Clive R. Haynes FRPS

One of the most frustrating things about any imaging program is the inability at times for the printed output to resemble what you see on the monitor screen.

We have all experienced this and it's very annoying - there it is, your masterpiece in all its glory on the screen and when printed, the colours are slightly different or there is a colour caste. What to do?

The good news is that something can be done. The bad news is that the same 'cure' will not work for everyone. And the other bad news is that papers vary from type to type, giving rise to changes in printed tone.

In order to have a good chance of printing what you see, I lay out some basic guidelines. These are based on my experience and those of a number of my colleagues.

What follows is based on using an Epson printer - I have a 1270 model so some of the dialogue boxes may be different to other models (let alone makes) but most Epson printers will follow much the same route.

I also suggest that as it's an Epson printer, you begin your tests with Epson paper (say, 'Glossy') as at least both paper and printer should be compatible!

Setting Your Monitor

The first thing to do is to make certain that your monitor is properly adjusted. Open the 'Adobe Gamma' program to do this. Adobe Gamma is usually to be found by this route, Start > Settings > Control Panel > Adobe Gamma.

Follow the Adobe Gamma 'wizard' instructions. Remember to set everything up under whatever 'normal' ambient lighting conditions you prefer. The light falling on the monitor screen will influence your colour set up.

When setting the Brightness & Contrast, do try to make the almost-dark square in the centre of the black square with the white border so it's just visible. To better adjust the 'single gamma' and Red, Green, Blue gamma settings, I find it best to be at arms length (and I'm 6'3" tall!) and squint slightly to diffuse the image - this way the squares and horizontal lines merge more successfully. To change from 'Single Gamma' to the Red, Blue Green Gamma, click in the small box to 'tick' or 'untick' as appropriate.

'Hardware whitepoint' is usually 6,500K (daylight).

If you choose 'Control Panel' (as opposed to 'Step by Step Wizard') in the initial Adobe Gamma dialogue box, you will find all options available at the same time. Note that the top, apparently solid black horizontal band, in the Brightness & Contract box does in fact have an almost black alternate pattern set within it. You'll need to look hard, however it takes the place of the black/white rectangle in the 'Wizard' instructions.

Colour Space

Set your Photoshop Colour Space to the favoured 'Bruce RGB' choice - see separate information about this. 

Printer Settings

When making the print the following printer settings are suggested.

Go to

File > Print

In the first dialogue box in the 'Space' box, click on the drop down arrow and choose (and here it depends upon your printer) for a 1270 'Bruce RGB' or possibly 'EPSON Stylus Pro 1270'.

If a 1520 printer then either the preferred 'Bruce RGB' or alternatively, 'EPSON StylusCOLOR1520 Glossy Film 1440' or the printer type/model YOU have (say EPSON StylusEX) or again, 'Bruce RGB'.

Print Quality = High.


Select 'Setup…' > Properties > Media Type > Choose 'Photo Quality Glossy Film'.

Make certain that you select 1440 dpi for best quality and that under Advanced / More Settings that 'ICM' is selected.

Choose 'Quality' rather than 'Speed'.

Select 'Custom'.

Click 'Advanced'

Print Quality: choose 1440 dpi

Color Management area - choose ICM

Once you've done all of this, the settings can be 'saved' via 'Save settings' - type in an appropriate name and it's all ready for next time when you go to Properties > Custom Settings: choose the one you saved.

My experience and that of my colleagues, suggests that all papers can be printed as 'Photo Quality Glossy Film' without any problem.

Making a Test Strip

To check your image before you print, select an appropriate area of your picture by using the rectangular marquee (remembering to merge/flatten your layers first). Or use the alternative method below.

Alternative: It may be convenient to merge to a new layer whilst keeping the other layers available. To do this go to Layer > Merge Visible AND hold down the Alt key - this creates a new layer merged from all those visible. Use this new layer for the test print. Delete the layer once it's done its job if you wish. In the History palette, the new layer is named 'Stamp Visible'.

Alternatively, copy the image by the File > Save a Copy route if you wish and experiment with changes here - flattening/merging/adjusting, etc.

Copy the rectangular area you selected and paste it to a new layer. Remember to 'switch off' the layer displaying the whole image - as you don't wish to print this just yet.

Print the small rectangular section as seen.

Should changes be required, make these and print again and again if you need to. Remember to move the image between each print, as you can use the same piece of paper to make successive prints for side-by-side comparisons.

When you are happy, return to the original image and make the changes (if any).

Commercial Alternatives

A useful tool for comparisons and adjustments is the 'Print Tuner' cd available from Creative Monochrome Ltd., Courtney House, 62 Jarvis Road, South Croydon, Surrey. CR2 6HU tel 020 8686 3282 - it costs around £20 and is most useful.

Nova also produce a disc that may be helpful in setting up. This is based on the stardard grey reference and oprerates like a 'ring-around' - this also costs around £20.

Nova Darkroom Equipment Limited Unit 1A, Harris Road, Wedgnock Industrial Estate, Warwick. CV34 5JU tel: 01926 403090. E-mail:

For More Information

For those wishing to delve deeper into the intricaces and mysteries of Colour Management and Printing What You See - I can thoroughly recommend this link to the site by Ian Lyons.

And Finally

As you experiment with different papers, corrections and adjustments are inevitable.