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Author Topic: Question about soft proofing a color test print image  (Read 792 times)

tsinsf

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Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« on: January 19, 2023, 11:40:35 am »

I have read multiple recommendations to make color test prints using your printer and paper choices to help determine which paper you want to use for making prints. I went through this process with ten matte papers I got ordering sample packs. I soft proofed each paper choice (using paper manufacturer ICC profiles) in Lightroom, trying to make the soft proof look like the original, then printed each using Lightroom on my Epson P900. How pleasing or "good" the print looks to you, how well it approximates the image on your computer screen, then depends on the printer, the paper choice, and your soft proofing. What if you did a better soft proof on one paper than another? Am I missing something about using color test prints?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2023, 11:47:54 am by tsinsf »
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rasworth

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2023, 04:24:28 pm »

You may be be going about it backwards.  My preferred method is to print a "perfect" reference image (several available from Digital Dog, Outback Photo, and others), using the selected paper and associated profile, with no adjustments as to color, contrast, etc., but with color management turned on.

With print in hand, compare it to a soft-proofed version in Photoshop, using the same profile and reference intent as was used for for printing, with ink/paper simulation turned on.  The trick is then to adjust the monitor brightness and viewing environment so that the screen image "matches" the print in hand.  Unless white points are identical one cannot hold the print side by side with the monitor, rather view the print and then turn to the monitor, back and forth, using your color vision "memory" to match images.

It can be a frustrating process, but once the match is made you should be set for other papers/profiles, assuming good quality profiles.  There are many more complete descriptions of the process I outlined above, Andrew Rodney has detailed instructions on his website.

Richard Southworth
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tsinsf

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2023, 06:48:48 pm »

Thanks for the reply. Could you be more specific about "with color management turned on"? Where?
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digitaldog

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2023, 09:19:06 pm »

Thanks for the reply. Could you be more specific about "with color management turned on"? Where?
Start here:

Why are my prints too dark?
Why doesn’t my display match my prints?
A video update to a written piece on subject from 2013
In this 24 minute video, I'll cover:

Are your prints really too dark?
Display calibration and WYSIWYG
Proper print viewing conditions
Trouble shooting to get a match
Avoiding kludges that don't solve the problem

High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/Why_are_my_prints_too_dark.mp4
Low resolution: https://youtu.be/iS6sjZmxjY4
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tsinsf

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2023, 01:09:26 pm »

Thank you both for your answers. Andrew, I've watched your fabulous video many times and just watched it again. I understand most of the principles you lay out in the video and have for several years succesfully been making prints that match my monitor well using those principles. I have a Nec printer and calibrate with Spectraview II at 95 cd/m2 and use generic ICC profiles. I understand the concepts around viewing the print and how the subjective "darkness" changes with the viewing light. During this time I have only been printing on Luster paper, which as you know requires less skill and manipulation than matte paper. I decided to make a portfolio of my favorite photos to give to my children and decided to use a matte paper. I thought one of the purposes of making a color test print image was to determine how the prints made on different papers would look on my printer. Apparently that is wrong. Is it wrong? Does making a color test print image have nothing to do with choosing which papers you prefer to print on?

So, how do I make a color test print correctly? There it is in Lightroom print module. Do I just choose the correct ICC profile for the paper I am using and then print it with no adjustments? Then what do I do with that print? From viewing Andrews video my understanding is that I use it to change the calibration settings on my monitor to make it match the print. Is that correct? And if that is the case, does that mean I need a monitor profile for every different paper?

Thank you in advance for your help!!
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JeanMichel

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2023, 03:59:21 pm »

Hi,
I too have seen Andrew's videos, as well as those with Jeff Schewe, and found those of immense help.

Soft-proofing in LR, using the correct ICC profile, goes a long way to make a first decent-looking print but it only goes this far. You do get a pleasing print, but for a final print you may need to tweek the image. Remember that you are viewing an image in RGB using transmitted light and printing in sort of cmyk inkset driven by a rgb device, that we get an easily made print is almost magic to me. So, making test prints is still valid, just as in darkroom days.

As to monitor calibration: you do not calibrate the monitor for different papers.
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tsinsf

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2023, 11:26:46 am »

OP here. I'm still confused. So if I just make a color test print image with no soft proofing, using the appropriate ICC profile for the paper, what do I do with this print? What is its purpose?
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Rand47

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2023, 12:15:35 pm »

OP here. I'm still confused. So if I just make a color test print image with no soft proofing, using the appropriate ICC profile for the paper, what do I do with this print? What is its purpose?

For me this “is” the question.  Printing a good test image like Bill Atkinson’s w/o making any adjustments in LR or PS and printing with the appropriate ICC but no soft proofing, and comparing this image on two different papers allows you to see things like, relative saturation of various colors, rendering of various colors tonalities, comparison of the gamut of the papers visually - not scientific but will give you a sense of at least large differences.  Also the visual differences in  paper white, texture, etc. on a real image w/ different subject matter types all in one place.  And how each paper appears “sharp” or not re the detail in the image.  Again, not scientific but often very visible and caused by physical characteristics of the paper, coatings, etc. that I’m certainly no expert to explicate - but you can see it.

I always include a print like this when evaluating a new paper.  I’ve kept all of them with the labels on them so that I can “look over” the various papers I’ve tested and have a catalog of real results.

Finally, this takes “out of the equation” exactly what you feared might make a difference - possible differences in your soft proofing the file on different papers.   Soft proofing is as much, or more, an art than a science IMO.  In fact, I’ve seen videos of Jeff Schewe demonstrating his soft proofing process wherein he decides he likes some of the things he did in soft proofing so much (improved image overall) that he then copied and pasted these changes back into his original!

Rand
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tsinsf

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2023, 01:47:39 pm »

Rand, thank you so much for your reply. You answered my questions perfectly.
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Rand47

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2023, 03:49:27 pm »

Rand, thank you so much for your reply. You answered my questions perfectly.

You’re very welcome.  I’m sure I’m technically deficient here somewhere, maybe more than one “somewhere”…. but I have printed a lot, and tested many many papers in winnowing down the few that have become my go-to fine art papers.  And this approach, along with using ColorThink Pro to compare gamut volumes of different papers with the printers I use, really helps.

Another “silly” thing I do is when soft proofing in Lightroom on a new paper, I pay a lot of attention to how much “change” I see when I check the “Simulate Paper & Ink” button (what Jeff Schewe calls the “Make my image look like crap button.” LOL).  The less change, the greater (in general) the gamut volume of the paper, I think.   ColorThinkPro seems to validate my sense of this.  I’ll click it “on, off, on, off” several times and pay attention to the various portions of the image to really “soak in” the change I see.   If you’ve not done that, and then compared the “how much change” between different papers your testing, I think it can be instructive.   I’ll even download ICC profiles and do this w/o even buying the paper to get a general sense of things, and how challenging/difficult, or not, soft proofing is on that paper.  That too can be instructive.

Rand
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Wheathin21

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2023, 04:32:40 pm »

OP here. I'm still confused. So if I just make a color test print image with no soft proofing, using the appropriate ICC profile for the paper, what do I do with this print? What is its purpose?
You should make the test print with the same driver/printer/software settings you use do your printing normally. Think of soft-proofing as a "filter" over the file you can toggle and change. Doesn't change the file itself, just the appearance on the screen.
Use the test print to validate your soft-proofing environment. You want to match the screen to the paper. Usually, I calibrate and profile my monitor beforehand, making only brightness adjustments to match the proof print under light. Keep in mind, if you have a high cri light you can select illuminant it's supposed to be for your monitor profile and soft-proofing will correct that to paper white.
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bellevuefineart

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2023, 03:20:56 pm »

I have found that soft proofing is generally not that good in Photoshop and Lightroom. However, I do find that if you use Imageprint that the layout window is a much better indication of how that print will look when printed. If you don't have Imageprint, you can always download a demo copy, and even without a license you can use the layout window for soft proofing. It's still not perfect, but in my experience it's a much more accurate way to soft proof your work before printing it. And since Imageprint Black and Red, you can now use third party profiles, so using the same profiles that you would use printing directly from Lightroom or Photoshop, you shouldn't have any surprises.

To download a demo copy just go to www.colorbytesoftware.com.
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digitaldog

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2023, 03:26:40 pm »

I have found that soft proofing is generally not that good in Photoshop and Lightroom. However, I do find that if you use Imageprint that the layout window is a much better indication of how that print will look when printed.
In properly created color management applications, using the same settings, there would be no difference in the soft proof. The GUI will provide a visual issue! You need to view soft proofing properly, full screen mode, no GUI elements showing etc.
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dasuess

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2023, 12:54:21 pm »

In properly created color management applications, using the same settings, there would be no difference in the soft proof. The GUI will provide a visual issue! You need to view soft proofing properly, full screen mode, no GUI elements showing etc.

Andrew,
I do my soft proofing in LR using the side-by-side comparison view (Y key). Entering fullscreen mode via "F" key disables the comparison view, but using "L" key removes all the UI stuff and keeps the comparison view. Can I assume this gives me the same visual benefit as fullscreen mode?
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digitaldog

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2023, 01:06:27 pm »

Andrew,
I do my soft proofing in LR using the side-by-side comparison view (Y key). Entering fullscreen mode via "F" key disables the comparison view, but using "L" key removes all the UI stuff and keeps the comparison view. Can I assume this gives me the same visual benefit as fullscreen mode?
Anything in white drawn by the UI isn't under going the contrast reduction with Paper White simulation. The less, the better of course. Your eyes adapt to the whitest white in view. Ideally, that would be only paper white.
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cortlander

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Re: Question about soft proofing a color test print image
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2023, 02:19:12 pm »

I have read multiple recommendations to make color test prints using your printer and paper choices to help determine which paper you want to use for making prints. I went through this process with ten matte papers I got ordering sample packs. I soft proofed each paper choice (using paper manufacturer ICC profiles) in Lightroom, trying to make the soft proof look like the original, then printed each using Lightroom on my Epson P900. How pleasing or "good" the print looks to you, how well it approximates the image on your computer screen, then depends on the printer, the paper choice, and your soft proofing. What if you did a better soft proof on one paper than another? Am I missing something about using color test prints?

In this Keith Cooper YouTube video he discusses how to use test prints:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v7le3ezfaQ&list=PL2Ud6AP-Z5JC8lg49MDfzx5gdOneChT0n&index=18
 
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cortlander
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