Hard Proof via Print With Preview

Jan 29, 2005
This is about special use of Photoshop dialogue "Print with Preview".

Sometimes you need to prepare a file to be printed on a remote printer, and you want to know how it will come up, using your own printer as a proofing device to simulate the remote printer. All you know about that remote printer is the profile they are going to use to print your job.

Similar, if you created a profile for somebodies' printer, you may want to see how it works, using your own printer as a simulation device.

In short, these notes are about simulating one printer on another printer, using "Print with Preview" in Photoshop. It is called "Hard Proof".

I use 16-bit Lab images for all proofing purposes, to save some round-trip conversions that may negatively affect print quality and matching.

Pre-requisit is to check your Color Settings in Photoshop (under Edit menu, or Shift-Ctrl-K shortcut to activate the dialogue). If you have something but Colorimetric intent in "Conversion Options" under "Intent" drop-down, the thing is not going to work. It is a "feature". Recommended setting of Conversion Options for Intent drop-down is Relative Colorimetric. You won't see that drop-down unless you press "More Options" button.

First, you need to setup softproofing for simulation of the "foreign" printer. It can be printing house, or large format printer for which you have a profile, or some friends' printer which you just profiled and want to check how actually good the profile is.

I'm going to print on a commercial press that follows ISO Coated v.2 ECI profile closely (they calibrate presses and CTP /computer-to-plate/ device to conform to this standard; it is much more consistent then to use custom profiles for press runs), so this is the profile I choose as simulating output conditions on the destination remote printer. The Custom Proof setup includes the device to simulate, rendering intent (shall be Relative Colorimetric for this purpose), Black Point Compensation "ON", both Simulate Paper Color (I shall use SPW abbreviation, "simulate paper white") - and Simulate Black Ink "OFF". If you are proofing an "RGB" colour printer or "CMYK" colour printer having the image not in Lab, but in RGB colour space or CMYK colour space respectively - the "Preserve Numbers" checkbox will not be greyed out. Do not check it, because you want to proof conversions through profile, not assigning profiles. You can see I saved the setup using Zeros and Ones to indicate which settings are on, and which are off. 0PN means '"Preserve Numbers" unchecked', and so on. I do not use profile name, instead I use the name of the press house, here it is RMaster. This is a special softproof setup, needed for hardproofing. For softproofing per se the setup is of course RMaster_0PN_1BPC_1SPW_1SBI. The difference is because of another "feature".

Here is the screenshot of softproofing setup that I need for hardproofing:

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Next, it is File - Print with Preview dialogue, and make sure "More Options" is active, have "Color Management" in the drop-down under the preview itself, check "Proof", Color Handling drop-down: "Let Photoshop Determine Colors" (means printer driver will have colour management switched OFF), set the profile of the actual printer in Printer Profile drop-down, rendering intent drop-down should read "Relative Colorimetric" and appear greyed-out (if not, see Pre-requisit); Proof Setup Preset drop-down should be to that "special" softproofing we created above; and finally, SPW and SBI should be checked.

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Print, and if both printer profiles are reasonably good you (or your friend) will not be disappointed with the output from the remote printer.

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