What is color management

Color management is a process that lets you predict and control color reproduction, regardless of the source or destination of the image. For example, a monitor displays a different set of colors than a printer reproduces, so you may see colors on-screen that cannot be printed. If you want to reduce color discrepancies, you can use color management to ensure a more accurate color representation when an image is viewed, modified, or printed.

During the digital imaging process, different tools are used to capture, modify, and print images. In a typical workflow, you capture an image by using a digital camera, upload the image to a computer, modify the image in a photo-editing application, and print the image. Each of these tools has a different way of interpreting color. In addition, each has its own range of available colors, called a color space, which is a set of numbers that define how each color is represented. A color space is a subset of a color model (for example, CMYK or RGB). In other words, each tool speaks a unique language when it comes to color. One number in the color space of a digital camera may represent an entirely different color in the color space of a monitor. As a result, when an image moves through the workflow, the colors get lost in the translation and are not accurately reproduced. A color management system is designed to improve the communication of color in the workflow.

This is an example of a typical digital imaging workflow.

A color management system, also known as a color engine, uses color profiles to translate the color values from the source, which ensures a more accurate color reproduction at the destination. A color profile contains the data that the color management system requires to translate colors. Many standard color profiles are available. In addition, color profiles exist for different brands of monitors, scanners, digital cameras, and printers.

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