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Color Profile Basics

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Lesson Files

Color Management in Mac OS X Book Files > Lessons > Lesson03

Time

This lesson takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Goals

Obtain and install generic profiles for your devices

Determine your printer's native color space

Choose a profile-creation service

Compare profiles from different sources

Print a target file for a company that will create profiles for your printer

Profiles represent the color capabilities of your color-imaging devices. They are used by color management systems and applications to ensure predictable and accurate color reproduction. Therefore, the quality and accuracy of your profiles are crucial. Lesson 1 described what profiles are and what they are made of. In this lesson, we will explore the differences between generic and custom device profiles and look at the options for acquiring both types.

How Profiles Are Created

The process of making device profiles varies from device to device, and with the software you use, but the basic concept—that of device characterization—is the same regardless of the device.

With device characterization, color values from the device are measured with a dedicated instrument such as a colorimeter. Specialized software compares the measured values to the device-independent values of those colors, and stores this in a profile. The idea is to measure a wide range of colors—far more than you may think the device can reproduce—so that the software can determine the gamut of the device.

Creating profiles can range from being quick and painless to being involved and complex. It depends on the type of device being profiled, the tools being used to create the profiles, and your own knowledge level—it helps to understand some color-science terminology. In Lesson 4, we will walk through the characterization process for several types of devices to create custom profiles. But for now, let's focus on understanding and obtaining generic, or canned, profiles, as well as custom profiles created by a third party.

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