COLOR MANAGED WORKFLOW IN PAINTER 12 - PART 1: INTO PAINTER...
You take a picture with your phone or your digital SLR. Then you upload it to your computer and view it on your monitor. Maybe you modify the image using more than one software before bringing it to Painter. Lastly you share your image via the web or print. In each step you have taken with your image, you have entered a potentially different color environment - resulting in unexpected color shifts in your image. The intention of this blog post is to give Painter users an overview of basic color managed workflow in Painter 12.
Before we begin, you'll need a quick overview of color profiles. The International Color Consortium (or ICC) is the international standard by which colors on all devices (monitors, scanners, printers) are interpreted. ICC profiles (or color profiles) are a kind of metadata that is associated with an image that tells the supported devices and software how to interpret (or color manage) the colors of your image. In theory, if each device handles the profile correctly, the image's color should be consistent throughout processing. The default color profile that Painter 12 recommends and uses is the "sRGB IRC61966-2-1 noBPC" color profile. This particular color profile is recommended for publishing to web. In addition, many print shops favour this particular color profile. All this to say, while it's possible to assign a different color profile to your image in Painter 12, it's recommended that you're clear on the reasons why you would associate a color profile other than sRGB to your image.
Now let's dig into common scenarios in Painter 12...
Creating a New Image in Painter
This is the easiest of all scenarios. Maintaining default color management settings (accessed via Canvas->Color Management Settings...) in Painter 12 will automatically assign a default RGB color profile (sRGB) to your document. When saving or copying from Painter, this color profile will be automatically associated to your image. To reset color management settings to default, you need only select the "Default" preset in this dialog.
Opening an Image in Painter
Again, we'll assume that you have maintained default settings in Painter 12's color management settings (accessed via Canvas->Color Management Settings...). If the image opened has no color profile associated to it, then Painter 12 will automatically use the default RGB profile (sRGB) to interpret the colors. If the image has a color profile associated to it, then Painter will automatically use the color profile associated with the image to interpret the colors. To view the color profile currently assigned to your document in Painter 12, go to File->Save As... and, assuming that the document type selected supports embedding a color profile (e.g. riff, tiff, jpg), you'll see the current color profile assigned to your document.
Assuming that you wish to maintain the same color profile for your image, it's recommended that you DO NOTHING with regards to color management in Painter 12. That is to say, Painter will faithfully round trip your opened document in and out without modifying your color profile.
A quick note about CMYK... Painter manages and displays colors in your document using the RGB color space. Any documents opened with CMYK color space will need to be converted. Painter 12 provides various options for converting CMYK documents in it's color management settings (Canvas -> Color Management Settings...). Long story short, if you want to open CMYK documents in Painter 12, then you must convert the colors from CMYK color space to RGB color space.
Now suppose that you opened a file in Painter 12 and have perceived a color change or unexpected color shift. The first thing that I would caution is how easily we can be deceived when looking at colors. That is to say, placing a particular swatch of color against a blue background versus a green background will affect how you perceive the color in question. I would recommend that you try to neutralize this effect by looking at your document against a neutral grey color. Painter's default working environment is grey with the intention of providing an optimal environment suitable for looking at colors correctly. On Mac, you can set your document to full screen mode (Window -> Screen Mode Toggle) in order to fill-in the background color of your window with a grey background.
Assuming that you aren't being troubled by color perception issues, then I would validate the color shift against another application on the same monitor. So if you can open the document on the same monitor using a different color managed software (e.g. the latest version of Google Chrome offers color management on both Mac and Windows), then take a moment and compare the colors of the same image in both apps. If they are the same, then perhaps you need to adjust the color profile associated with your image to correct the color shift. If they are different, then you may want to check or reset your Color Management Settings in Painter 12 (Canvas->Color Management Settings...) to the Default preset. Then try opening the file again in Painter 12 and perform the same comparison again...
I also want to mention a quick note on Painter 12's navigator panel (Window -> Navigator). The preview of your image that appears here is based on your document and is therefore color managed. However, the navigator panel is *not the same as* your document. That is to say, the preview of your document is displayed as part of a control. Furthermore, the image is resampled by Painter in order to fit within this control. All of these factors can contribute to minor differences in color perception between the navigator's preview and the document.
This blog is only the beginning of what can be done with the color management settings in Painter 12. As such, it is not intended to provide an exhaustive list of what you can do when creating and opening color managed files in Painter 12. Nonetheless, my hope is that it provides enough information to help safeguard most users against troublesome color shifts in Painter 12. I welcome your feedback and questions.
Stay tuned for Color Managed Workflow in Painter 12 - Part 2: Out of Painter...