same relationship, the same distance is basically kept and those colors are just brought in to make fit within the paper. Relative Colorimetric, what it does is those colors that are way out there, above and beyond the gamut of the paper, right? They're brought in as close as possible to the line and they put in as close as possible to any adjacent colors. So what happens is if you have really, really strong saturated colors and you would use, say, a Relative Colorimetric Rendering Intent and those saturated color areas have detail, you could risk loss of detail because it's just cramming that color in, okay? Conceptually, though, and this is why it's called perceptual, it's gonna give us the perception of those colors as still photographically beautifully spaced out. So perceptual for me is a much more beautiful rendering intent than Relative Colorimetric and I use that probably 90% of the time. So if I hit preview, okay? We can see that the image is slightly changing from the screen to the paper, okay? Because it's telling me with Black Point Compensation ticked, I can see how the paper is behaving and how the paper is going to interpret the tones, okay? Now, if I want to... If I hit to simulate paper color, okay? It's going to give me, you know, the true representation of, you know... The lower contrast appearance of the paper... Of the paper itself. But when you do that and you wanna analyze the image, what I would do is... I'm just gonna hit OK, so that simulates paper, I would go really close and see what's happening to shadow areas and so on and so forth. Now, once you get your profile done, okay? Once you get your profile done, there is a test I suggest that you print out. And this is the black and white point printer test, okay? The black and white point printer test. What this does... And I'm just gonna put this under the light. We're gonna look at the top one first. What this does is basically you grab this file which is gonna be on the course download. You grab this file, put it into Photoshop, and you print using the profile as you would normally print the photograph, okay? What this does is gonna tell you where, at what point the shadow detail is gonna come in, okay? In this particular instance, for this particular paper, I've got shadow detail coming in at around 12, okay? So anything that's lower than 12, like a very dark, moody image without any adjustments, it's not going to print, okay? So we can change that, okay? So 12 and the highlight point is probably at around 254 and 255 being the base of the paper, okay? So how do we make the tonality of an image fit in with this? Okay, so let's go back into Photoshop. So once you've done that and you know where your black point is and where your white point is... You're gonna switch proofing off. View, Proof Setup to make sure that it's off. Proof Colors, no, we don't need that, okay? What we do is we get at Levels. Okay? Here they are. And if I hit the alt key on the keyboard, okay? And hit onto the black point and start moving across, I can see that, for this particular image, okay? My black point, the deepest black point is gonna be at around a level of two, okay? So if I was to print this on that particular stock of paper from zero to 12, I'm not getting any detail. So all these areas here are gonna be as moody as... So what does that mean? Does that mean we just choose another paper that can handle that? Absolutely not. What we do is we change the black point of this and in the output levels, okay? Remember 12 is where the detail was coming in, so I'm gonna move this the Output Level to 12 or 10, okay? So now, if I was to merge down, okay? And do another levels adjustment, I will look at what's happening to my black point. My black point now comes in at... 12. Okay? So the imaging on the screen is gonna appear to be lower in contrast, but that's fine, okay? When we print it, it's gonna make a huge difference. So let's have a look... Let's have a look at the bottom of this ramp once the adjustment has been applied. We've gone from detail coming in at around 12, to detail now coming in at around two. Okay? So that is how we start to get art prints, okay? With shadow details and we start to happening the shadows. Because the paper has limitations because of the way the ink is being absorbed into this denser area mean more ink, yeah? More ink is being applied to those areas. So you get that effect of, you know, the perception of loss of detail, even though we're getting that nice, beautiful black. We're going to Levels, we move that point up, up a little bit more to whatever the printer tells us it is and we would do the same with out white point and we're done. Very simple. Now, with coated stocks of paper, like the platine, that black point really sits at around two anyway, so we wouldn't make this adjustment for that type of paper. Okay? So that is the mystery of printing solved in one simple lesson. Okay. So how we do get this image now from here into the printer? Okay. Very simple. ApplePi, that's it. (laughs) I wish it was that simple. We're gonna go into File and we're gonna go into File Print, okay? This is how we print out of Photoshop, okay? The first thing we do is we select our printer, okay? The other thing that we do is we hit this thing here, Photoshop Manages Color. And because Photoshop is managing the color, we need to call up our printer profile, okay? So p800 platine and this, mind you, what I'm printing with is for this particular printer is just the... The profile that comes with this paper off the website, okay? So I'm gonna show you just how good these profiles are. So if you're wanting to get into printing, don't be scared about what the manufacturer produces, 'cause they are really, really, really, really good profiles to being with, anyway, okay? So we're gonna call up that. Now, this image is in 16-bit, so I'm gonna put 16-bit Data, I'm gonna click it, okay? My Rendering Intent's gonna be Perceptual, but we're not quite done, okay? We're gonna go into Print Settings and we have to specify, first and foremost, the paper size. The paper size, in this case, is gonna be... What is it? 13 by 19, so there it is, up the very top. Now, this printer also can take roll, this is why all these options have come up. Roll paper up to 17 inches wide, but we're not printing with roll today, we're printing with sheet, 13 by 19. Then down here, we go into Print Settings, so this is the printer drive now coming into play. We're gonna go into Print Settings and the first thing we need to do is the paper source is gonna be coming from the sheet feeder up top, so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna put the paper in. This is the exciting part, we're finally coming to... You know? Almost the end of the road, but not quite. And what I do with these, I always give them a little shake because if there's any lint or anything on them, okay? Because of the electrostatic as you pull them out of the packet will stick on and then you're gonna have all sorts of problems with that coming off so paper goes on top. And I do normally treat the paper, especially coated papers like this with cotton gloves, so that I'm not getting any of my nasty greasy hands from lunch all over the paper. So the paper's in there, the sheet feeder is set, okay? Then what we need to do is call up the paper or the ink loads of the paper with the media type if you like, that's how the printer understands it and it's gonna be Premium Photo... Where are we? Photo Paper, Premium Luster. Premium Luster Paper, that's the one, I think that's the one for this paper. Gloss. Yeah, Ultra Premium Luster. Output Resolution 2880, okay? I'm gonna leave high speed and finest detail on and I'm gonna hit save. Yep, Normal Printing, Perceptual. Then what we do is we take a deep breath and we hit print. And hopefully, the gods are on our side and we're gonna get an incredible result. It's making all the right noises, this is gonna take several minutes to print, so I think it's probably time for some questions, Drew. Yeah. I have a question here, a couple of questions in the front row here, I'll ask while they're getting their mics ready, Jamie asks, "Can you comment on printing on canvas and aluminum?" Yeah, absolutely. Printing to canvas, there's different types of canvases. There are canvases that have been already coated with an emulsion which gives that appearance that the canvas has already had a coating put on it afterwards and stretched. Or there's cotton canvases which are quite organic and can be quite archival. But canvases really... The only way you can print on canvas is on roll, manufacturers make canvas rolls and they're ranged from, you know, 24 inches to 44 inches. I would personally go for a canvas that doesn't have a coating with OBI in it, if you're thinking about archival. Okay? So be very careful as to what you're printing on. Because even if you're printing on the cotton stuff, then you need to coat it with some sort of coating and Hahnemuehle makes a coating for that particular... For canvases and stuff, but it has to be rolled on, it needs quite a process. But some of the coated stocks are very, very good and they will achieve really, really good results. Printing on aluminum, on metals and stuff, it's not something really that you're gonna do on printers like this, it's not an archival process because you need probably dye prints, dye inks to actually print on that. But there are specialized printing places that would do that, but it's something I've personally never experienced, it's not something that we do, we just strictly stick to the fine art stuff, stuff that you can bend and it doesn't hurt you if you trow it at someone. (audience laughs) So Rocco, when you soft proof your photo for a specific paper, and in this situation it was black and white, but when you do it for a color photo, what do you do when your colors fall outside the gamut of the paper? Okay, and you go into gamut warning? Mm-hmm. (affirmative). Yeah? What you do is you take the particular color that's at a gamut and you're going to Hue and Saturation and you can alter the saturation of that color and bring it down, so that it does fit into the gamut of the paper because sometimes colors can be way off, okay? Really, really way off and you need to be able to contain them and bring them back, you know? So, we'll... Actually, I'll open up an image after this with gamut warning which is an image of red leaves. We'll open it up in Photoshop and we'll see how we deal with that, but it's a very, very good questions. Any more, Drew? I have one. I've had problems with mages printing out too dark. Yeah. Is that more of an issue? Or when would you worry about a monitor setting from like 120 to versus what you just showed with the levels? Yeah, if your images are printing out too dark, your screen's too bright. So your screen needs to come down, okay? So what I would do is I would recalibrate using a lot of brightness level. So what are you at now? 120? 120. 120, come down to 100, okay? Recalibrate and then compare the print to your screen in good lighting to make that assessment and see how that is working out, okay? And then, depending on the monitor, again, if you've got something like this, high-end monitor you can come down to 80 and still see that beautiful detail in the shadows, that would the ultimate, I think. So... Yeah. Is there a rule of thumb for how large of a print you can make from a certain size image file, such as how large a clear print on canvas would be from like a Canon 60? So that's pretty specific, but is there a general... Yeah, I'm not sure what the pixel count is for a 60D megapixel Canon, but generally, you've got to look at number one, when you're interpellating the image to a large size, look at it at 100% on the screen and have a look how much the image has deteriorated and how much information has been made. Then, from that point, sharpening, is that gonna really improve the image or not? If the image is really suffering and you're viewing it from a fairly close distance, well then you know you need to come down in size. So it's really a visual, you know... It's a visual assessment, if you like, of what can be done and what can't be done and how big can you go, but the 60, I'm assuming... Does anyone know the resolution of the 60? I just looked, it's 20. 20 megapixels? Yeah. You could easily do 30, 40 out of 30, 40 inch out of that. Cool. Yeah, provided that you've shot it sharp and it's well exposed and well edited and well sharpened. Yeah, definitely, yeah. Cool. Roberto. There's also a myth about when do you size the photograph? Do you do it in a Photoshop? Do you do it once you put in on the printer settings? You know, you can choose like 16 by 20 on Photoshop or you can say to the printer once it's on the printer's... The driver, you could say it's 16 by 20. And the printer driver will interpellate it to pixels. People say to especially do it in Photoshop itself before you take it out. But what do you think is the difference in doing the two? And is it really noticeable? For me personally, if I was gonna go straight out of the Epson driver, I would never resize in the Epson driver, okay? But I would resize in software like Mirage, which is a RIP, which we'll have a look in a minute which bypasses Photoshop, where I could just load in there my file at its native resolution, okay? And then size it and scale it accordingly, 'cause the algorithms in there do a really, really good job. Alternatively, even light room does a really good job in sizing images, so if we're printing at a light room, okay? And then, of course, you'll printing through the Canon... What's the Canon interface on yours? Print Studio Pro. Print Studio Pro, which does exactly the same thing, you could size in there. Although, I don't know really the results what you're getting out of there, but do your own tests, as to what... You know, what works, if you do see any changes. Certainly, I'm sort of the... I've done a lot of resizing through Mirage, I've gone from a normal print to massive prints and it's done an amazing, amazing job out of sizing the image. The only problem with doing it what way is adding sharpening okay? And because that software isn't gonna add sharpening for me. So what I do is I like to size it in Photoshop, sharpen it accordingly and then output it so I can control that level of sharpening to the nth degree. Okay, so we've got our print that I just damaged. It's so awesome. But let's have a look at it under light. And there it is. There's the print. So we can come up close and see the beautiful detail, forgetting about the dent that I just put in the print. Okay? So we've got nice, beautiful transition of tone, we've got that photographic toning that we did earlier. We've got highlights, we've got shadows, we've got beautiful details through the blacks right across there, even through here. So I'm really, really, really happy with the results. So, you know, working in a calibrated system through the printer, through the profile, through the final output has given us the ultimate results of going from capture to final print. And that is, in a nutshell, how we print out of Photoshop. So it's pretty simple. And once those parameters are fixed, then you're getting used to printing in a particular paper style, it's very easy to repeats the result over and over again, provided that your variables don't change. Rocco, so this one is... I think there's some very slight colors, but primarily it's a black and white photo, right? Do you... There is a tone on it, there is a slightly warmish kind of tone to it. Would you ever use that black and white feature from Epson driver? Or would you... Even the black and white photo with it because you tone it? You will still print it through a colored dialog. You could use the black and white which just utilizes the black inks, except then you're just left with levels of gray once again okay? For me, black and whites, going back to what I used to do in the dark room, always had some sort of toning to them, I love just a slight warm tone through to my black and whites, and that's why I do them that way and I print them through my profile and get results like this, okay? But you can use that, you know, through the Epson driver certainly and print it in black and white mode, except then it's pretty hard to control through the profile because some of the profile controlling it, it's the driver itself interpreting the dots and creating a gray scale version of your images, but yeah, certainly. It will definitely give you a very clean black and white with no color whatsoever, because it's using the black and obviously the light light black and the white of the paper to create that continuous tones of the black and white, okay? Maybe one more question. How would this, the sharpening methods, particularly apply to landscapes? It's exactly the same way. Okay. Exactly the same way. It's visual, depending on how big you're gonna be printing your landscape, okay? So you have your master file that you worked and you might have done some selecting sharpening here and there. You would size the file exactly the same way and then you would visually make an assessment as to what looks good, okay? And sometimes, you know, it comes down to experience, stuff that you've done, you know where to push visually, what... You make the connection of what amount of sharpening looks like what on a particular sheet of paper, on a particular stock of paper, I should say.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Rocco's Photoshop Actions
Rocco's Printer Evaluation Files
Color & Luminosity Seperation Action

Ratings and Reviews

Roberto Valenzuela

I honestly consider many courses to be great, but optional. However, this course by Rocco Ancora is a MUST! It helps the photographer complete the circle of being a photographic artist. Our job doesn't end at the edit, it ends with the print. When your clients can hold and enjoy your creative vision physically, that is when the magic of being a photographer happens. I have been so fortunate to travel the world teaching and meeting some of the best photographers in the world. That being said, I can say with confidence that nobody can teach this combination of Photoshop retouching / fine-art printing better than Rocco Ancora. I believe in this class so much, I traveled to Seattle to attend this course to be part of the live studio audience. I have never done that before. But that's how important I consider this material to be. I am so happy I took the time to go and learn from the man himself. Now, I will get this course to watch it, dissect it, study it, and practice it. Very excited to see how the knowledge in this course will propel my career further. --Roberto Valenzuela

a Creativelive Student

I was fortunate enough to attend this class in person and got to experience Rocco's prints in person. The quality is absolutely breathtaking and a game changer, Learning these skills will really help my business in a number of ways. In the past, I have had a difficult time convincing clients to purchase typical lab prints through my studio, as opposed to buying them through Walmart or Costco where the quality was "close enough." Rocco's method that he shared in this class creates three dimensional images of unmatched quality and images that just jump off the page. The knowledge from this course will empower me to help run a sustainable business and thrive as a photographer. You would be foolish to not learn these methods and incorporate them into your business. Highly Recommend!!

April S.

I have invested time into learning Lightroom and Photoshop, my own gear, and my particular photographic style, but the one thing I am really lacking is a solid understanding about preparing an image for print, and the various print options (e.g., paper types). When I saw this course come up on the CL schedule it caught my eye immediately so I RSVP'd for the live broadcast. I was at work when it started and couldn't watch at that time. I do listen in from work sometimes, but after 2 minutes of listening to this course I realized it was one I really needed to watch closely and focus on. So, I stopped the stream after a couple minutes and bought the course. I have never done that before. I always wait and watch as much as I can in the initial broadcast (or rebroadcast) to decide if a course is one that I really should spend for. I knew right away though that Rocco was presenting the very information I was lacking and needed, and I wanted it! In addition, it was clear to me after looking him up online that he's a consummate professional with lots of experience and his delivery style even in just the couple of minutes that I listened reflected that. I already have X-rite ColorMunki Display and Colorchecker, a good monitor, and I have a photo printer (Canon Pixma Pro-100) but I'm lacking that technical understanding of color and know I'm not using my resources to their fullest. I use my Canon Pixma to test-print images before uploading to the print service I use. My method isn't ideal since the service uses different printers and ink, and paper depending on what I choose, but at least I have a much better idea of what my image file will give me in print form. After Rocco's course I believe I will be much better equipped to prepare my images and choose the options best suited to each image. I'll still test print if only because it's fun to see something on paper, but I expect the results I get from the print service to be much better once I really know how to put this knowledge to work for me.

Student Work