Yesterday I was making some prints on that new Ilford paper that I received but I wasn’t totally happy with the color in the prints. I downloaded the paper profiles from Ilford but it was still off a little from my monitor. I could have spent a little time tweking things but instead decided to make my own profiles using the X-Rite ColorMunki. ColorMunki is a little bit strange for a name but darned if it’s not the best monitor and printer profile system I have ever used. It’s also the simplest.
One of the great things about the ColorMunki is that it’s an all-in-one profiler, meaning it will fix your monitor as well as your prints. Here’s a quick rundown on how I used it to make a custom paper profile.
To start things off, I started by updating my monitor profile. When the software interface opens, you have the option of profiling your monitor, your printer, or in this case, both.
The monitor profiling is pretty darn easy. Once you have calibrated the Munki by rotating the sensor to the middle position and pressing the measure button, you hang it over your monitor and adjust its position so it covers the measurement rectangle. The device comes in a neoprene jacket that has a weighted tail that flips over the back of the monitor and holds it in place.
After running through a quick series of colored screens, the profile is complete and you simply save it. It automatically applies it so you are good to go. The next step involves creating a profile for your printer. Actually, what you are creating are individual profiles for each paper type that you use. Different papers react differently from each other with your printer’s inks so it’s important to create a profile for each paper type. In this instance, I was creating one for the Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk (a very nice paper indeed).
Once I selected my printer, created a name for the profile, and set my printer options (making sure the ICC Profile was turned off in the print settings), I proceeded to print the first measurement chart.
After giving the print ample time to dry (about 10 minutes) I used the Munki to measure each strip numbered 1 through 5. After reading the strips, the software had me create a second test print using a target with slighlty different colors. After drying I measured that one just like the first one.
Once it’s done analyzing my test prints, it creates the paper profile and lets me name it so that I can easily find it when getting ready to print from Lightroom or Photoshop.
In Lightroom, it’s very simple to find by just clicking on the profiles in the Color Management section and selecting the new profile. It won’t be in the list until you add it so when you click the profile drop-down, select Other and then find it in the list of profiles and add it by putting a checkmark next to it. The next time you go looking for it, it will show up in the list.
The ColorMunki is not a cheap endeavor at $449.00 but it is one of the best color management tools I have ever used. And if this was all it did, I would not be disappointed but there are other features that I didn’t even cover like projector calibration so you no longer have to say to your audience, “It looks much better on my monitor than it does on your screen.” It can also optimize your profile based on images for specific colors, black & white, flesh tones, etc. There’s also a great feature called AppSet that looks for your graphics programs and asks if you want your new profiles to be added for the programs. And if that’s not enough, it also has a feature that let’s you create custom color pallets from colors you see. It really is an amazing product.
You can find the ColorMunki at Amazon and B&H Photo and right now there is a $50 rebate that takes it down to about $399. I know it’s steep but the time you save by having a color consistent workflow makes it well worth the price. You should also save a lot of money in paper and ink by creating fewer test prints and more “first time” winners.