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Getting the Best Soft Proofing Results

May 31, 2016

Rachel Halford

Accurate soft proofing is a key step to getting the best possible prints from your Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer. When you follow best practices in soft proofing, you can accurately predict how your images will print before you dedicate ink, media, and time to your printing project.

Set up your work area

When color counts, make sure to set up your work area for optimal color judgment. Adjust your seating so that you are in a comfortable position where you can work without eye or neck strain. The angle at which you view your screen can make a critical difference in the colors that you see, so make sure that you are viewing at the center of your display from top to bottom as well as from side to side.

Surrounding colors can strongly affect our color recognition. (For more information about this, see the Color Perception article in this series.) Even though you may love your cheerful yellow coffee mug and your neon post-it notes, move them out of your viewing area while you are making color critical judgments. Change the desktop image on your computer to a solid neutral gray.

Check how the lighting in your work area is set up. Is it consistent day to day and throughout the day? You will get the most consistent results when you review your images with a repeatable light source. For the best possible screen-to-print matching, a desktop light booth will enable you to see your prints under consistent, full-spectrum light.

Set up your system

Monitor calibration is one of the best known tools in a good soft proofing system, and with good reason. In order for you to trust the color that your monitor outputs, you need periodic measurements to confirm that the red, green, and blue color combinations from your display are accurate. For most modern LED displays, monitors should be calibrated around once a month.

Before calibrating your monitor, be sure to turn on your display and let it run for about an hour so that the light source has fully stabilized. In most cases, you will get good soft proofing results by targeting your monitor with a white point of 6500 degrees Kelvin, gamma 2.2 and a luminance of 120 candela per square meter (cd/m2). Refer to the documentation and training materials included with your monitor calibration system for more specific information on the ideal settings for your scenario.

When your monitor calibration is complete, your operating system will attempt to assign the profile you have created as the default monitor profile. Depending on your operating system and the user rights that you have configured, you may need to manually set your custom monitor profile as your system profile. This will enable your imaging applications to correctly implement the display profile for soft proofing.

On a Mac, you can set the system profile by going to System Preferences > Displays > Color and choosing your profile from the menu.

On a PC, right-click on your desktop and choose Properties > Color Management > Devices. Select your display from the Device list and choose “Use my settings for this device.” In the Associate Color Profile dialog box, select your display profile, and click “Set as Default Profile.”

Even when you are editing on a mobile device, you can calibrate your display and perform a customized print simulation using the Pantone ColorTrue application.

See the accompanying article on Using Third Party ICC Profiles for specific instructions on configuring soft proofing in your imaging applications.

Set Yourself up for Success!

Even with the best color measurement technology, your eyes remain the most important piece of imaging technology available to you. Stress, fatigue, caffeine and alcohol can all affect your color perception, so treat yourself right. Take frequent breaks when you are making color critical judgments to give your eyes a chance to rest and refresh.

Investing a bit of time into correctly configuring your workstation for soft proofing success will reward you with faster editing, saved time and materials, and, best of all, an increased sense of confidence that what you see on your screen will be what you see in your print.

Rachel Halford
Rachel Halford

Rachel has over 15 years of experience in product development, training, and support in color management and inkjet printing at Canon, X-Rite, and the Graphic Intelligence Agency.

Rachel Halford

Rachel has over 15 years of experience in product development, training, and support in color management and inkjet printing at Canon, X-Rite, and the Graphic Intelligence Agency. When she isn’t lending her expertise in writing and training on graphic technology, Rachel enjoys photography, cooking, and exploring the Michigan beaches with her family.

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