Getting Pro-Quality Prints That Match Your Screen
When you buy a color inkjet printer and install the printer driver that comes with it, it basically lets Elements know what kind of printer is being used, and that’s about it. But to get pro-quality results, you need a profile for your printer based on the exact type of paper you’ll be printing on. Most inkjet paper manufacturers now create custom profiles for their papers, and you can usually download them free from their websites. Does this really make that big a difference? Ask any pro. Here’s how to find and install your custom profiles:
Your first step is to go to the website of the company that makes the paper you’re going to be printing on and search for their downloadable color profiles for your printer. I use the term “search” because they’re usually not in a really obvious place. I use a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer and I generally print on Canon paper. When I installed the PRO-1000’s printer driver, I was tickled to find that it also installed custom color profiles for all Canon papers, but some printers don’t. So, if I needed to download them, the first stop would be Canon’s website, where you’d click on the Drivers & Downloads link (as shown here). Note: Even if you’re not a Canon user, still follow along (you’ll see why).
Once you get to the support page, enter your printer model name/number, then click the Go button.
On the Drivers & Downloads page, click on the Software tab, then click on the Select button for imagePROGRAF PRO- 1000 series ICC Profile for Supporting the Other Companies’ Media (Windows), then click on Download. After they download onto your computer, just Right-click on the profile(s) for the paper(s) you use, choose Install Profile, and they’re added to your list of profiles in Elements (I’ll show how to choose them in the Print dialog a little later). On a Mac, go to your hard disk, in your Library folder, and in your ColorSync folder, to the Profiles folder. Just drag the file in there and you’re set. You don’t even have to restart Elements—it automatically updates. That’s it—you download them, install them, and they’ll be waiting for you in Elements’ print dialog. Easy enough. But what if you’re not using Canon paper? Or if you have a different printer, like an Epson or an HP?
We’ll tackle the different paper issue first (because they’re tied together). Say I wanted to print from my PRO-1000 using a different brand of paper other than Canon. For example, say I wanted to use Red River Paper’s UltraPro Satin instead. So, even though I’m printing on a Canon printer, now I’d go to Red River Paper’s site (www.redriverpaper.com) to find their color profiles for my PRO-1000. (Remember, profiles come from the company that makes the paper.) On the Red River Paper homepage, click on the Color Profiles link under Helpful Info on the left side of the page.
Under the section named Canon Pro Printers, there’s a direct link to the ICC profiles for the PRO-1000 (as seen here), but did you also notice that there are ICC Color profiles for Epson and HP printers? The process is the same for other printers, but although HP and Canon now both make pro-quality photo printers, Epson had the pro market to itself for a while, so while Epson profiles are created by most major paper manufacturers, you may not always find paper profiles for HP and Canon printers. At Red River, they widely support Epson, and have a number of Canon profiles now, but there are only a few for HP. That doesn’t mean this won’t change, but as of the writing of this book, that’s the reality.
Just like when you download Canon profiles, Red River (and many other paper manufacturers) provides the profile (shown here; some paper manufacturers provide an installer) and instructions, so you install it yourself. Again, on a PC, just Right-click on the profile and choose Install Profile. On a Mac, go to your hard disk, in your Library folder, and in your ColorSync folder, to the Profiles folder. Just drag the file in there and you’re set.
You’ll access your profile by choosing Print from Elements’ File menu. In the Print dialog, click on the More Options button in the bottom left, then click on Color Management on the left of the dialog. Change the Color Handling pop-up menu to Photoshop Elements Manages Color, then click on the Printer Profile pop-up menu, and your new color profile(s) will appear. Here, I’m printing to a Canon PRO-1000 using Red River’s UltraPro Satin paper, so that’s what I’m choosing as my printer profile (it’s named RR UPSatin 4.0 Can Pro-1000). That’s it, but there’s more on using these color profiles next in this chapter.
TIP: Custom Profiles for Your Printer
You can also pay an outside service to create a custom profile for your printer. You print a provided test sheet, overnight it to them, and they’ll use an expensive colorimeter to measure your test print and create a custom profile, but it’s only good for that printer, on that paper, with that ink. If anything changes, your profile is worthless. You could do your own personal printer profiling (using something like one of X-Rite’s i1 Pro packages), so you can re-profile each time you change paper or inks. It’s really just up to you.