Monitor Calibration: Why is Calibrating your Monitor Important?

Monitor calibration is very important when you are working with color images, especially in Photoshop. The problem is that what you see on your monitor and what is printed out can have a marked difference. There are standards for color spaces such as sRGB and CMYK. These color spaces covers a different “gamut” or color range and each has specific applications, such as sRGB for web images, CMYK for printing.

  • Your goal is to set your monitor to a color temperature of 6500K and gamma of 2.2.
  • Choose View > Proof colors to see it on your screen more accurately as a CMYK.
  • Your monitor is not a 100% representation of how your file will print.
  • Take the final printed piece and hold it up to your monitor, and make adjustments accordingly

Calibrating your Monitor

Mac and Windows both feature basic color calibration within the operating system. This is at a minimum a step in the right direction, but we suggest using a color calibration system such as the Datacolor Spyder4Pro S4P100 Colorimeter for Display Calibration ($149). This device These devices appear similar to a computer mouse, and hang from the top of your monitor while some software runs color calibration tests.

  • Make sure your monitor is on for at least an hour before calibrating.
  • Light reflects off of everything: You are working in a room with magenta walls…that reflects on your monitor. Different colors affect your perception of colors on your screen.
  • Your desktop color affects what you are seeing also. Your best bet is to use a neutral gray desktop.
  • Make sure no light is shining directly at the display.

Free Calibration

  • Windows: Go to your Start > Control Panel > Adobe Gamma
  • Mac: Apple > System Preferences > Display

Best Reasons to Calibrate

The issue is that no matter what you do, what you view on your monitor and what is printed are different. Color correcting by the numbers, which offers a foolproof method to get consistent, accurate color.

If you’re creating images for the web, it’s especially important to make sure your monitor is calibrated. If you ever get a call from a client saying “This file on the web is purple!” Your response could be “I calibrated my monitor yesterday, and my color is not purple, would you like me to show you how to calibrate your monitor so we are on the same page?”

Professional Calibration

There are a bunch of hardware/software solutions out there, such as the Spyder Pro. They range from $60-$250.

Color Correcting by the Numbers

In reality, when we color correct in Photohop we use a numerical system. This means that even if you monitor looks perfect…the numbers of shadow and highlight override what you see on screen.

That said, many of us are designing for the web. This means you should have the best possible color, and understand that many people may be viewing it on a monitor that is NOT calibrated. Your client may be up in arms that his logo looks purple, but on your monitor it looks perfect. It’s always best to make sure you are working with the best possible calibration, even if your audience is not.