Custom Printer Profiles

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Today’s Question: Last week you talked about printer profiles for various papers. When a profile is not available for the paper and printer you’re using, is it possible to build one yourself?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is possible to build your own profiles if you have a tool that allows for this, such as the ColorMunki Photo from X-Rite (http://timgrey.me/photocolormunki). There are also a variety of companies and individuals offering custom printer profiling services if you prefer not to build your own profiles.

More Detail: Building a printer profile is relatively straightforward. You start by printing a specific image that includes a series of color swatches. You then “scan” the color swatches on that print using a spectrophotometer, which is a special device for measuring color precisely. The resulting information is used to build a custom profile for the specific printer, ink, and paper combination you used to print the image with the color swatches. That profile can then be used to produce highly accurate prints with that specific print setup.

You can also find various companies and individuals who will build profiles for you at a fixed fee (generally around $30 to $100 per profile). Many years ago I actually used to offer just such a service. Later I recommended a couple of service providers. However, the providers I recommended in the past no longer offer this service, and I prefer not to make recommendations for specific providers unless I have personally tested their services. However, an online search for “Custom Printer Profiles” will provide many options you can choose from.

And again, if you want to build your own printer profiles you can use a tool such as the ColorMunki Photo, which you can learn more about here:

http://timgrey.me/photocolormunki