whats color
color accuracy
color perception
color temperature
color models
icc workflow
color tools

What is color management?

The simplest way to define color management is to describe it as a process used to manage color across a number of different devices to ensure consistent and predictable color.

These sample images demonstrate the need to understand and manage color.


This image was captured with a digital camera and optimized in Adobe Photoshop. Both of these images were printed with a high quality ink jet printer and photographic paper. One print was made with the print driver set to automatic color, the other utilized a custom profile and an ICC color workflow to maintain color accuracy. Which image do you think was made with the auto color setting?

The first image (left side) was made with the print driver set to automatic. It has rendered the scenes color inaccurately and most people would label it as unacceptable, yet this is what many people settle for. Individuals new to digital photography that are unfamiliar with color management or a color managed workflow, would most likely use the color controls (often times color sliders) from their print driver to change the color more to their liking. The resulting prints are almost always unsatisfactory and never consistent or predictable. This approach to managing color can be extremely frustrating and time consuming and is completely unnecessary, because there is a better way!

The bottom line here is that we need to understand and control our process to ensure consistent and predictable results.

Traditional Photography Analogy: With both b&w and color silver based photography, process control was and still is critical. Time, temperature and agitation is critical to obtaining quality negatives and prints as is properly mixed and concentrated chemistry. Process control is still critically important in managing digital color, but instead of monitoring chemicals, time, temperature etc. our process is now computer driven. We must correctly manage our files, software, hardware and workflow to obtain consistent color results.


Here are a few more images demonstrating the difference between automated color printing and ICC color managed printing. Can you guess which method was used with these images?



This last image may be a little more subtle than the previous images, but it should still be fairly obvious as to which image has better or more realistic color. Please note that these images were opened and optimized with a professional image editing application (Adobe Photoshop) on a calibrated CRT monitor. The prints were all made on photographic quality paper. Why the difference?... you'll soon find out.

Key Concepts and terminology...


A good color managed system should offer consistent and predictable color.




Sect. I| ColorIntro.| WhatsColor|ColorAccuracy| ColorPercept.| ColorTemp.| ColorModels| ICCWorkfl| ColorTools|

Sect. II| Monitors| Scanners| Printers| Photoshop|

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