What to Do If the Print Still Doesn’t Match Your Screen
Okay, what do you do if you followed all these steps—you’ve hardware calibrated your monitor, you’ve got the right paper profiles, and color profiles, and profiles of profiles, and so on, and you’ve carefully turned on every checkbox, chosen all the right color profiles, and you’ve done everything right—but the print still doesn’t match what you see onscreen? You know what we do? We fix it in Elements. That’s right—we make some simple tweaks that get the image looking right fast.
Your Print Is Too Dark
This is one of the most common problems, and it’s mostly because today’s monitors are so much brighter (either that, or you’re literally viewing your images in a room that’s too dark). Luckily, this is an easy fix and here’s what I do: Press Ctrl-J (Mac: Command-J) to duplicate the Background layer, then at the top of the Layers palette, change the layer blend mode to Screen to make everything much brighter. Now, lower the Opacity of this layer to 25% and (this is key here) make a test print. Next, look at the print, and see if it’s a perfect match, or if it’s still too dark. If it’s still too dark, set the Opacity to 35% and make another test print. It’ll probably take a few test prints to nail it, but once you do, your problem is solved.
Your Print Is Too Light
This is less likely, but just as easy to fix. Duplicate the Background layer, then change the layer blend mode to Multiply to make everything darker. Now, lower the Opacity of this layer to 20% and make a test print. Again, you may have to make a few test prints to get the right amount, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
Your Print Is Too Red (Blue, etc.)
This is one you might run into if your print has some sort of color cast. First, before you mess with the image, press the Tab key on your keyboard to hide the Toolbox, palettes, and Tool Options Bar, and put a solid gray background behind your photo. Then, just look to see if the image onscreen actually has too much red. If it does, then click on the Create New Adjustment Layer icon (the half-white/half-blue circle) at the top of the palette, and choose Hue/Saturation. In the Hue/Saturation adjustment palette, from the Channel pop-up menu, choose Reds (or Blues, etc.), then lower the Saturation amount to –20, and then (you knew this was coming, right?) make a test print. You’ll then know if –20 was too much, too little, or just right. You may have to make a few test prints before you nail it.
Your Print Has Visible Banding
The more you’ve tweaked an image, the more likely it is you’ll run into this (where the colors have visible bands, rather than just smoothly graduating from color to color. It’s most often seen in blue skies). Here’s how to deal with this: Go under the Filter menu, under Noise, and choose Add Noise. In the dialog, set the Amount to 4%, click on the Gaussian radio button, and turn on the Monochromatic checkbox. You’ll see the noise onscreen, but it disappears when you print the image (and usually, the banding disappears right along with it).