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

Profile your printer

Module Objective: At completion of this module you will be able to profile a printer utilizing given hardware and software tools.

We have already covered monitors and scanners and although they are extremely important to our workflow, the final destination for most image files will most likely be ink on paper (print). Even though our monitor is calibrated/profiled along with our scanner if the printing process is not controlled or understood you are most likely going to be very disappointed with the results.

As we discussed in Part I of this tutorial a profile describes the characteristics of our device. Ideally we would like this profile to be as accurate and precise as possible, because we want to match what we see on our monitor to our output device, at least as close as we can get it. In fact if your color devices have been properly calibrated and profiled to this point your final output should come very close to matching your original digital camera file or scanned negative/print. Many printer and paper manufacturers have created and freely distribute "canned" or generic profiles for specific printer, ink and paper combinations. These profiles are often used with fairly good results, some users however discover that they are not good enough. There is a plethora of software applications and hardware devices that can be used to create custom profiles. A custom profile is created with your specific printer, ink and paper combination for ultimate precision and accuracy. This module will walk you through the process of creating a custom printer profile.


  • Apple G4 Computer OS 10.2.6
  • GretagMacbeth Eye-One Spectrophotometer
  • Eye-One Match software
  • Epson Stylus Photo 2200 Printer


Step 1: Attach Eye-One spectrophotometer to your computer if you have not already done so.

Please note that this device needs more power than can be delivered from a keyboard USB connector. You will most likely need to connect the Eye-One directly to your computer.








Step 2: Open calibration/profiling (Eye-One Match) software

Select Printer as the device to be calibrated/profiled.









Step 3: Select your printer and test chart.

In this case we have selected the Epson 2200 (Ink Jet Printer) and an RGB target with 918 color patches. Even though the Epson printer uses CMYK inks it is best to treat it as an RGB device for profiling. The larger target (918 patches) allows for a more accurate profile.

At this time you will also click on the Print Chart button. This will take you directly to your printer dialog box.






Step 4: Printer settings...

From the pull down menu on the left select Print Settings. Select the Media Type that you are printing too, IE: Velvet Fine Art Paper. Click on the Advanced Settings button and select 1440 pr 2880 dpi for best quality. Leave MicroWeave and Finest Detail (checked) and High Speed (unchecked).

The Media Type is especially important as this will determine in part how much ink is laid out on the paper.




Step 5: Turn the printers color management control off.

Select Color Management from the pull down menu on the left. Click on the No Color Adjustment button. This will turn off the print drivers internal color management control which is what we want. We want to control color via our ICC Color Managed workflow, the drivers attempt to manage color is not part of this workflow and if on tends to create problems.





Step 6: Summary of printer settings...

Select Summary from the pull down menu on the left. Look over the Print Settings and make sure that they are set correctly before making your print. This is just a good way to double check your settings before printing your target file.






Step 7: Calibrate the Eye-One Spectrophotometer.

Calibrating the Eye-One spectrophotometer before reading color patches ensures accurate data. Calibration brings the device back to a known state. The Eye-One includes a white calibration target on it's stand/holder. It is specific to the SN# of the spectrophotometer.




Step 8: Measure patches..

You will now measure all of the patches on the test target that you printed. You have the option to read the patches one at a time (very slow) or in strip mode. In this example we are reading in strip mode. With the help of a plastic guide each row is measured individually. The Eye-One is activated by pressing the right hand button on the unit and slowly moving over each row. Any errors will be noted and rows or patches can be read again.



Step 8 continued...

Here's an image that clearly shows how the rows of patches are read. Remember move slowly from start to finish, the software will note any errors it encounters.








Step 9: Save measured file.

Once all of the patches have been successfully read, a measured data (text) file can be saved. This text file can be opened later and used to build a custom ICC printer profile or you can skip this step and proceed directly to building your profile.






Step 10: Calculate profile.

The software will use the measured reading from your test target to create a custom ICC printer profile. This profile represents the color printing characteristics of your printer, ink and paper set-up. A custom profile should be created for each printer, ink and paper combination you plan to use.

This is a processor intensive task and may take a few minutes.




Step 11: Save ICC profile.

This is the last step in the printer profiling process. Save your new profile with a name that makes sense. It is helpful to include the printer name, ink and paper type in your description along with the current date. This file will be placed in the ColorSync folder within your operating system and is now ready for use.





OK, you've completed all but one module. You're well on your way to understanding how to use and implement an ICC color workflow. Before you proceed however please go through the following review questions to test your knowledge.


Review Questions: click on the correct answer


1) The printer target should always be printed with the default settings in your print driver.


2) Even though an Epson Ink Jet printer uses CMYK inks for printing it is best to profile it as an RGB device with most profiling software packages.


3) You should always profile your device (spectrophotometer) before any readings are made from the printed target file.


4) ICC is an abbreviation for the International Calibration Consortium.


5) Once you create a custom profile with a particular printer, ink and paper combination, in general you should not have to create another profile for this set-up.


Great job... your now ready to move on to the last module in this tutorial "Color Management and Adobe Photoshop".



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

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

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