Learn the basics of color management in Photoshop.

Author : maliDM View or add comments : (0)
Date : 2006-12-29 06:16 Average members rating : 0
Settle down kids, time for Photoshop! Today we are going to learn some of the basic principles of color management in Photoshop 6.0 and up. This is something often underestimated and misunderstood, well to be truthful I myself still try to understand it fully, but I will give you the knowledge I?ve collected so far. I will not go in length explaining every aspect of it, but rather give you some useful tips on how to correctly set color management option for optimum result.

Color management is important for one main it decides how the color will appear on the screen and/or print. Choosing the correct Color setting is vital for final outcome of your work. You can find the Color setting option under Edit menu or you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+M, this is how the menu will appear in Photoshop CS2 but most versions from 6.0 up are pretty much the same.

Now if you browse through options a little bit, you will notice it already has some of the presets and every one has its own description but for now I will explain basic terms most of the common Photoshop users will ever need.

RGB and CMYK these are the shorts for RED/GREEN/BLUE and CYAN/MAGENTA/YELLOW/KEY (or Black) respectively. Difference is RGB color mode is used to display color on your monitor, and by mixing these three colors you can create others from the spectrum. While on the other side CMYK is used for printing. Combining cyan, magenta and yellow in appropriate way you get red, green and blue, combine them together and you get black, but they use black as addition for printing, mainly because you can never achieve entirely black pigment.

Ever seen one of these:



Of course you have, this is the graphical representation of the way basic colors mix.

Now you may think ?Why is this all important for me?? Here is why. There are several paths you can chose to follow in computer graphics. Digital photography, digital painting, creating graphics for printing, web design and so on. Here are some basic explanations on how to set up your colors for your specific needs.

Basically you want RGB color mode when you are working with digital photography and high quality prints on photographic paper, actually I believe this is not printing but some form of development like traditional camera roll, but for the sake of simplicity we will use term printing, also you wish to use this color mode for the web design. Colors are much more intense and brighter.

Adobe has developed special color mode called Adobe RGB and it has wide spectrum of colors for you to use. Problem with this mode is that most of the monitors and applications (such as web browsers) can not display images in this color mode precisely and result can be rather dull, take a look at what I mean by that.

This is my photo manipulated auto portrait, so HELLO WORLD The image on the left hand side is the way I created it in Adobe RGB color mode, and the one on the right is the way browser displayed it, notice the lack of color intensity and the difference in contrast, well the colors are just too bright. Now you may wonder how I managed it to display it like that any way. Well actually the colors were even more intense but when I converted the Adobe RGB into sRGB voila.

sRGB mode or standard RGB mode is the one you wish to use displaying your work on the web and monitors (like wallpapers and web banners) and use Adobe RGB for editing digital photography for later processing and printing.

To summarize:

Use Adobe RGB color mode for working with digital photography, where you need a wide spectrum of swatches and intense colors.

Use sRGB for Web and screen display. When you are creating web graphics, logos, banners, wallpapers and so on.

Use CMYK when you are planning to print something. Flyers, posters, T-shirt prints all need to be done in CMYK mode.

Now that you understand the basics of color management there are two other things I would like to discus and I believe they fall in the generally the same category: History and Scratch disk.

Go Edit>Preferences>General or just press CTRL+K. This will bring forth Preference menu and in the General tab you can set number of History states. Default is 20 but I set to 50. This means that Photoshop will now remember 50 of your last steps instead of just 20, and give you more space for mistakes

Now press the ?Next? button until you are at the Scratch Disk tub:

It?s quite simple. Photoshop creates temporary files on your hard disk where it stores various data about the opened file. It is a good thing to use disk partition with a lot of empty space or even a separate hard disk. If you are standard user, you have probably installed your Photoshop in default folder C:Program FilesAdobePhotoshop, and this is most probably your operating system partition (Windows, Linux, whatever the Mac OS is... and you want to leave enough space for your OS to work properly.

You can choose more than one disc to be used as Scratch disk just choose it from the dropdown menu, and you are all set to go.

That?s it! You have choused the right color mode, set your history and made sure you are working with a plenty of space on your hard drive and now to the creation, of you go.

Thanks for reading this tutorial I honestly hope you learned something,