Getting to the final print: How much trust should you put in color profiles?
A few notes on profiles.
First, they are not a magic wand. Don’t expect them to make a so-so image look fantastic. They are NOT a repair tool, they are a color matching tool intended to get the output to mimic the actual contents of your file. Also, profiles are made by reading the values of sampled output of less than 1/100th of a percent of the colors available in 24 bit RGB. That leaves the remaining 99.99% of colors to be guessed at by the software that uses the profiles. Expect an improvement in color approximation, not miracles. The most predictable results occur when the working space and the printer profile are close in gamut. Meaning a large gamut Ektaholmes or ProRGB will convert less dependably to a smaller gamut device.If you are finding unpredictable results when using profiling, you may wish to consider using a smaller working space such as Adobe 1998 for future images.
Test and test again if needed.
While the digital age and color profiles appear on the surface to make all things equal, the truth is that a master printer is still required to get a master level print. Profiles may speed up the initial proofing process, but the finer nuances of a great print require a trained eye and a master of the craft. It is a very rare set of conditions that will come together in perfect alignment to allow a glorious print to happen with the very first test. In my opinion, a fine art print should leave zero room for improvement in the print. If you can sit with the print for a couple of days and not find anything to change, congratulations. Print your finals. An artist with a critical eye will always be seeking to improve their product. An acceptable print could be called and art print. It takes more than acceptable to get the tag of “Fine”.
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Part 5: Getting to know you.