Colour management in practice

About colour management in practice

A typical colour management workflow starts by ensuring that colours seen through a camera viewfinder are captured and digitally recorded. Editing software such as Adobe CC allows extensive choices to be made about the appearance of images. When the workflow demands it, the calibration of monitors ensures information is accurately reproduced when viewed on screen. A successful outcome is one where all the decisions made during the editing process are accurately rendered in the resulting image.

A. Image capture   B. Image editing   C. Monitoring images   D. Image output


A. Image Capture
  • Digital cameras provide settings to allow colour profiles to be selected that affect how colours are recorded, these deal with:
    • White balance
    • Photo style setting includes control over sharpness, depth of field, contrast, saturation and tone (including monochrome) etc.
  • Digital file formats enable control over the quantity and types of information stored about an image:
    • Raw file formats store all the recorded information without compression.
    • JPEG, TIFF and PNG use algorithms to produce a balance between file size and image quality.
B. Image Editing
  • Software suites such as Adobe CC allow for almost limitless choices when editing visual material.
  • Applications within Adobe CC such as Photoshop and Illustrator allow workspaces to be selected prior to editing.
  • A workspace in Adobe apps is an intermediate colour model-related colour space used during the editing process.
  • A global setting for the colour mode of a workspace in Illustrator can be selected in the Document colour mode dialogue box during the set-up of a new document.
  • Workspaces can also be temporarily switched between CMYK, HSB, RGB, Greyscale and Websafe RGB in the Colour Settings dialogue box without affecting the Document colour mode.
C. Monitoring Images
  • Monitor profiles control the translation of data within image files into a monitor’s colour space.
  • On-screen controls may include:
  • Monitor calibration tools ensure accurate colour across the visible spectrum and fine tonal adjustment. Professional monitor calibration packages include:
    • Datacolor SpyderX
    • Calibrite ColorChecker
    • Wacom Colour Manager
    • SpectraCal Colorimeter
D. Image Output
  • Colour management systems use output device profiles to prepare and translate the data in edited documents to match the capabilities of an output device and ensure the best possible match.
  • To ensure consistency across applications, Adobe CC provides options to be selected in the Colour Settings dialogue box that ensures all applications are synchronized to use the same device-independent colour space.
    • RGB Colour Settings options include:
      • Adobe RGB (1998)
      • Prophoto RGB
      • sRGB
    • An extensive range of CMYK colour space options are also available.

A. Lab colour space (entire visible spectrum)   B. Documents (working space)   C. Devices 

This diagram illustrates the generic colour gamuts of different types of devices and documents.