How to Prepare Your Photos for Printing

If you’ve ever printed a photo directly from your computer to your printer, you might have been surprised to find out that the color in the images didn’t quite match what you saw on your monitor. Getting an accurate output on your printer (or on a third party print press) can be tricky at best. Luckily, there are pros out there who can help us out. In the video below, photographer Michael Woloszynowicz walks us through the detailed steps of getting your images ready for print:

Getting an accurate print might seem like a complicated process–your monitor uses a different color space (RGB or sRGB) than your printer (CMYK) and this needs to be converted correctly. And to add further complexity, there are numerous different types of paper to choose from, each yielding a different result. This is where ICC profiles and color management systems come in.

ICC Profiles

An ICC (International Color Consortium) profiles allow us to tell the color management system (built into Photoshop) how we want the color to be managed. It describes the properties of the color space for that device, the range of colors (gamut) that a monitor can display and a printer can output. That’s why it’s important to know how to both input and apply the proper ICC profiles in Photoshop.

How to approximate your borders

True to form, Photoshop offers about a gazillion option for getting your printing output just right. That means that if you’re a beginner, it might take you a lot of trial and error to get your settings right where you want them to be. If you’re using your own printer, Woloszynowicz suggests starting with a smaller size paper for your proofs (e.g. 4×6) so that you don’t end up wasting too much ink and expensive paper.

Adding Grain

Toward the end of the video, Woloszynowicz talks about adding grain to your images. If you’re like me, you were probably wondering why. Well, it turns out that adding grain helps to prevent banding in the gradients—something that would seem especially important in ink jet printers.

Have any other tips for getting images ready for print? Let us know.

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