Let's look at an example. Suppose you're using an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 (my favorite printer) and Exhibition Fiber paper (another favorite). You would start the color-correction process by going to the manufacturer's websitein this case, Epson USA. (If you're outside the U.S., you'll need to find the appropriate site for your country.) On the site, go to the updates for this printer model (see Figure 1) and then look through the ICC profiles provided by the manufacturer (see Figure 2). You need to find the ICC profile that fits this exact combination of paper, printer, and operating system. When you've found the matching profile, you're ready to start downloading the specific files you'll need in order to color-correct this specific setup.
Figure 1 Searching the Epson support page for ICC profiles.
Figure 2 The ICC Profile page for the Epson 3880. Your printer's page may vary.
After the file is finished downloading, unpack it and find the file with the .icc extension. For this technique to work, the ICC profile must be placed in a specific folder on your operating system (see Figure 3):
- Mac: <hard drive>/Library/ColorSync/Profiles
- PC with Windows 7, Vista, or Windows XP: \Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color
Figure 3 ICC Profiles location on a Mac.
Now open an image file in Photoshop. The top of the file will show the name of the file, the bit depth (usually 8 bit or 16 bit), and the current color space. (If you're working in Quick Mask mode, you'll also see that info in the title bar.)
If you've calibrated your monitor, you're ready to simulate how this photo would look when printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer on Exhibition Fiber paper (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 The default view of the image in Photoshop.
Choose View > Proof Setup > Custom to open a dialog box where you can select the specific ICC profile that you're trying to simulate (see Figure 5). Now, I'm sure that there's some rhyme or reason to the ordering in this drop-down list, but you'd be hard-pressed to find it. In general, look toward the bottom of the list for profiles that you've installed on your system. The profile for this example is SP3880 EFP PK 2880 v1.icc.
Figure 5 Customize Proof Condition dialog in Photoshop.
With the profile selected, the top of the title bar will change to show the profile you're using to soft-proof the print (see Figure 6), and you'll probably notice a little color shift in the image. This soft-proof should give you a good approximation of how the image will look when printed, saving you a lot of effort and reprinting to get the look you want. Make changes to the image and settings as you see fit. When it's all set up, choose View > Proof Colors or press Command-Y (PC: Ctrl-Y).
Figure 6 The Proof View window.