This is a question on principles, best practice, advice and opinion.

Working with a large team of mix-matched professions, i have discovered many color profiles, some resulting in visually very different look and feel than the intended colors/brightness/contrast.

My question, is there a standard for such values as color profile, gamma, contrast, brightness?

Is there a way to set these value's?

Do you guys take into account these variables when setting up your projects or just go with your gut?

For Windows 10 i have found color calibration to vary heavily under the monitorbrands, for Mac with external monitors the colors are mostly ok, but that could be just my point of view.

  • are there resources, or informationscheme's to read up on this info? I have tried google but came up short of an answer.
    Jan 16 '17 at 9:08
  • What calibrator are you using and are you doing constant calibration. There is no such thing as factory calibrated in the price bracket of most offices.
    – joojaa
    Jan 16 '17 at 10:29

Color profiles do not deal with eliminating color variations. There is a important distinction as they deal with dealing with color variations.

In order for you to have even a tiny chance of seeing the same color you need to calibrate your monitors. For this you need a physical screen calibration device you can not do this with software alone! No you can not use manufacturer drivers to do this, each monitor needs to be calibrated in the operating environment with typical operation lightning conditions for that monitor. This means that a monitor needs to be calibrated every now and then, and for exacting work you need to have constant lighting at the desktop (and you need to keep monitoring lights and monitor decay). In essence this means to color calibrate atleast 8-6 times a year to acount for seasonal variation.

What you would calibrate your monitor to depends on what you are doing, there are different standards for print, broadcast and webpages. For most computer work you should calibrate to sRGB/* if your monitor actually can show sRGB. Some cheap monitors simply can not attain the color range of sRGB so they can only emulate what it should look like.

All of this is entirely irrelevant if you work at doing graphics for pure digital consumption. You simply can not get normal users to see the same color! Mobile devices can not typically even be calibrated. You just have to live with the fact that the color you choose is not going to be more than something sometimes not even close to what you meant.

/* or Adobe RGB but then all normal things look wrong

  • I guess you provide the answer most suitable for my question, which is indicating there is no reliable standard for the obvious fact of lighting situations. Same could be said for "office lighting" standards, monitor decay. Thanks for the insight on color calibration periodics, i guess this could be ammended by regional changes in seasons, howover for the most part this seems accurate. If you care, join me in the comments to discuss propper calibrating tools for monitors, your answer is accepted @joojaa
    Jan 16 '17 at 12:43

It is important to understand what a color profile is. And the diference to color spaces, that is diferent.

What calibrating a monitor is?

The basic idea is that specialized hardware measures a series of controlled color patches to see what the monitor is capable of displaying, and comparing the real output of the monitor versus the color that should have displayed, make some adjustments, to pump the color or diminish it.

enter image description here

This makes a profile for the monitor in its current conditions. This profile is normally stored to be used by your operating system in general, not an aplication.

And whow about calibrating a print?

Then you sent to print a secific file with specific series of patches. Then again you measure them and the program make some adjustments to the specific printer profile, to even pump some ink more or make it dimmer.

(You will be asked to print the same file again and you will see the diferences)

enter image description here

This profile is placed in a folder that specific programs like Photoshop, Corel, Indesign and Ilustrator can use for a specific case.

Generic Profiles

Comercial print:

There are generic profiles for some circumstances, for example Swop, Gracol, Eurocoated, Japan, Fogra. If you do not have aspecialized hardware you should use the most suitable profile with it specific variations (Coated, Uncoated, etc.)

You need to investigate a little bit what profile you need... or your provider is using.

Digital and home user

Normally you just want to use a generic RGB color profile... In reality you need a generic Color Space. (but that is out of the scope of this answer). The most commonly used is sRGB, Adobe 1998 and ProPhoto.

And let the printer software do the proper calculations.

Previewing the print

But let us imagine that your red gives its best effort to be bright but simply can not. Then this information is sent back to the color profile so, when you see the preview on your monitor you do not see the unreal bright red, but a simulation of the actual red your print made.

enter image description here

So the best practice is to calibrate your monitor and printer exprofesso.

On a print it specific to the ink-paper-process combination and specific to a CMYK output. This does not apply to spot colors.

Spot colors are simulated internally by the aplication (Photoshop, Ilustrator, Corel, Indesign)

The calibration does not depend on the motherboard. Depends on the graphicsCard-monitor-operatingSystem combination.

And also the environment. Take a look at this post: https://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/85499/display-calibration-for-viewing-on-displays-devices/85501#85501

Adjusting Gamma on a monitor is a poor man´s aproach, that can render decent results. Take a look at this: How configure color in InDesign for a specific printer?

Regarding contrast and brightness, totally depends on your monitor, viewing conditions and that suits you. The calibration software might give you some instructions. This is affected by the enviroment light.

  • You should boost the last pictures red for clarity. Anyway getting a hardware calibrator is not so expensive that it works ouldnt pay itself back in a jiff. Unfortunately most digital screens arent calibrated and or profiled/profile aware so voitais of print this is just a dream. Oh and for first image you should point out that it might also pump the colors down. Or might not be able to do the calibration (but it can still profile)
    – joojaa
    Jan 16 '17 at 20:41
  • I darkened the last swatches. n_n
    – Rafael
    Jan 16 '17 at 20:55

This can be a serious downgrading, but I take the risk.

I think you should want to see on your monitor a reliable preview of the final output colors. They may be quite flat, if the final output media can't create high contrasts and saturations. Your customer may get angry when he sees on your screen his sparkling colors nearly as grey. But that's the truth.

My argument: Your job is to help the customer to select such material which is possible to be shown with good quality in the final output media. Also that job includes adjusting that material to be shown as its best.

So: Have a wide gamut screen, color calibrate your system by using a special device for that and have the right color profiles to be in use in your software. If you use some pieces of software that skip the color management or "some no profile included" material, be sure to insert it in an industry ready application such as Photoshop.

Adobe has good tutorials on color management practices.

  • Could you clarify in which case the colors would appear greyish? Did you intent to describe the colors differing value across different monitors as grey on one and sparkling on another? @user287001
    Jan 16 '17 at 12:45
  • @DGRFDSGN The customer already had selected cheap enough, but low reflectance (=greyish) paper. My system (with proper color profiles inserted) showed the printing result as it would have come out. Customer's colorfull photos looked out sparkling when watched onscreen before placing them to InDesign. InDesign was able to foretell the fiasco. The screen was the same. Actually the fiasco could have been noticed alredy in Photoshop when converting the photos to CMYK,
    – user287001
    Jan 16 '17 at 13:06
  • I see, thereby you would have prevented the cost of printwork before finding out the results were not satisfactory. Thats part of the reason i am trying to clarify if there are (easily) applied standards, but also for displaying purely digital work, in which as answered by @joojaa stated most devices will be physically or otherwise out of reach for calibrating the color/brightness.
    Jan 16 '17 at 17:23

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