Tips for Synchronizing Color Settings in Adobe Applications
For best results, set up the same color settings in all Adobe applications that you will use in the course of a project. You can set up one of the applications first, and then synchronize color settings in the rest of the Adobe applications.
In the article, I showed how to set up Color Settings in Photoshop. When the Color Settings dialog is set up the way you want, click Save and give the settings file a unique name and a .csf file extension (for example, “Postcard.csf”). This custom settings file is saved in the correct location on your operating system by default. You can also add a comment in the next dialog, which will appear in the Description field in the Color Settings dialog when the custom setting is loaded. This will clue in your coworkers and clients if they copy and load the settings file in the Color Settings dialog on their computers.
Now you’re set to synchronize this setting across all applications in Adobe CS2. You can do this easily in Adobe Bridge, which is a part of CS2. Open Bridge and choose Edit > Creative Suite Color Settings. Select the custom color setting you saved previously and click Apply. If the custom setting does not show up in the list, click the Show Saved Color Settings Files icon.
If you’re using older versions of Adobe applications, you will need to load the custom color settings file manually. Launch each application you wish to synchronize, and choose Edit > Color Settings. Click the Load icon and select the custom color settings file you saved previously.
The saved color settings will now be used for your project across your workflow … which means that colors in your artwork will appear consistent on screen and when printed from all Adobe applications.
Color Correction on a Deadline
You already know how important color correction is in any color workflow. It’s crucial to use professional tools to edit contrast and color in your artwork because they produce superior results and minimal degradation in quality. However, you’ll need some ramp-up time to master the subtleties of using each of the professional tools. Here’s an easy technique to use when you’re pressed for time to quickly correct overall contrast and color in images. And best of all, you’ll use professional tools—so you’re assured of quality results.
This technique involves two steps. First, you’ll set up the tools to achieve your desired results. Then you can easily apply it on subsequent images by choosing a shortcut to achieve this result from a different location.
First, open a sample image and choose Image > Adjustments > Levels or Curves. It doesn’t matter which tool you choose, since both feature the same shortcut.
In either tool, click Options. You’ll see three choices: Enhance Monochromatic Contrast, Enhance Per Channel Contrast, and Find Dark & Light Colors. Each produces a certain contrast adjustment based on the contents of the RGB component channels for the image or layer that’s selected. Pick the option that renders the best contrast in your artwork.
Tip: For images that contain “memory colors” such as sky, green grass, etc., the Find Dark & Light Colors option does a fine job with Snap Neutrals Midtones checked. Furthermore, you can dial in the exact composition of the Target Shadow, Highlights, and Neutral Midtones in the image. Click each swatch and enter your chosen values. Here are some values, provided by Scott Kelby of the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals), that work very well: Enter R:20, G:20, B:20 for Target Shadow values; R:245, G:245, B:245 for Target Highlights; and R:133, G:133, B:133 for Target Neutral Midtones. Then check Save as Defaults and click OK. Click OK again to exit the tool dialog.
Now open another image with a similar problem. You’ll apply the shortcut from the Image > Adjustments menu. The three choices—Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color—correspond to the three options in the Options dialog in the Levels or Curves tool. For example, if you saved Find Dark & Light Colors as the default, then you’ll choose the Auto Color Command. It’s that easy! You may also type the shortcut for the command instead (Command/Control + Shift + B for Auto Color). You can even script the command in a custom action that’s applied to a folder-full of images. And for a highly automated production job, use the Batch command in the File > Automate menu to set up the custom action to correct images in true hands-off mode.
Clues to a Document Profile
To find clues about an image’s embedded profile, look at the title bar once you’ve opened the file.
A pound sign after the color mode means it is untagged (missing a profile).
An asterisk means the profile is different from the default working space (e.g., if you’re viewing a document saved with a scanner’s profile).
To quickly identify a document’s profile, click the arrow on the file information bar at the bottom of the document or application window in Photoshop, and choose Document Profile.
Tips for Effective File Management
In this workflow, it’s not unusual to end up with multiple copies of your artwork. This can include copies saved as important milestones in the workflow as a sort of “base camp” to manage changes. Other copies might be duplicates intended for different outputs. Either way, you’ll benefit by putting some form of file management in place to organize your creative assets.
Adobe offers a tidy solution to manage multiple versions of files for work groups—Version Cue, bundled with CS2 applications. There are other third-party solutions designed for specific creative workflows. At the very least invest in some large-capacity storage and backup, and establish some file organization and naming conventions so you can find and reuse artwork.
Some people find it helpful to organize every project in the following way:
- Create a master folder for each project.
- Create three separate subholders, titled Source Art, WIP (Work In Progress), and Final Art.
is used to store original scans, digital camera assets, and original art files. The WIP
folder is for layered files and base camp versions of art files that are being worked on. Final Art
houses flattened files that are completely prepped for various outputs.