Adobe software colour profiles

Hey everyone, I have a question about colour profiles: what exactly are they, how do I access them and what is their use for printing?

This is possibly the dumbest question I’ve asked yet, but I’ve somehow missed this completely up until now.
Can anyone help me?


It depends on where in the world you are located and what you are doing with them.
The easiest answer is to ask your printer for Job Options that you can use to create PDFs with the correct profile for the vendor’s work flow.
What I might tell you might not work for the next guy and certainly not if I’m sending something to Europe or Asia.

For instance, for wide format in the US, we want native files, and the profiles US Web coated (SWOP)v2 and Adobe RGB(1998) are most common. But it’s always best to ask the printer. A lot of wide format shops want RGB photos for CMYK output simply because the machine conversions for the wide format extended inksets are so much better than conventional offset CMYK that the more color info in the file, the better the print will be (assuming you haven’t tried to change a saved CMYK image back into RGB. Once converted to CMYK, that RGB gamut info is lost forever. You can’t change it back.)

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Ok, I absolutely hate sites that request push notifications so I deleted that one.
Let me find another that gives a simple explanation…

Seriously??? The next three sites did the same thing and the 4th asked me to sign up to read.

Anyway, the simple version is, the profile is a translator.
It takes the color input and converts it to something the printer can output. Each machine and each paper/media has a different internal profile. Some are generic, like the US Web coated one is fairly universal in the US, but some print vendors opt to maximize their color potential so they will calibrate their machine profiles to produce far better color translations. A lot of those are proprietary, which is why job options are a good option.

If you’ve ever seen a color gamut chart that shows the RGB, sRGB and CMYK color gamuts, you can see the latter two have much smaller color output areas than RGB. So, if you are converting an RGB image to a CMYK print process, the color profile converts that RGB image into something the machine can render, to the best of the machine’s ability.
Here’s a gamut chart

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Thanks so much PrintDriver.
Another question: is there anything you don’t know???

Actually, another one (I’ve really stored up the questions over the past few weeks) what is this I hear about true base 13 fonts?
I googled it and all it came up with was “The True Base 13 Fonts are Courier, Helvetica, Times and Symbol.”
Surely there is more to them than that?!


And while I’m at it… Why do we need to embed fonts into a PDF? I thought PDFs were un-changeable and pretty well safe of having things become “missing” when going to print.

Yes, embedding fonts is essential in PDFs. It’s exactly why the PDF format was adopted, for the embedding of fonts.

Before PDF workflows, people had to send the artwork files, with all the images, and with all the fonts used, this caused unlawful sharing of fonts, images and other items.

By Adobe adopting the PDF they were able to agree the fonts in PDFs, which allows the printing of the font - which is their purposes for printed jobs.

This protects the font founders from their fonts being copied, and the user being a copyright infringer.

Some fonts, that are not commercial, known as free fonts, dont’ allow embedding of the font in PDFs, and you must buy a commercial license for them to be embedded.

I don’t know tomorrow’s lottery numbers…:upside_down_face:

Gotta say I don’t know (nor care) about “base 13” typefaces either. :wink: So few braincells left for useless trivia.

Embedding fonts in PDFs is for exactly the reason Smurf wrote. However, it is beyond me why licensing forbids hand-off to printers. That is their purpose in life. Seems kinda insulting to think a printer (that would be me) would copy-to-steal them.

On the subject of PDFs being changed we edit them all the time using either Acrobat or PitStop. But never without first consulting the client. Usually it’s a time issue, if bouncing back to the client means they lose their slot on press and their project will be late because of their fixable mistake. Some things can’t be fixed though. And being in wide format world, most of the stuff we receive is native and does require sending images and outlining your fonts. Usually these things are just one-offs, but on larger projects we do have to buy into a font license. Do me a favor, don’t use Freeware typefaces that are “not for commercial use.” Especially not for very large, as in multi-image, projects where having to change a typeface just before handoff to the printer is going to cost YOU a lot of money doing the redesign and YOUR project may be late because a. we can’t find the font creator to get a license, or b. they just are not for commercial use, period. Besides 25% or so of freeware font files don’t rip properly. Bad outline files = bad day for you.

Thanks guys! You all rock so much!!!

It’s been, probably 20 or 30 years since I’ve heard that term. What have you been reading?

Anyway, the first generation or two of PostScript RIPs, if I remember right, came with 13 fonts built right in, so, supposedly, there was no need to include them in files sent to the printer. This has not been true for, well, decades since RIPs have evolved, operating systems have changed, and there have been dozens of tweaks and modifications to the fonts themselves. For example, today you can’t count on the Helvetica you send to a commercial printer to be the same Helvetica that’s on your computer.

For what it’s worth, a RIP is a PostScript Image Processor. It’s the software/hardware that converts vector data to raster data at the resolution of whatever gadget is needing it — typically an output device, like a printer or plate/imagesetter.

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Thanks JustB. It was something I was reading once, I can’t remember what or when, but it was mentioned. I’ve been wondering what they were ever since.

And guess what folks! I was just given a list of questions every designer needs to know the answers to (which I don’t…at least not all of them) so now my questions can go on and on!

#1 What is the value of Style Guides and Style Sheets? (To be honest, I thought they were actually the same thing).
#2 Why is planning for the printing substrate size and for colour separation during the design stage important for the imposition stage?
#3 How do you correctly calibrate a scanner?

Thanks guys! You’ve all be so helpful and I really, really appreciate it!

RIP = Raster Image Processor. :wink:

Sounds like a test.

  1. Yes they are the same thing, unless someone split off a definition recently, which they are apt to do. Terminology is one thing that is apt to be different from state to state, country to country. I have to use a whole different set of descriptors when ordering from printers in NYC or in Texas or in Oregon.

  2. Yield. An not only with imposition. It is a huge pet peeve of mine in wide format because we have to have a trim border. That 48x96 sheet, because of trim, if your graphic is 24" x 48", and it HAS to be 24x48, I can only get 1 out of a 48x96, I have to blow an end off a 60x120 sheet to print your graphic. The reason, a 24x48 graphic with bleed and crop marks is 25x49!!!

  3. As far as I know, you don’t. You scan with color/gray bars and use your RIP to calibrate the output. But that’s probably old school?

Yes. Sometimes my hands type something different from what my brain is thinking. Or maybe it’s the other way around; I’m never sure. A mental RIP-to-output glitch, I suppose. :grin:

As PD mentioned, they can be the same thing depending on who’s saying them. However, I suspect you’re referring to written style guides and layout application or CSS stylesheets.

So if that’s the case, many companies adhere to a book (a style guide) that lists the various rules associated with the company’s visual branding (logo use, color combinations, etc.) or style books that standardize the company’s writing style — for example, the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style (we use the AP Stylebook for most things, by the way).

Stylesheets are different. In web design, for example, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a language used to style the appearance of how the structural data (the HTML) is displayed. In layout applications, like InDesign or QuarkXPress, stylesheets or styles are predetermined bits of formatting that can be applied to various content elements. For example, if you want all the text in a brochure to be 10/11 Helvetica Neue Regular with a one-pica first-line indent and no hyphenation, all of that can be reduced down to a stylesheet that can be stored and applied as needed to what you’re working on.

Taking into consideration how and on what something will be printed has a huge bearing on how one prepares the artwork. Why you’re specifically mentioning that in the context of imposition, though, is puzzling. Do you know what imposition means in printer jargon?

It sort of depends on the scanner. Scanners come with software (drivers) that control them. The hardware inside a scanner just does what it does, but the driver software typically has calibration controls (if you want to call them that) that enable you to adjust the scan being made to make up for differences in what’s being scanned or for, I suppose, the tendencies of the individual scanner to scan dark or light or too red or too blue or whatever. I’ve never thought of this as calibrating the scanner, though — it’s more like adjusting or calibrating the scan itself.

On #2, I’m hoping the question isn’t telling the designer to do the imposing.
It’s just important to know how the Printer is doing the imposing so you can set up your spread size accordingly.

The course I did so closely linked the designer to the print operator I thought it was the same thing, so relieved to hear it is not because I was totally thinking I’d never make a designer.

Thanks everyone for your help. I’ll post any other questions I have here–it’s so much better than trying to find the time to look up some designer’s blog that you have to subscribe to if you want questions answered. This forum rocks!

You do need to understand how imposition works even if you aren’t required to do it on a daily basis. The best advice for dealing with print, especially something you haven’t done before, is to contact the printer for a spec sheet before you begin designing, and ask questions if you don’t know what it means.

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