What are color profiles and how to work with them

The screen image is a set of pixels, each of which has a corresponding value in the RGB system. However, it is not a fact that the shades will be transmitted equally on two different devices. And in addition to the screen, there are other media – paper, banner, TV and more. All these nuances are related to the color profile, and I will talk about it in this article.

Color profile is…

A color profile is a set of data that describes information about the coverage of colors when entering or outputting them on various devices, such as smartphones, printers, scanners, and so on. The standards for this process have been set by the International Color Consortium, so it is also called the ICC profile.

Why do you need it

Any color model is used to standardize the approach to color determination. And this is done by defining for each pixel specific points in the coordinate system on three color channels – red, green and blue (RGB), similar to the three types of receptors in the human eye. I have already told about it earlier.

Coordinates in digital format are stored as a set of bits and bytes. And when playing them on the screen, a person can more accurately interpret the original shades.

In general, by simulating different profiles on one device, you can understand how the image will be displayed on other screens or when printing. This opportunity is used by designers, photographers, illustrators, as well as all those who are involved in one way or another in the work of photography, graphics and printing.

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Nuances in working with colored profiles

What happens on two different devices? Let’s say you took a photo on your phone, it was saved in one color profile. If you then transfer it to a laptop, TV or other manufacturer’s phone, some shades will be displayed differently. And if you print, you will get something else. And all because of the difference in profiles and points on the coordinate systems.

To avoid this, manufacturers are trying to adapt the equipment to a single model of image reproduction. For example, if it’s a screen, we take sRGB, and if it’s a printer, then CMYK.

And still there is a technical point – on different screens the level of brightness and transmission of shades of LEDs differs. Even if the profile is set the same, the differences are still noticeable. And if we talk about printing, then there is still the matter as the ink and the type of paper taken.

At the same time, if you change the profile, the original colors will remain the same. The points located on the coordinate system will not change their position, only the way they are displayed will change.

The difference between different color profiles

The image above left shows the color coverage of the human eye, and it has a relatively wide range. On the right are examples of how different color profiles are covered in relation to it.


First of all, color profiles help designers work. For example, if a person has a screen with a wider range of colors, he can see what a particular shade will look like on a less detailed device. This is especially important in printing, when the final result is influenced by the possibilities of printing – so you can see how the printout will turn out without resorting to the method of trial and error. Also, these features are useful when editing images, when there is a need for more detail, color correction and retouching.

Adobe, Apple RGB and sRGB

Adobe RGB, Apple RGB and sRGB

If you embed a profile in a file, it will not depend on hardware capabilities, and color data will remain the same when opened and edited on any technique.

How to use color profiles

Depending on what you do, you can use different methods to achieve the best result. For example, if you are taking a photo for printing or printing, set the camera to save the pictures in RAW format.

If you are taking photos to save and view photos on your computer, you are not going to edit them, you can immediately set up saving in sRGB format. This way, the shades will be transmitted as correctly as possible and will not be distorted if you, say, download them to the Internet.

In Adobe Photoshop, you can convert one image to different profiles and feel the difference. For example, when opening the editor offers to choose one of the options.

How to choose a color profile in Photoshop when opening a file

Then you can make transformations in the settings. All you have to do is go to the “Edit” menu and then select “Convert to profile”. All you have to do is select the target space to convert and click OK.

How to change the color profile in Photoshop

I have everything on this. I hope you understand the basic features of color profiles!

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