Custom printer profiling - fix your colour management issues with a profile from Pure Profiles

1. Compatibility

We can provide ICC profiles for almost all Windows or Mac based printers - inkjets, dye-subs and lasers - providing they use a standard printer driver (you will usually load up your images in a software application such as Photoshop, and then your printer driver settings appear when you choose to print). If you don't use a printer driver, and instead use an application called a RIP to print from (an application that loads images and controls the printing without the need of a printer driver - often used for professional wide-format printing), then please get in touch as you may need a different type of profile.

In order to profile a printer, you need to be able to print our profiling charts using specific settings. Up until late 2010, this was only possible with a select group of applications (Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Qimage etc.), and users of applications such as Lightroom and Aperture were not able to take advantage of this. That has now changed since Adobe released a utility that is designed just to print out profiling charts (ACPU - Adobe Color Printing Utility). Now, almost anybody who has software that uses profiles, can now get a custom profile to work with it (Please note - ACPU is not Mac OS 10.5 compatible). We will still support printing the profiling charts by the usual software applications (Photoshop etc.), but we do recommend using ACPU for it's simplicity.


Specific Instructions for printers and software :


Photoshop CS5

PLEASE NOTE : Adobe Colour Printing Utility (ACPU) was developed to get round the following workaround - we strongly recommend using ACPU for printing profiling charts rather than CS5.

The CS5 version of Photoshop has removed the option of "No Color Management" for the color handling when printing the profiling charts. Unfortunately this option has always been neccessary when printing the profiling charts and the omission causes a problem. There is a workaround though which works by doing a null conversion on the charts - this tags the image with an Adobe RGB profile, and then prints it with the same profile (it's a null conversion as the colours of the chart won't change). Whilst it may sound complicated, it's actually not a complex procedure to do, and our CS5 step-by-step guide will walk you through the process.


Lightroom

We do not recommend using Lightroom to print the profiling charts, as Lightroom is not able to open the untagged profiling charts without assigning a colour workspace to them. Instead, please use the Adobe Colour Printing Utility (ACPU) utility from Adobe.


Aperture

As with Lightroom, we do not recommend using Aperture to print the profiling charts due to the incompatibilities with the profiling process. Instead, please use the ACPU utility from Adobe.


Mac Snow Leopard, Epson printers and CS4

PLEASE NOTE : we strongly recommend using ACPU for printing profiling charts rather than using the following process.

As Snow Leopard appeared, we started to get a number of problems with people profiling with CS4. It's become apparant that there is a problem there, and that it is a more widespread problem than just the emails we have received (click here for more information). Quite where the fault lies is open to question since some drivers work and some don't - Epson printers in particular seem to have a problem, but not all of them. Some people are also affected by this when using Leopard rather than just Snow Leopard. There's a lot of information out there on possible causes, but a popular theory behind it is to do with the way Apple now handle untagged images (images without a colour workspace such as Adobe RGB or sRGB). If the images are untagged, then Apple transforms them into a Generic RGB workspace. Some printer drivers cope with this, whilst other's don't.

So the solution to printing the profiling charts is to assign a profile to the charts, and then perform a null conversion as follows (as stated by Adobe's Eric Chan):

  • Due to some problems with the earliest drivers, we highly recommend downloading and installing your latest printer driver from your manufacturer's website.
  • Follow our instructions for opening the profiling charts as shown in our PDF guides on our downloads page.
  • Before going to the Print option, open the Edit menu and select Assign Profile.
  • Choose Adobe RGB and click OK.
  • Click on the Print menu, and follow our instructions on setting the image size and position.
  • When you reach the Color Handling box, select Photoshop Manages Colours.
  • Set the Printer Profile to Adobe RGB.
  • Set the Rendering Intent to Relative Colorimetric.
  • Uncheck Black Point Compensation.
  • Click Print and follow the instructions in the next section for turning off the colour management in the driver.

This really is a work-around, and will hopefully be fixed in the future, but it will still provide a profile which can then be used in the usual way. Please note that this is for CS4 only - other versions of Photoshop shouldn't be affected. With CS5 you will have to do this process anyway due to the removal of the "No Color Management" option for the color handling.


Mac Leopard and Snow Leopard printer driver settings

For both Leopard and Snow Leopard, changes introduced in how the printing works can cause problems with dark prints when creating and using custom profiles (click here for more details). The solution is to do the following :

  • Download and install your latest printer driver from your manufacturer's website, as some earlier drivers did have issues with these new OS updates.
  • Follow our instructions for printing the profiling charts as shown in our PDF guides on our downloads page, until you get to the settings for the printer driver. Please note that the screenshots are taken from a Windows system in our guides, but the settings are generally the same for the Mac systems.
  • When your printer driver dialog is open, select the Color Matching tab.
  • You should have two options - Colorsync and one more (driver dependant, but could be Epson Color Controls, Vendor Controls etc.). If the options are available and not greyed out, choose the second option - NOT Colorsync. If they are greyed out, then skip this step.
  • Now select the Print Settings tab, and turn off color management (again driver dependant, but you should have a setting like Color Settings : Off (No Color Adjustment).
  • Now set up the rest of the options in the driver as described in our printing guides - such as the Paper Type, Print Quality, turning off gloss optimisers etc..

When you use the finished profile, you will then need to set the driver to use Colorsync, and the profile will be applied. Please note if you would like to see some screenshots of these settings, our CS5 download guide now has a page for these settings.


Mac Snow Leopard and v4 ICC profiles

Another issue with Snow Leopard is an incompatibility with version 4 ICC profiles (click here for more details)- at the time of this article, they do not work correctly. We therefore only supply version 2 ICC profiles so this should not be a problem.


Mitsubishi Dye-subs

For the Mitsubishi dye-sub printers - such as the CP9550DPW - when used with the standard software, the setup is a little different to what is shown in our guides. These instructions should also be useful for other dye-subs with a similiar style software :

  • Go to the Color Control tab of your printer’s properties page (for Windows, go to control panel, highlight your printer and press the right mouse button to bring up the menu – select the Properties option).
  • Delete the ICC profile set on the Color Control tab.
  • Go through the options in your software to load and print the charts.
  • In the printer driver, set Color matching to off.
  • Set Color conversion to none.
  • Set the Printing Speed to the speed you want to use - the colour output changes with this, so the profile should be used with the speed chosen at this point
  • Print the charts and send them to us.

Once we have your charts and sent you your profile, you will then have to do the following :
  • Go to the Color Control tab of your printer’s properties page as before, but this time add the profile.
  • In the printer driver, set Color matching to on.
  • Set Color conversion to Table 1.
  • Start printing!