Post-Production Best Practices For Printed Artwork | Holly Lund
THE TECHNICAL SIDE OF POST-PRODUCTION
If you are new to printing, terms like color space, ICC profiles, and soft proofing are enough to make your head spin, but understanding their purpose is key to achieving stellar printed artwork. A color space is the gamut of the colors that are visible. The sRGB color space is a narrow gamut. However, it is frequently used for its consistency and it’s what is used on the internet. (Quick tip: Images shared online should be exported as sRGB!) A high percentage of labs use printers that are capable of printing images that are exported in the sRGB color space. Adobe RGB has a wider gamut of available colors; if a lab specifies that their printers read Adobe RGB, be sure to export in that color space to take advantage of its benefit. Lastly, you may have heard of ProPhoto RGB. This is currently the largest gamut of colors and arguably includes colors we cannot even see! Personally, I have my camera body set to shoot inAdobe RGB. I then edit my image inAdobe RGB and will export as sRGB when appropriate. One of my labs prints Adobe RGB and the other prints sRGB. I just have to remember to slow down and ensure I’m ticking off the right boxes during my exporting process. Some printers require that you also pay attention to 8 bit or 16 bit. This refers to the amount of tones available for each color. Without throwing mathematical equations at you, 8 bit means you will have 256 tones per color, and 16 bit equals 65,536 tones.
I knew that alone was enough to blow your mind.
16-bit files are going to be larger, and that doesn’t always mean better. If you are printing at home, your printer’s user guide should outline whether you should be in 8 bit or 16 bit. If your lab’s instructions don’t specify, reach out and ask! ICC printer profiles allow you to soft proof your image in Lightroom or Photoshop. To the best of their ability, they simulate how your image will appear from that printer’s output on certain papers. This will help you in making any final adjustments regarding luminance as well as color.
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