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Managing Color

We've covered some color basics, but before going any further you may want to do a couple things to ensure that the color you see on your monitor will be reasonably accurate when you decide to print or send images to the Web. Luckily, color management in Photoshop Elements is very simple, and doesn't require any labor-intensive chores on your part.

First, you should make sure that the colors you see on the monitor are reasonably accurate, and represent what others will see on their monitors. Calibrating your monitor is a particularly good idea if you have an older monitor, or inherited it from a friend or relative (you don't know what they might have done to the monitor settings). If you have a newer monitor, it probably came with an accurate calibration from the factory. In that case, as you go through the following steps, you may find that no changes are needed.

If you prefer, you can also choose color settings optimized for either Web graphics or color printing.

To calibrate your monitor with Adobe Gamma (Windows):

  1. Start Adobe Gamma, which is located in the Program Files/Common Files/Adobe/Calibration folder ( Figure 3.15 ).

    Figure 3.15 In Windows XP, the Adobe Gamma control panel is buried inside the Calibration folder in your hard drive.

    The Adobe Gamma start screen appears. If you've calibrated your monitor before, you may be launched to the Gamma control panel directly. If so, go to step 3.
  2. From the Adobe Gamma start screen ( Figure 3.16 ), do one of the following:

    Figure 3.16 The Adobe Gamma utility is used to calibrate your monitor for Windows XP. It includes a Step by Step mode that guides you through the monitor calibration process.

    • Click Step by Step (Wizard) to adjust your color settings using the onscreen instructions.
    • Choose Control Panel, click Next, and follow the steps below.
  3. When you come to the gamma settings screen, uncheck the View Single Gamma Only check box ( Figure 3.17 ).

    Figure 3.17 Setting up Adobe Gamma ensures that the color images on your screen are represented accurately. In this dialog box, unchecking View Single Gamma Only lets you adjust the red, green, and blue values on your monitor.

    Three color boxes appear, representing the red, green, and blue colors displayed by your monitor ( Figure 3.18 ).

    Figure 3.18 To make adjustments to the red, green, and blue values, move the color slider back and forth until the inside and outside boxes match as closely as possible. Usually the colors will match closest around the midpoint of the sliders' range.

  4. Using the sliders, match the inner colors to the outer colors in the boxes.
  5. Click OK, then in the Save As dialog box, click Save to save your changes. The monitor profile is saved in the profiles folder.

To calibrate your monitor with the Apple calibration utility (Mac OS):

To calibrate your monitor with the Apple calibration utility (Mac OS):

  1. In the System Preferences window, click Displays ( Figure 3.19 ).

    Figure 3.19 For Mac OS, you can use the Display Calibration Assistant to calibrate your monitor. First click Displays in the System Preferences window.

  2. Click on the Color tab in the Displays window and then click Calibrate ( Figure 3.20 ).

    Figure 3.20 Click on the Color tab and then click Calibrate to start the Display Calibration Assistant.

    The Display Calibration Assistant appears ( Figure 3.21 ).

    Figure 3.21 The Display Calibration Assistant guides you through the steps to calibrate your monitor.

  3. Follow the step-by-step instructions to calibrate your monitor.

To choose color settings:

  1. From the Edit menu (Windows), or from the Photoshop Elements menu (Mac OS), choose Color Settings ( Figure 3.22 ).

    Figure 3.22 Choose Edit > Color Settings to bring up the Color Settings dialog box.

    The Color Settings dialog box appears, with three color management options ( Figure 3.23 ).

    Figure 3.23 Choose a color management option best suited to the final output of your image.

    • If you have been using Photoshop Elements, are happy with the colors you're seeing, and don't want to change anything, then choose No Color Management. This is the default setting (and a perfectly acceptable option).
    • If you are creating images that will be seen mostly on the Web, choose Limited Color Management. You may want to try this option if you're not happy with the colors of your images when viewed on different monitors.
    • To ensure that you get the most accurate colors for your printed images, choose Full Color Management.
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