The key to your color
If you want to take advantage of our economy pricing by sending us color-corrected files using our Direct Print software, then proper color management is essential. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 - Color Management
Your files must be in the sRGB color profile
You’ll need to set both your camera and your image editing software are set to the sRGB color profile. To set your profile to sRGB in Adobe Photoshop® select Edit > Color Settings. Under Working Spaces in the RGB field choose sRGB IE91966-2.1 from the drop-down menu. You can leave the other settings as-is. When you save a JPEG make sure you check the 'Embed Color Profile' box in the Save dialog window. Important: Please comfrim color match by requesting a Monitor Calibration Guide Print and compare it to this guide file. It may be necessary to further adjust your monitor to achive a perfect match.
Step 2 - Monitor Calibration
Match your monitor's color to our output
The easiest, most efficient and accurate way to calibrate and profile your monitor is with a hardware calibration device. We use, like, and recommend the Spyder4 Elite from Datacolor. This device attaches to the front of your monitor and reads color patches displayed by your software. We strongly recommend the investment in a calibration device. When setting up your device you should set your target Whitepoint and Gamma curve to 6500k and Gamma 2.2
You'll need our guide print to match your monitor to our output. You can order one from our supplies page. Open the guideprint.jpg file. Hold the photo version of the guide print under good light and manually adjust your monitor until it matches as closely as possible. Your monitor may have controls which allow you to make adjustments or your operating system may have a utility to adjust your display. There are also free programs available to do this.
Gamma Panel is a free utility that runs in the system tray and allows you to quickly switch between color profiles. You can create custom profiles by adjusting brightness, gamma and contrast settings (linked or R/G/B) and then save the settings as profiles. You can also assign a hotkey for each profile, allowing you to switch color profiles directly from the keyboard.
Step 3 - Test your color
Order an Evaluation Print from DirectPrint
Look for the Evaluation Print category in our Direct Print software to order a free 8x10 with free shipping so you can test your color management for accuracy.
Monitor Calibration FAQ
What gamma curve setting do I use?
- Generally, higher gamma values (e.g. 2.2) cause images to appear with more contrast and color saturation on screen. We recommend a gamma setting of 2.2 for LCD’s and 2.2 for older CRT’s to mimic the reflective quality of a photograph.
What white point setting is best?
- The most common value is 6500 degrees Kelvin because this is very similar to the white produced by a mid-day sun. It is also the white point specified by many color spaces and can easily be achieved on most monitors.
What is Luminance?
- The luminance value for both black and white luminance is how your monitor displays it’s native blackness and whiteness or more simply put, brightness and contrast. Most profiling software will display a black/white bar chart which prompts you to adjust brightness then contrast visually, to the point where you can just distinguish between the bars. This should achieve a screen display where the whites are not blown out and a good black that doesn’t lose shadow detail. Some profiling software may simply give you a recommended setting like 80 or 90 to enter for a luminance value.
Can I use my monitor’s RGB gain slider controls (User Color Settings) to further adjust its color for critical matching to my Evaluation Prints?
- Yes, once you determine that your monitor has these controls you would select the 'Advanced' settings in your profiling software set up. During the calibration process you will see a R-G-B graph appear where you will be prompted to manually make the needed color adjustments to the sliders, then update the calibration until the three colors in the graph are within tolerance. The software will then complete the profiling of the monitor. If your evaluation prints don’t seem to match the screen perfectly (be sure to view them in daylight or use a lamp with a daylight 5000K bulb) you can use the RGB sliders to adjust the monitor as needed.
What if my monitor doesn’t have RGB gain controls?
- You can achieve similar results by downloading and using Gamma Panel which is free on our website. Some video cards will not allow Gamma Panel to work with a profile and will 'kick out' the profile as soon as you make an adjustment. If this is the case you can balance your monitor using just the Gamma Panel, but it would be a 100% visual adjustment on your part.