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What is an ICC profile?

Posted on 2010-09-09
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I am just told what to use and when but have never fully grasped why we need them.

Let's just stick with RGB profiles...the sRGB. What is the point of it? What does it do?

We have SHARP MX 2600 printer that works with this profile. There is a setting that says it simulates CMYK. I find this puzzling. After all, it was CMYK catridges.
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Question by:Jason210
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 33641808
Color profiles are used because different combinations of media and color sources don't produce the same results for the same inputs.  You can easily see that where they have a wall of TVs tuned to the same station.  Some look good and some look just wrong.  Color profiles are a way of matching colors across media and sources.

In general, RGB is for light producers like monitors and CMYK is for light reflectors like ink on paper.  Here's the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICC_profile
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by:Jason210
ID: 33643809
Let's suppose we have a scanner. It scans a document and it's electronics pick up varying amounts of blue, red and green. This is then displayed in Photoshop. In what way has a profile come into play here? What has it done to the orinal data from the the electronics?
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by:Jason210
ID: 33643819
Can I draw a parallel between a profile a a driver? One part of driver talks specifically to a machine, and is unique, while the other side of the driver provides standard information to windows...
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Dave Baldwin earned 500 total points
ID: 33643991
The driver isn't a good analogy.  There are color standards that have been created so that everyone can have the same way of measuring color and color accuracy.   Color profiles are made to adjust known differences in colors in devices to make it possible to reproduce the 'correct' colors.  Remember that RGB and CMYK refer to the colors used.  Color profiles should, for a particular device, tell you how to mix them to get the desired results.

To actually have that happen 'accurately', you would have to be able to calibrate the device to a known standard.  I know that there are calibration standards for monitors though most monitors aren't calibrated.  In professional situations like movies and print publications where colors have to be matched, they actually do calibrate the devices so what they do is 'reproducible'.  

I can tell that my monitors are not calibrated because I can see the differences in them.  My LCD montors are much more predictable than my old CRT monitors.  To go back to the wall of TVs in a store.  If you were able to 'calibrate' them to a single standard, in theory they would all look the same.  The pictures on LCD TVs these days are much more similar than in the days of CRT TVs.

Anyway, sRGB is the generic standard for display on monitors.  I actually had to help someone who used a different RGB profile figure out why his images looked dull on the web.  It turned out that he had set his JPEG images to use a color profile that worked well on his Apple monitor but was generally unsupported by anyone else.  Once he changed it to the regular sRGB profile it looked the same on all monitors.

Anyway, that's all from me.  There is a lot of info about color.  It's not a simple subject when you get into the fine details and trying to get the same color in different situations.
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by:Jason210
ID: 33857978
Thanks and sorry about the delay in replying.
It was good answer and helps me to understand why RBB profiles are easier than CMYK ones.
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