Above you'll see the link to download CorelDRAW color management books, it's 3 books covering X4 and earlier versions and all the way to X8 which is still perfect for 2020 except the dialogs have been rearrranged. The X4 book contains a great deal of color management theory that works for all applications and platforms.
When talking color management for imaging or as far as that goes all digital graphics, it's not, if you'll use color management, it's, you'll use color management or it will use you! That's a fact. If you want to bypass all the, this is what and why it happened stuff, scroll down to the First Course of Color Management.
What, why and how?
The real bite, whether it's MAC or PC non postscript printing rasterizes all program data to the OS color space or in more sophisticated applications an assigned RGB color space then prints it. Postscript devices rasterize data to assigned color tags. Remember this, it's a killer! Why? Because black in CMYK that's C 0, M 0, Y 0, & K 100 prints gray in the non postscript world unless the application is told to do something else and doing that will screw something else up!
The land of color before the ICC! Every software publsher assumed an RGB color space based on what ever the Operating System publisher assumed, or not, or they used a color space of their own and the world was chaos. Then lucky for us Microsoft and Hewlett packard basically said here is the standard RGB and we got sRGB. YEA! Or maybe not! In any case, we have it and to this day any untagged RGB color space is assumed to be sRGB in nearly every environment.
Now begins the tale of the coordinated assumed RGB color space that saved us all, except that it didn't, some companies for some reason or another didn't play well with that process either. Just like they didn't play well before the process. Again chaos!
LO and BEHOLD, then came the ICC International Color Consortium, our world was saved and all was clear and easy, except that it wasn't! What we did get (which was alot better) is an international agreement on a system of defined and tagged (labels for files) color spaces, how to handle them in the postscript and the non postscript world.
Along with that we got color engines to do conversions, color models (RGB, CMYK, LAB and Grayscale + a few others), color spaces that exist inside the color models, ICC Profiles to define color parameters within the color models and 4 rendering intents. Absolute colorimetric, Relative colorimetric, Saturation and Perceptual, that tell the color engine how to handle the conversion between the ICC profiles.
Yea! Almost! In the process of developing hardware and the software to develop ICC profiles at that time kind of screwed up some of all three.
First, and this is a permanent fly in the ointment, not all software applications or operating systems support all the same color engines and this can and does introduce differences between conversions in different applications and different operating systems when using different color engines. Not awful but certainly something to note as the differences in some situations can be seen especially when creating graphics that have to match a background from another application or platform.
Second, this has been an on going issue and I never see it being resolved by anyone but the end user. People belive relative colormetric rendering is the best and in my opinion they think that because Adobe uses it as its default setting. Except they don't. What happened is that Adobe created a non ICC compliant addition to a rendering intent and made it the default for their applications. It's Relative Colorimetric with Black Point Compensation (BPC) activated, and it is NOT relative colorimetric rendering. Even though it's no longer needed, it exists to this day and most likely will forever.
As best as I could find this was done because of some malformed profiles specifically those set to default preceptual rendering and older RGB profiles that did not properly identify their black point. At the time this made using perceptual rendering dubious as some profiles were funky and BPC did not work with perceptual rendering so they set relative colorimetric as default with BPC activated.
For the average user one can consider that relative colorimetric with BPC activated as a mimic of perceptual rendering as conversions done both ways are visually nearly indistinguishable from one another. However they are different and enough to matter in some situations so I never use it. Specifically graphics with backgrounds created from multiple application sources.
Now the rub because most users think that Adobe uses relative colorimetric EVERYONE thinks it the cats meow! The skinny is that relative colorimetric was created for print, it's good at converting color spaces that are equal in size or very close to being equal in size. I read on the ICC site a few months ago that their technicians considered relative colorimetric useless without BPC on and they believe that perceptual rendering was the rendering intent to use. In fact most ICC profiles set perceptual as their defualt rendering inside the profile.
I gave you a link on this page to download my books, 60 MB download, the definitions for rendering intents are in there. Read them if you want, everything you need to know is in there. Read them multiple times everyone does before they really get their meaning.
Converting big color spaces into small color spaces.
Perceptual rendering, (color space conversions are about making something big fit into something small and be recognizable), that's the perceptual rendering conversion definition printed in the imaginary book, The book that is too stupid to be called color management for dummies book. Believe me we're all there many times before we grasp the concept.
Simply put (really over simplified) imagine a huge person (a big color space) converted into a smaller person (smaller color space). Perceptual rendering keeps all the subtle differences of the bodies shape and makes them smaller so you perceive them properly in relation to one another the same person but a smaller version of the big person. That's perceptual rendering really over simplified.
Relative colorimetric with BPC off simply cuts that huge person (big color space) into a rectangle and smashes the parts that are outside the smaller person (small color space) to fit into that rectangle it really becomes, many nuances lost and fewer retained. In an over simplified manner that's how relative colorimetric rendering works. It can and is very ugly sometimes.
Then as history went forward in the postscript world they also developed Device N color space, that's spot color for printing like Pantone inks or what ever directly in the RIPPED file without converting to a channel color. Forget that concept completely in the non postscript world.
Let us not forget soft proofing. That's where you set the application up to display color like something else. READ THE BOOKS!
Well all that was history, given to you so now maybe you can understand the reasons for doing what you'll do if and when you decide to do something. Like it or not you'll do something or something will be done to you!
The First Course of Color Management.
Custom Camera Color Profiles.
I've been creating color profiles for over 15 years, when I first got into creating profiles I was prepared for a steep learning curve and it was a very steep and very expensive curve for a small company such as mine.
Clearly I want you to know that learning to make proper custom color profiles for display, or print media is tough, the learning curve is the El Capitan of the graphic technology world.
To explain what's really happening in the real world, after I learned how to create profiles I was on site at a print shop getting a job printed and their proof printer manufacturers representative was on site to calibrate their proofing printer.
I know for a fact that the ink manufacturer for their proof printer that is used used globally for proofing by many printers has written in their ink specification that their test prints need to be printed and the print to be allowed to gass out (dry in open air) for 24 hours before reading the results and creating a profile. The technician ran a print and within 20 minutes read the results on his scanner created a profile within a half an hour and out the door he went. That's the way it's being done in many places.
I spent over $18,000 in equipment and well over 2,000 hours learning the art of making color profiles. The value of the lost productive billing time was over $150,000 alone. It did pay off, I make and have made a good profit from making color profiles.
With all this said I DO NOT MAKE CUSTOM CAMERA ICC PROFILES!!!
This is why! The camera manufacturers have invested tens of millions into their research and development as well as tens of millions of dollars into specialized equipment and software development for color processing.
Nikon has revenues of 5 Billion Dollars, Canon is even bigger at 8 Billion Dollars there's no way to even consider that a smaller investment into color theory and practical application is going to make your cameras color profile an improvement against that kind of effort. In my opinion if you want better color from your images set your studio up properly, learn to use natural and studio lighting, learn how your camera works and shoot RAW.
Color management and applications.
Applications exist in basically 2 different worlds, except that there's really 4.
Application Color Management.
This is when the application has color management settings set inside it and all imported or opened files must conform to the application settings.
The scenario goes like this.
1 the file you are opening color management settings are tagged (labeled) the same as the application and the file opens properly. If you import content into a file it will be unchanged in the open document.
2 the file you are opening has color management settings that are different from the application and are untagged (not labeled ) so the file opens and the applications assumes the color space matches the application and you can get a display that's maybe VERY INTERESTING or maybe the color settings are the same and it opens properly. Untagged content imported into a document will assume the applications color settings. The problem with application based color management is that fixing the issue is very time consuming.
3 the file your are opening color settings are different then the application but are tagged and are automatically converted to the applications color space. The same process applies to imported content.
In general, application colormanaged applications can be set to warn you of these conflicts, unfortunately to avoid changing the files color space you have to close that file, change the color space of the application, shut the application down, restart the application then open the file again. Major interruptions to maintian color integrity and a PITA!
Document level color management.
This process is where the application has base color management settings because all applications require them to function in the operating system. However, the application honors (sees and uses for all functions) the color settings of files it is opening and or importing without having to change anything in the application.
The scenario goes like this.
1 you open a file the file color settings are tagged as the same as the application, the file opens correctly, in the case where you're importing content into an already opened document as long as the imported files color setting are the same it imports properly.
1A, the difference between the 2 processes is that you can open a file in a docment color managed application that DOES NOT MATCH THE APPLICATION and view and edit it properly. You can then import content that is color tagged into the document regardless if it matches the document or the application color settings and convert it to the documents color settings on the fly.
1B, in some applications like CorelDRAW or Photoshop you can do color conversions of data in the document that will properly follow the documents color settings even though the applications color settings are different.
2 the file you are opening color management settings are different from the application and are untagged (not labeled so the applications does not know what color space it's in) so the file opens and the applications assumes the color space matches and you can get something VERY INTERESTING or maybe the color settings are the same and it opens properly. Untagged content imported into a document will assume the applications color settings. Same as application based except read below.
2A the difference between the 2 processes is that in document colormanaged applications you can assign the imported content the documents color settings or assign different color setting and then convert to the document color setting on the fly. Several attempts can be done if needed to get a good result.
3 the file your are opening color settings are different from the application but it is tagged, then it is automatically converted to the applications color space. The same process applies to imported content.
In general document colormanaged applications can be set to warn you of these conflicts and you can convert documents color settings on the fly by changing the application color setting without having to shut it down or restarting.
The intuative difference in a document level color managed application is that properly tagged content can be worked on in a fluid manner with miniml interruptions with absolute color integity.
Now the third type of application is when the working environment for the user exists in only one color model at a time, RGB or CMYK. They may also allow grayscale and Device N color, depending on if the default model is RGB or CMYK. These application may be application colormanagemet or document level colormanaged)
The fourth type of application operates like CorelDRAW, it working environment allows you to properly create content in the RGB, grayscale, CMYK and Device N color simultaneously with proofing capabilities to one color model.
I have all my applications warn me of missing and mismatched profiles and ask me to choose what to do.
The Second Course of Color Management.
How to handle all this? In reality it's far more simple then it sounds because for the most part the default settings have been handled for you.
For my own use, I do change all rendering intents to percceptual. However the better and more controlled the working environment the better the work can be. I've given you a link on this page to down load my color management books, instructions are in the books for a proper work environment.
1st thing to remember is that color management has near zero to do with what computer platform or application that you're using. ICC color management is a platform, it's an application independent core technology that exists on its own.
2nd, understand what it is that you want to do with your graphic. Is it going to be web, office display and office print? Then stick with sRGB and do nothing, (except change the rendering intent to perceptual) almost every application in graphics world has default settings to do exactly that type of work. Also working in that environment 99.999% of everything you'll see is sRGB.
If its a graphic design print environment set the applications to your regional preset press settings, (except change the rendering intent to perceptual) they are included with every professional level graphics applications such as Adobe and Corel.
Also set the application to warn you of missing or mismatched profiles. Convert the mismatched profiles and allow assignment of the document profile to the files with missing profiles. If asignment is really ugly that's a more detailed solution and you can find the information in the afore mentioned books. Just remember the dialogs may be different for the applications but the actions will be the same.
Photography can be easy, for JPG or TIF camera output, set the RGB profile to match your camera and the rendering intent to perceptual. If you take in other photographers work your default settings should convert to your settings automatically.
Professional image editing and output, the surf and turf of graphics.
This is a matter of first understanding that just because you've been getting paid to do something does not mean that you stop trying to improve. Below is what I do, read it and think of it what you will.
I wrote in my first book that color management is like a mosaic,the more parts you put into place the more of the picture you'll see. This applies to image editing to the same degree.
Many years ago the printing industry spent 1.3 million dollars testing viewing environments I suggest you use that knowledge. A neutral gray application work space, the same for interior work environment, lit with 5,000 kelvin lighting, defused to eliminate glare on your dsiplay and heavy shades to block sunlight from the windows.
I work in an environment where I may receive hundreds if not thousands of images in a week, they may come from a multitude of sources and be from a multitude of different color spaces.
I use a mix of application and document color managed aplications, all are set to perceptual rendering, all are set to warn me of missing or mismatched profiles. I also use a mix of stand alone filter applications that are uncolor managed.
All image editors are set to Prophoto RGB, 2.2 gamma grayscale and a Kodak TIC 360 CMYK profile. Illustration and page layout applications are set to Adobe RGB, 2.2 gamma grayscale and a Kodak TIC 360 CMYK profile.
All clients images are archived unchanged, all images including the CMYK images are opened and converted to Prophoto RGB in a document color managed image editor then saved as TIF files. Files with missing profiles are assigned different source profiles until one is found that is pleasent and converted to Prophoto RGB.
All client RAW files are archived unchanged and then processed to 16 bit Prohoto RGB tif files.
This allows all images to move freely between the color managed applications maintaining their tagged profiles and also into the un color managed filter applications without losing color integrity. Retagging the profiles to the images is automatic once they return to a color managed application.
Images for RGB output will be automatically coverted to Adobe RGB when imported into the output application. Images for CMYK output will be converted manually in an image editor only and saved as a CMYK version before being imported into the page layout application. All output is handled by PDF.
RGB Image Output Only.
This is a profession that is complicated but once mastered a very near Adobe RGB output can be achieved from quality 8 color RIP driven ink jet devices.
All RGB images must be converted to a regional RGB, (U.S., Adobe RGB, Europe, ECI RGB) what ever it is for your global location, 8 bit per channel 24 bit total.
For PDF output embed the image profile into the PDF with a resolution setting required for output, consult the output provider. Make sure the output provider has their RIP set to assume your RGB color space or to honor the embedded profile if it's capable in PDF mode. Most RIPs are not capable of honoring embedded profiles in PDF.
For TIF output embed the image profile into the file with a resolution setting required for output, consult the output provider. Make sure the output provider has their RIP set to assume your RGB color space or honor the embedded profile in TIF files.
Most ink jet RIPs use only an assumed color space for PDF output but will only honor profiles in TIF files if told to do so.