Printing Services

Color Calibrate Your Monitor and Printer

Researched in February 2018

Lucis makes it easy to transform your pictures into art. The challenge is to create a print that matches what you see on your screen.

It is not straightforward to use an image you create using your RGB screen (meaning the monitor creates the image using Red, Green, and Blue light) to create a CMYK ink print (meaning the printer creates the image using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black ink) and have the two images closely resemble each other.

The first step is to color calibrate your monitor. When a monitor is color calibrated then an image looks the same on all color-calibrated monitors. So your image on the color-calibrated monitor at the printing service will look the same as it does on your monitor. The printing services has to accurately see what you want printed in order to accurately print that image. So calibrate your monitor and then see if you still like your images, or make adjustments.

Note: Even if you are not printing your work, if you color calibrate your monitor and post images then anyone looking at your images online will see what you see if they also are using a color calibrated display. 

A color calibration tool will most accurately calibrate your monitor (scroll down to see recommendations). Windows and Mac OS have built-in display calibration tools and there are some web-based display calibration tools, but that is not recommended.

Next the printer must be calibrated so what prints matches what is on the screen. The printing service will have calibrated their printers so what appears on the screen closely resembles the picture that is printed. Therefore all you need to do is color calibrate your monitor and choose a printing service that produces high-quality images.

If you have your own printer, you can use a printer calibration tool to create profiles that accurately adjust your printer so what appears on your screen matches the print. You would have to color calibrate your printer (meaning create a profile) for every printer setting you use- the printing resolution, the kind of ink and the type of paper. When you want to print your image, you have to select the profile that matches the media and printer settings you are using. Creating the printer profiles is time consuming, and you will be limited to the paper size and media your printer handles.

Printing services print on all kinds of media, from various types of paper to canvas to metal. We have a created a list of quality printing services, meaning they produce color-accurate prints. Printers like Snapfish and Walmart will be less expensive but will not closely match the colors in your images.

If you are calibrating your monitor and printer, it is less expensive to buy a bundled product that handles both.

Monitor and Printer Color Calibration Products

Datacolor
Just for your monitor- Spyder5PRO $190. Just for your printer- SpyderPRINT $350. To calibrate your monitor and your printer- Spyder5STUDIO $500.

X-Rite (Pantone)

ColorMunki- a simpler-to-use system: Just for the display- ColorMunki Display- $170. Calibrates camera, display, projector and printer- ColorMunki Photo. $460.

i1 Studio- full control:  Calibrates everything from your monitor to you mobile device to your scanner and printer- i1 Studio $490.