Print workflow: practice and adjustment / out of gamuts

In a previous post, I said that I would try out the approach of editing the ‘print proof’ in the same colour space as its intended output. The idea being that it would require little further adjustment when it came to printer output. I put this into practice with one print, using a proofing paper and three different test papers. I found that the approach didn’t work efficiently for me in practice. The main drawback was that I often output to different media (including screen and paper types) – this resulted in creating different PS proof files for the same image. This could make for unwieldily file management and complete reworking of adjustments for each colour space.

Print made ignoring OOG warnings for yellow butter cups dotted across the field. By Andrew Fitzgibbon.

After some experimentation, I’ve settled on an approach of developing the proof image in full Adobe RGB space and adding a group of layers for each set of adjustments for different colour spaces / papers. These can be activated/deactivated as needed.

I’ve battled with the out of gamut (OOG) warnings in PS (also LR) in the past having been convinced that they always need fixing to ensure a good print (no doubt through YouTube tutorials and Adobe’s own videos). It is a process that can be tortuous when small OOG areas pop up all over an image. Common print adjustments I tend to make are bringing up the brightness (to compensate for the brightness of the screen deceiving about the brightness of the printed image) and selectively raising blacks if needed (to stop them blocking out in print). Both these things make sense and help the print quality. Another thing that can trigger an OOG warning is heavily saturated colour – the image above was flashing all over with yellow buttercups. An option that I’ve not tried before is to ignore the OOG warning – if it relates to small areas where detail is not important this seems a sensible option. The conversion on printing does its best to bring OOG elements into gamut. This is obviously a very quick way of dealing with the warnings and resulted in the best print (above) after a couple of tries at desaturating yellows in selected areas, leaving the print looking flat and too cool.

For the print file itself, I stamp a layer from the proof file layers and copy that to a fresh file for resizing and sharpening before outputting. I envisage keeping this flat file separately for anything where making consistent print re-runs is important.