Make Fine Art Prints: Understand ICC Profiles
Understanding ICC profiles. So we've gone through this quite a bit, we've talked about these profiles for a long time. I've said International Color Consortium is where the naming comes from. But as I was just saying, that profile is characterizing the image on your monitor then figuring out whatever your printer can reproduce and then how to squeeze that color and those tones so that it looks good on that piece of paper. And basically, it's just translating the color information for your printer. You can actually have the printer do this yourself without an ICC profile and the easy part of printing is that you just pull up the dialog and you say color management is the Canon Pro 1000 Printer will take over that and if you're printing on a glossy Canon paper that this printer knows really well, it might actually do a halfway decent job. If you're printing on a matte paper, it's probably gonna be ripped up and thrown in the trash pretty quickly. It just depends on the difficulty and it ...
depends on the image. The image may or may not have such a difficult time being replicated on that paper. It also depends on the color space you're working in. If you're a wedding photographer and you want all of your prints to look pretty much just like you worked them up on your monitor, I would not send Adobe RGB files to the printer, I would send SRGB files to the printer 'cause that's a smaller color gambit which means that that printer can probably replicate that entire gambit very easily and the color's gonna come out much closer to how you think they should look. This is also why your cameras, even pro DSLRs, come defaulted into SRGB because if you don't have any color management of any kind and you download those pictures, JPEGs, out of your camera, DSLR, mirrorless, whatever it happens to be, Apple iPhone, Nokia, whatever you have, you put it on your monitor which is only showing you SRGB and you don't touch it at all and then you just let the Canon printer or whatever printer you have do the easy color management in the printer, the odds of the colors looking closer to what you think they should look like are much higher than if you are in Pro Photo and then you're squeezing that Pro Photo down to whatever this printer can replicate and then trying to apply that onto paper. So, hopefully that makes sense. These profiles are specific and just to be clear, these profiles, you'll either have to download them from the paper manufacturer or when you get these profiles they are built into the software for your Canon printer for Canon papers. But if you're using Ilford or Hammermill or whatever other paper, third party, then you're going to need to go to their website and download profiles for that specific printer to use to print your images. In rare cases these days, you would have to use the i1 studio that we had yesterday to calibrate the monitor or one of these monitor calibration devices to actually create your own profiles. These days I would say the profiles from most manufacturers are pretty solid. Like, if you download their profiles, they're gonna work pretty well and get you into the ballpark really close in terms of the color. But they are specific to the printer, the ink, and the paper. So that's the critical part. And we'll go through this again, you'll see these same dialog boxes replicated when I start working. Canon has its own printer management software that's a little bit different than Photoshop but that profile that you download is this guy right here and you'll see it's like this crazy name but it's telling me this is a profile for an Epson 3880 which is my printer at home. This PSPPN looks massively confusing. They usually provide a PDF read me document with the profile that tells you what type of paper settings you should make here. So this is saying PSPPN is, I think semigloss paper is what the setting you should use. And this GPGFS13 is Gallerie of Prestige Gold Fibre Silk 2013 or whenever they made the profile. So, there's a lot of stuff that's reading between the lines and reading that read me to figure this all out but there's only a few settings you really need to make to really get you some amazing prints. And you'll see this here in a bit. This is in Photoshop. So again, you get these profiles from the website of your manufacturer. Usually you go to the support page on their websites and you'll probably have to enter your printer brand, then your printer model and it'll just keep narrowing it down to the exact profile. And they may have 50 different papers and then you go down the list and figure out what paper you're using, click on that box, you download your profile, and then you have to import it into your color profile folder in your utilities folder in the library section on a Mac. I don't know where you put it on a PC since I've never worked on PCs but they have directions on where to put it and which folder and the critical thing to know here is if you download profiles and you have Photoshop open and you put it in that folder, you're gonna have to restart Photoshop. 'Cause if you don't restart Photoshop after you've put the profile into the specific folder, it's not gonna show up. And you're again pulling your hair out but little things like that matter. If you need to create your own profiles, this is the i1 profiler from X-rite and basically you print out sheets of all these colors and then you go with your spectrophotometer and you measure them. Your spectrophotometer's the thing, the colorimeter, different names for different types of devices that you calibrate your monitor with like the Color Monkey, the i1 Studio, the Photo Pro 2, which is their latest top end one, will do ICC profiles. I think the Datacolor Spyder5 will also do it as well. I'm not certain on that but look into that. I mean, if you're gonna do this, you're talking some serious work. It's gonna be an hour before you're even, you're gonna make the prints, then you're gonna let them sit for like 10 to 30 minutes minimum because they need to dry because the color changes as they dry a little bit, very tiny amount. And then you use your spectrophotometer and you gotta run over here and it tells you okay, we got that row, onto the next row and you might have a hundred rows to do. So it could take some time. It's definitely manual labor here getting this to work. But it might make your prints look way better on that paper. And this shows you with the Photo Pro 2 from X-rite going over this. I've only done this maybe five or six times in 10 years. That just tells you how good the profiles that manufacturers are making. Typically, the manufacturers are making profiles that are way better than you're gonna be able to make at home because they have the top end devices like the Photo Pro 2 or something even better than that that they're creating these profiles with. So that is a huge can or worms, any questions on that? Go for it, Glenn.
I just have a question on archival prints. Is it the paper that they're talking about, is it the process?
It's the entire thing. It depends on what ink you're using and what paper. So some papers are more archival than others. Typically, Baryta style papers and some of the finer papers don't last as long typically as the glossier papers do. I mean, what these papers are, often, it depends on the chemicals and how they've made the paper because like this Canon semigloss, I'm guessing, it's got a paper back and then it's got a plastic coating applied to the front of this paper that the ink is then sitting on top of. And if there's optical brighteners put into that plastic coating to make it brighter white, those typically don't last as long as papers that don't use optical brighteners. If you're using a matte paper there's usually not any optical brighteners on the paper, sometimes there are but rarely, and so they're just sitting into the paper. And that ink is spreading more on the matte paper than it is on this glossy paper. And we'll get into that with sharpening here in a bit.