Profiling a printer is a requirement if you want to get correct colour prints. Just like a picture looks different depending on the type of light you look at it under (or under no light and you can’t see the picture), the ink in your printer will produce different results depending on the type of paper you use. Even if you use paper supplied by the printer manufacturer and select their recommended print settings – although you should get ‘reasonable’ results – it will not be perfect.
To read more about how light effects viewing an image, read our previous post
Each printer off the production line will vary slightly, and different room conditions (temperature and humidity) will affect how the printer ink and paper react – resulting in colour variations. A printer also changes with time – not just winter to summer depending on the conditions, but through wear and tear and variations in the consumables.
So the way to control all this is by making profiles for your printer – one for each paper type and with a reasonably stable printer, they should be remade every 1-2 months – or more frequently if there is a noticeable change which could be caused by one of many factors.
There are two entry-level instruments available; the Color Munki (from X-Rite/Pantone) and the Spyder Print (from Data Colour). Moving up a level, there is the i1 Pro instrument (from X-Rite).
The Color Munki instruments will let you calibrate printers as well as monitors. They come with software for doing all sorts of other things with colour also, so it is a product that you could end up benefiting from using more frequently than just once a month for calibration.
If you are printing your own pictures, it’s worthwhile considering a Color Munki to calibrate both your monitor and printer. Otherwise with just a monitor calibrator I expect it will be frustrating knowing that your pictures will look correct on-screen but you are having to make them look wrong and waste time, ink and paper on getting a print to look like you originally had on your correct monitor.
With both your monitor and printer calibrated, you will know images on your screen are colour correct. Furthermore, when you go to print, you can select the profile you made for the chosen paper type and the computer will adjust the image data within the printing process configuring the printer/paper profile to produce a colour correct image in print.
If you have any other questions about printer profiling, get in touch or comment below and we’ll answer them.