ICC Soft Proofing & Gamut Warnings for Calibrated Monitors
Have you ever received a photographic or fine art print and noticed that the colors seem less saturated versus the image on your calibrated monitor? Have you ever experienced color shifts? These mild but noticeable differences can usually be confined to one source: color gamut. Fortunately there are many tools and in-depth educational resources available across the internet on this very subject. In this blog post we’ve condensed most of this information to be printing specific. You shouldn’t have to stress over how your prints will look after spending all of that time shooting and processing. We’re quickly going to cover the basics of why color shifts can occur in printing, how to preview gamut warnings, and how and when to soft proof.
Gamut: In color reproduction, including computer graphics and photography, the gamut, or color gamut, is a certain complete subset of colors. The most common usage refers to the subset of colors which can be accurately represented in a given circumstance, such as within a given color space or by a certain output device. Continue here…
Why the difference?
Certain papers have specific color ranges and any color that falls within this range can be reproduced accurately. If a color falls outside of this range, it means that the color is ‘out of gamut’ and it doesn’t exist in that particular color space. IS THIS NORMAL? Yes. Adobe RGB has more printable colors versus sRGB, and CMYK has even less than sRGB. Generally we don’t see many color shifting issues but it CAN happen. For example, if you have a high amount of saturation in your image this can push some colors out of gamut.
Example Image (right)
The gray areas in this image show colors that are out of gamut (they don’t exist within this papers color range). *This doesn’t mean that they will print gray, this is only the gamut warning preview. If this image were to be printed as is, the colors that are out of gamut will be different than the original file. What actually happens when our printers encounter this is, the next closest printable color is selected to print in place of the non-existent color.
Soft Proofing & How it Works
Our ICC Soft Proofing Profiles allow you to preview the printable colors and check for any gamut warnings so you can make adjustments if need be.
*Note: our ICC Soft Proofing Profiles are available to give you an accurate preview of how the colors in your image will be reproduced by our printers on that particular paper. These are for calibrated monitors ONLY. Our printers are calibrated multiple times daily to ensure that our numbers stay consistent. It is imperative that your monitor matches our calibration specs to receive an accurate preview when using our ICC Soft Proofing Profiles. We recommend the X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibration device and these calibration numbers.
Tips and Recommendations
How to get the best printing preview for color and avoid color shifting surprises: 1) Calibrate your monitor to your labs numbers: your monitor should be freshly calibrated at least every 2-3 weeks. 2) Pick a color space and stick to it: i.e. Adobe 1998 or sRGB. 3) Soft proof your images (optional): It isn’t necessary to soft proof every single image before printing, but if you’re concerned with how a particular color will print you may want to try soft proofing.
Try to avoid overly saturating your colors. As an example, if you see a color that is so saturated that it looks like you’ve lost some detail- this is something you’ll want to double check with our ICC Soft Proofing Profiles. If your gamut warning shows you any gray areas we recommend you try: 1) Decreasing your overall saturation until the gray is mild or until it disappears, and/or 2) Select only the areas that are gray and subtly decrease the saturation in these colors.