Part 3: Setting Up for Soft Proofing in Adobe® Photoshop®

This tutorial is a continuation of my last tutorial "Part 2: Introduction to Color Proofing: Uploading the Stratasys Color Profile". It will demonstrate how to How to Use Adobe® Photoshop® to simulate how colors selected on screen will print on the J750 and how to adjust your input color if required.

  1. Step 1: Introduction

    In our previous tutorials (part1, part 2) on color proofing, we defined the various types of color proofing and how to upload the Stratasys color profile to Adobe® Photoshop®.

    The next step is soft proofing. As we mentioned, soft proofing is when you simulate on screen what the end color is going to look like. It is the fastest and cheapest way to proof colors so we recommend soft proofing before moving on to hard proofing.

    In this tutorial, we will demonstrate how to set up a soft proofing workspace on Adobe Photoshop.

    We will do this by opening a document in Adobe Photoshop and painting it in the RGB color you want to print. Right next to that document, we will set up another document with the exact same RGB color however this will have the Stratasys CMYK profile applied, so that the colors will be remapped to CMYK. This will show a close approximation for how the colors will be printed.

    In this case, the colors will be remapped to the Stratasys color profile that we showed how to install in the previous tutorial. If you were not able to install the Stratasys profile, you can still follow the process demonstrated in this tutorial using a generic CMYK profile. However the results will not be as accurate. 

    Before starting, we will remind you how to switch between absolute rendering and relative rendering intents within the Stratasys profile, so you can see if that helps you nail down an elusive color.

    Many color super freaks will also consider color calibrating their monitor to make sure it’s showing colors correctly. You can use a color calibration tool like ColorMunki™ from X-Rite®. 

  2. Step 2: Lets Get Started

    1) Open Adobe Photoshop and choose your document settings. We recommend 1000x1000 pixels with a resolution of 72 DPI.

    2)    Before beginning the proofing process, we recommend starting with the rendering intent on Absolute. You do this as follows:

    a)     Select View > Proof Setup > Custom

    b)     Set Rendering Intent at Absolute Colorimetric.

    c)    Make sure that Simulate Black Ink is selected.

    Note: You can try the Relative Colorimetric rendering intent to see if that gives you better results.

    3)    From the side toolbar, select the Set foreground color tool.

    4)    In the window that appears, input the color you want to print using one of the following color spaces:

    ·       RGB

    ·       CMYK

    ·       Lab

    ·       HSB

    ·       Hex Value

    If you have a Pantone® color:

    a.     Click the Color Libraries button.

    b.     Ensure that the Pantone+ Solid Coated is selected in the Book field.

    c.     Type in your desired pantone

    d. Ensure it is selected in the list

    e. Click OK.

    5)    Select the Paint Bucket tool.

    6)    Click on the white box on the screen to color.

    This is your RGB color simulated on screen.

  3. Step 3: How Will The Color Look In CMYK & RGB

    1)    Press Ctrl + Y on the keyboard. This will remap the color between RGB and CMYK. 

    This keyboard combination activates the selected Stratasys color profile defined in the last tutorial (part2), rather than just the generic CMYK color gamut. This gives you a much more accurate representation of the color you can expect to print on the J750.

    2)    Continue pressing Ctrl + Y as many times as desired to proof and unproof the RGB color.


  4. Step 4: View The Proofed & Non-Proofed Colors Side by Side

    To view the proofed and non-proofed colors side by side:

    1) click the tab containing the current workplane and drag it into the center of the screen to undock the window.

    2)    Select File > New to create a new document.

    3)    Input the same document settings of 1000x 1000 pixels, 72 DPI resolution.


    4)     Click Create

    The new blank document opens in a new tab next to the previous document (still undocked from step 2).

    5)    Drag the newly created window out to the main body of the workspace, so that it is next to the first document.

    You should now be able to see the two workspaces in one window.

    6)    Color the second workspace by repeating "Step 2: Lets Get Started":

    a)     Set the foreground color.

    b)    In the window that appears, select the same color that was previously selected. It will be stored by Adobe Photoshop.

    c)      Ensure that the Paint Bucket tool is still selected and click on the newly created second window.

    7) To arrange the two windows side by side, from the top toolbar select Window > Arrange > 2- up vertical.

    8)    Click on each window and press Ctrl + 1 to zoom to fit.

    9)    Make sure that one window has the Stratasys color profile activated and that the other does not. If that is not the case, select one of the windows and press Ctrl +Y to activate or deactivate the Stratasys color profile.

  5. Step 5: Conclusion

    So, what is going on? The RGB window displays the color before rendering while the J750 window displays the color after rendering.

    You have now successfully taken your RGB color, proofed it to CMYK, and displayed the two versions side by side for comparison.

    This is the basic setup for soft proofing. The next step is getting the CMYK color to be printed to match the desired, on-screen RGB color. This can be done by various soft proofing methods, which will be covered in our next color proofing tutorial.

    These methods will enable you to identify colors that are critical for your design in RGB that may not translate the way you anticipated to CMYK. We will also include some techniques to adjust your starting color so it can more closely match your desired color.

    Was this process clear and easy to follow? Let us know if anything didn’t go smoothly in the comments below.