How to Use Adobe Photoshop to Soft Proof an Image


Today I’ll demonstrate how to use Adobe Photoshop to soft proof your photographs. What is soft proofing crucial? Soft proofing your photographs is a terrific way to simulate their appearance based on the specific printer and paper combination before printing them. You’ll ultimately save time and money this way.

Soft proofing is done using a computer monitor, which has a considerably broader color spectrum than printers, but keep in mind that this article is only meant to offer you a crash course in the procedure. Soft proofing can help you get as near the on-screen image as possible without guaranteeing your print will appear exactly like it.

However, you must do two things before beginning:

Make sure your monitor is calibrated first. Be prepared to recalibrate at least once a month after the initial calibration. There are many other options, but The Spyder Series by Datacolor has been a fantastic experience. Remember that a program like Adobe Gamma is insufficient to achieve appropriate calibration. You need a tool that will enable you to monitor color settings and measure things like ambient light.

Getting the appropriate ICC profile is the second thing you require. Each color-capturing or -displaying gadget has a unique shape. It is also challenging to predict how precisely your print will look without a preset that enables you to emulate the various papers, colors, and inks utilized by numerous printers. Contacting your printmaker will allow you to find the appropriate profile. The profile you require should be easily downloadable from their website.

Now that your monitor has been calibrated and you have the intended profile, you may begin soft proofing.

At first glance, my appearance is excellent. All of the colors are vivid, and nothing seems odd. I will avoid modifying and duplicating the image at this stage because I am so pleased with it. But before I do that, I’ll increase the preview size to 100%. Later on, I’ll discuss why this is significant. I now have two copies of the image, one for the soft proof and one for reference, in case I need to change the soft-proofed version after adding my ICC profile. In a few minutes, you’ll understand what I mean ultimately.

Make a copy of your image.

Please give it a name that will make it simple to distinguish from the original. The duplicate image that we will be focusing on is this one. But before we apply our ICC profile, let me demonstrate something. Recall how I said our monitors could display colors using a broader spectrum than printers. Go to Gamut Warning from View and note how much of our image is obscured.

Now you must understand that a gamut warning acts as a very mild warning before you go through all of your photographs turning on the gamut warning. That essentially translates to taking the entire caution with a grain of salt in English. The gamut warning is not, however, a pointless instrument. It accomplishes its goals reasonably nicely. It informs us that a printer could find it challenging to reproduce the missing colors accurately. Though an exact match cannot be guaranteed, you can anticipate that certain sections will print with a similar appearance in terms of hue. As a result, the dark reds and midnight blue background we see here will probably be a little wrong.

Remember that since our image will be tailored particularly to the printer’s color gamut, we won’t be able to switch this warning back on once we’ve soft-proofed it.

Implement the profile.

Hopefully, the example above helped you better realize how crucial soft proofing is. Therefore, let’s return to View and then switch to Proof Setup. Here is where the ICC profile is used.

Because I bought one from the printer, it qualifies as a bespoke setup. A new window will open after you select Custom at the top. The ICC profile will be my choice from this window. But there are two uses for this window. Based on my chosen profile, I will also simulate how my print will appear here.

Photoshop will ask for your ICC profile when you select Devise to Simulate. I will click the drop-down arrow, choose my desired profile from the list, uncheck Preserve RGB Numbers, and then go directly to Rendering Intent. I advise using relative colorimetric but feel free to switch to perceptual if you prefer it.

Additionally, I advise looking at Black Point Compensation. If you don’t fully comprehend black points, consider this: While the printer gives black a bluish tone, the black in your photograph can have a brown tone. Black point compensation will determine a satisfactory printing resolution for your image and the printer you are using.

Before clicking OK, there is one more thing we need to take care of. We must decide on our options for the on-screen display. Let me warn you in advance that this is a difficult task. I also proposed increasing the image’s size to 100%. As soon as we click this box, our vision will change. The colors will look dull and washed out. If you can believe it, 75% is an optical illusion because our eyes have perceived white for so long; viewing it any other way seems incorrect.

This is also fascinating. When I select Simulate Paper Color, Simulate Black Ink automatically chooses itself. When mimicking paper color, these two complement one another. Remember that this only replicates how my image would look on paper; it does nothing to alter it. Additionally, mimicking paper color may not always have the same result depending on the ICC profile given to various paper kinds. The same advice I provided you concerning gamut warnings is the best advice I can offer regarding on-screen display settings. Don’t take anything too seriously. I’m going to click OK to compare my two photographs and determine if any edits are necessary. Some people prefer to leave this unchecked, so you might want to do the same if you tend to overcorrect when editing photographs.

Make any necessary modifications.

I wish to make some changes after comparing these two pictures. Of course, since every image is unique, I cannot give you instructions on this final stage. However, if you genuinely liked how the original image looked, try to soft-proof it until it looks as close to the original.

Please remember that the ICC profile should NEVER be saved with soft-proofed photos. Ensure that soft-proofed images are kept in sRGB mode.

The Writer

Since 2005, Noelle Hines has worked with digital photos and the photographers they belong to. This tutorial is also available as a video at Canvas provides photo-to-canvas printing services to amateurs and professionals nationwide if you are a skilled photographer and want to learn more.

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