How To Color Calibrate Your Printer and Monitor

Since the early days of desktop publishing, photo editing, and graphic design, professionals, budding professionals, and hobbyists alike have had to deal with color shifts—seeing one color on a monitor but getting different results when the document, photograph, or artwork prints. Red fruit on a monitor, for instance, comes out orange, chartreuse, neon, or plastic-looking bright red.

Why? Well, the simplest answer is that monitors and printers see colors differently. In other words, they use different color models to produce the same hues. Monitors combine red, green, and blue (RGB) to display the colors you see, while most printers combine cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) to reproduce colors. Although it’s important to note that many photo printers may start with the basic CMYK process color model, they deploy as many as 12 ink colors. The more colors you tack on to your color model, the wider the range of colors (known as the color “gamut”) the device can reproduce, and the more difficult it becomes for monitors and printers to output matching colors.

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