Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions: Color Management
INFO: Color Management
Posted by admin on 04 November 2005 02:25 PM


Achieving consistent color output and good screen-to-print color matching is of key importance to most M-Color users. M-Color includes a new color management system that helps you to solve the traditional problems with color deviations between different monitors and printers.

This document is a step-by-step guide to improving your color output with M-Color, and does not attempt to explain the complex issues of color science. For more information on color management and reasons why colors often differ from device to device, see M-Color Help or the printed User’s Guide of M-Color.

Basic Level: No Calibration

Out of the box, M-Color improves color consistency by saving colors in a standardized, device-independent color space called sRGB, and by interpreting CMYK colors according to a color profile that describes the color behavior of a generic CMYK printer.

Basic level color management does not require you to have device-specific color profiles. It works well if the behavior of your monitors and printers is fairly close to the sRGB standard. If your printer was advertised as an "sRGB printer", you have good chances to get excellent color matching results with M-Color without any device-specific color profiles. However, some devices require a custom-made color profile before the color-matching results are satisfactory (see Professional Level).

Try basic level color management with your monitors and printers as follows:

  • Start M-Color Preview.
  • View the default style palette as an MCL file. (Click Manage Palettes on the Edit menu and ensure that the Default.pal style palette is open. Click Print Palette to save the style palette as an MCL file and close the Manage Palettes dialog box.)
  • Check your color management settings (click Color Management on the File menu). Ensure that color management is enabled. Activate the None profile for your monitor and printer unless you know for sure that you have color profiles that are really intended for your hardware. Using the None profile is much better than using a wrong profile. For example, using a color profile that is actually intended for a different device or media is likely to cause invalid adjustments to colors.
  • Print the style palette and compare the printed results to your screen display.
  • If you are not satisfied with the results, you can experiment with different settings, or move directly to Professional Level. If you decide to experiment with settings, you should try changing your printer driver’s quality and color options, as well as installing and activating printer color profiles that you may already have on your system (some printer drivers come with color profiles).


Professional Level: Calibrated Monitors and Printers

If basic-level color management does not produce satisfactory results with your monitors and printers, you need to obtain color profiles for your devices. Color profiles enable M-Color to compensate for device-specific differences in color output.

Printer profiles typically have more effect on color output than monitor profiles. However, it is impossible to say whether it is your monitor or your printer that is producing wrong colors (typically both of them are somewhat inaccurate). You cannot just assume that the color you see on screen is correct and the color you see on paper is wrong – you don’t actually know what the real color looks like! (For example, just adjusting the brightness and contrast of your monitor changes the on-screen colors.)

Ideally, you should calibrate your monitors and obtain color profiles for all of your printers. You may even need multiple color profiles for a single printer if you use different media types such as uncoated paper and glossy media.

Monitor Calibration

In order to reliably calibrate your monitor, you need an optical sensor that measures the colors that your monitor produces. We recommend the Spyder™ product from Datacolor. The Spyder device and its accompanying software calibrate your monitor and create an ICC color profile that enables M-Color to display accurate colors.

The Spyder is very affordable – it costs less than $200 and you can use it to calibrate any number of monitors. Contact DataColor’s web site at to get your Spyder.

Printer Calibration

The creation of a printer profile involves printing a few specialized test prints with your printer and sending them to a company that measures the prints and creates an ICC color profile for your printer. The typical cost of a printer color profile is $99. Contact to get your printer profiled.

One of the benefits of profiling your printer is that the ICC color profile tells M-Color the range of colors your printer can produce (= the gamut of your printer). Using this information, M-Color helps you to avoid color-matching problems by masking unprintable colors in the color definition dialog box.

Once you have calibrated your monitors and obtained color profiles for your printers, M-Color knows exactly how colors need to be adjusted for each of your devices and you can enjoy consistent, predictable color output.
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