In the previous article, we understand the concept of “soft proofing” and its benefits. In this article, we are going to share some tips for getting better results on your soft proofing operations. You may also use these tips as a checklist to make sure that you are following a proper procedure.
It is very important to have a consistent viewing condition when reviewing soft proofing results. Soft proofing can only deliver the best results when all major light and light-influencing factors are stable and are taken at the same point in time. These factors cover ambient location lighting, surrounding wall colors, monitor settings, and the lighting that illuminates prints. When creating ICC profiles, all of these essential factors must maintain consistent and be taken into account at the same time to avoid value drift and unwanted offsets.
Per past soft proofing experience, soft proofing could show the best result when the monitor white point matches with paper white. This means calibrating the monitor’s white point to match your paper white, adjusted for specific light conditions in the location prints will be reviewed. The underlying reason is that our visual system is very sensitive to white; if the white is not matched, then no matter how good the other colors are matched, we still think it is not matched. Hence, it is necessary to match the monitor white to the paper white, and the best way to do it is to calibrate the monitor white point to the paper white.
In order to get soft proofing to work, it is necessary to have a good quality printer ICC profile. The printer ICC profile contains the following information: printer characteristics, ink color characteristics, paper characteristics, and light source characteristics. You can obtain printer ICC profiles from the printer manufactures, but the ICC profiles they provide are made from the batch, not specifically tailored to your printer unit. Secondly, they usually don’t support third party paper types. That’s why we’d recommend creating your own printer ICC profile as long as you have the proper device.
Another advantage of creating your own printer ICC profile is that you could incorporate your light source in the creation steps. This will give you a better rendering capability than using generic D65 or D50 if the printer ICC profile is created elsewhere.
The batch consistency of the first party genuine ink cartridges is usually better than that of compatible ones. This is the main reason why we encourage you to use genuine product from your printer manufacturer, especially if you wish to create custom-made ICC profiles. Choosing genuine ink cartridges means you won’t need to rebuild the printer ICC profile each time you replace ink cartridges, which may be necessary if you opt for cheaper third party products. The latter lack ink and color consistency, requiring reprofiling whenever replaced.
Using the same device to create both the printer and monitor ICC profiles can save a lot of problems. For example, you can use X-rite i1 Pro 2 Publish to create your printer ICC profile and calibrate your BenQ PhotoVue monitor. This is because using the same instrument can minimize the measurement error introduced by different measuring devices, such as different units, different measuring mechanisms, and different color calculation algorithms. The best practice for soft proofing scenario is using a spectrophotometer type measurement device to create your printer ICC profile and to calibrate your monitor.
Follow the above tips, you can surely enjoy optimal soft proofing results and expect great photo prints.