Introduction to Photoshop Colour Management
5a - Printing Images from CS6 and CC
Hopefully this article will help you to print images, while using Colour Management, from Photoshop CS6 and CC and other related Adobe applications, such as Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. Please be aware that Lightroom's printing functionality is usually considered to be both easier to use and superior to that of its big brother. We have a separate page for this.
We explain the different Colour Management concepts which are used when printing. It is generally preferable to apply Colour Management in Photoshop, rather than in the (Canon, Epson, HP, etc.) printer driver or at system level, such as with Apple ColorSync or Microsoft Windows ICM.
Also we are talking about printing to an inkjet printer, and not about 'printing presses', such as offset litho!
Before getting to the printing menu, the image must have the correct ICC source/document profile assigned to it. See the previous articles.
Photoshop CS6 Print Menu
This replaces the old Print
menu used in CS3 onwards. We are not talking about the 'Print One Copy'
mode. Most of
the comments here will still apply to the older menus, but some
important menu changes will be noted. Print
is found under File/Print.
Printer: Check that the correct printer is shown here, and if not change it.
Paper Orientation: Select the correct 'way up' for the paper using the appropriate (tiny) icon. The preview image will display this correctly.
Print Settings: Probably best to check these AFTER Colour Management settings! See below.
Color Management: You may need to change the 'tippy arrow' to get this menu.
Document Profile: This shows the image's source profile. Typically this will be Adobe RGB (as here), or sRGB, or ProPhotoRGB. Use this to confirm that the image is in the right colour space. You can't change the source profile here, so you will need to exit this menu to change this profile.
Color Handling: This is very important as it defines where colour management is applied:
Photoshop Manages Colors, aka 'Application Colour Management', is the mode used by most experienced users, being the normal way of printing using custom printer profiles. You will need to be able to access your printer's profiles, and to know which is the correct one for your printer and your correct media type. This is not so easy with many printer drivers and their generic, confusingly-named printer profiles. This mode gives you access to the superior Adobe Color Engine ('CMM'), with its better choice of Rendering Intents, etc. when compared to most printer drivers.
Note the yellow exclamation mark warning you to turn off 'Color Management' in the printer settings. This is there for a very good reason! You don't want 'double' Colour Management!
You can also preview the results before printing.
Printer Color Management will shift colour transformations to the printer and its driver. This is the usual mode if you have a RIP, which is actually just a very sophisticated (and often expensive) printer driver. If you print CMYK images it is vital to use a RIP.
If you use the regular driver which came with your inkjet printer, then this mode should be avoided if you are seeking accurate colour, as you may have little control over colour management. If you do use this mode, you must turn ON 'Color Management', (aka 'ColorSync' in a Mac, or 'ICM' in Windows), in your printer driver menu.
NOTE: No Color Management: This mode is unfortunately history, having disappeared with CS5. One reason is that it cannot work correctly under Mac OS X with RGB images, owing to bugs (now 'features' as they have been around so long and won't be fixed) in Apple's ColorSync software, and possibly also in recent versions of Windows. The most common usage was to send profiling colour targets (such as ours) to the printer. These must be printed without colour management. The workaround is to use the Adobe Color Printing Utility (available free from Adobe's site). The older, less reliable workaround of 'null profile' will not work in CS6, giving an error message.
Printer Profile: (When using Photoshop Manages Colors). Select the appropriately named profile for your printer and media (paper) type. Selecting this may require some trial-and-error if you haven't had a custom profile made for your printer and paper. The printer's 'canned' profiles are usually displayed first. If you don't have a 'canned' printer profile which delivers a good print, you will need to have a custom printer profile made. This will usually give better results than the supplied printer profile. Custom profiles made by us are usually named 'Custom'_'your initials'_'your printer'_'paper type' to make identification easier. All abbreviated, e.g. Custom_RGB_9000_Ilf_SGloss.icc. In this case 'RGB' isn't really our initials!
This will specify how the software converts colours from the (usually)
wider gamut source (image) colour space (such as Adobe
RGB) to the printer
colour space. You need to specify the rendering intent which does the
best job of handling gamut compression of colours (and deep black and
shadow areas) for your combination of image, printer and
Relative is normally the best choice for digital camera images, especially of colourful subjects. The image retains plenty of 'punch'.
Perceptual can also be used, and is recommended for scanned images from colour transparencies, and perhaps camera images of natural subjects such as landscapes and portraits. Gamut compression occurs through more of the image range, giving a 'pleasing' result.
For a more detailed explanation of Rendering Intents
In the Preview screen-grab below BPC is off, and is producing a grey 'Gamut Warning' in out-of-gamut areas.
Print Settings: Probably best to check these AFTER Colour Management settings! This allows changes of media type, paper size, etc. in your Printer Driver's own menu. These settings include the printer's own 'Color Management' controls, which you will normally need to turn OFF (if not greyed-out). Unfortunately Photoshop often can't directly access these controls. You should always press Print Settings, which takes you to your Printer Driver (Canon, Epson, HP, etc.), check everything, and press Save. Not doing this may give unexpected results. We learnt the hard way!
The Presets are your own customised Printer Driver's settings, which save you having to change lots of settings for the printer each time you print.
Description:If you let the cursor 'hover' over the various options you will see a helpful description.
Position, Size, etc.: Set as appropriate. Again check the preview.
'Viewing' Tick boxes under Image Preview:
These give a very useful 'soft-proof' ('preview' of the image.
Will have no effect on the actual print, but will give you a good idea of
what to expect. Click them on/off at will to see your likely result.
Please be aware of a possible BUG in Mac OS X 10.9 ('Mavericks') which greatly reduces the accuracy of this print preview but not the main Photoshop 'Soft Proof'. Apparently there is a fix in Photoshop CC but not CS6.
Match Print Colors: Enables the 'preview'. Turning off disables the other two settings.
Gamut Warning: Warns of colours and black areas which are outside the colour gamut range of your printer profile. Very useful for checking the effect of different Rendering Intents and Black Point Compensation. Will usually be displayed as an ugly flat grey tone, or contrasting colour, depending on your settings in Preferences. It is also found in other Photoshop menus. Colours outside of the gamut may print as a solid mass without detail.
Show Paper White: Shows the effect of the paper colour in the background, or border, of the picture, and it's effect throughout the image area. This appears to work better than in previous software versions, when it would over-exaggerate the effect. In the screen-grab Paper White turned ON is showing a slightly dull tint in the border, and also in the image itself. Very much a personal preference. Compare the two screen-grabs on this page, which may be difficult to see in a web-browser.
Printing images with Epson and Canon Printers from Macs and PCs: