Using Supplied Profiles and Custom Profiling (L4.3)

Link (L4.3) from the book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques, by Andrew Darlow

Q: How do I use or make custom profiles to getter better prints from my local minilab?

A: You can find many custom profiles supplied by (available free; see left-hand side of their web page for a directory). I’ve seen the results of a few prints made using the profiles, and they are quite good, but yellows can go a bit murky green (with or without the profile), which can be adjusted prior to output in Photoshop or other programs. Here’s how you would prep the file for the Frontier/Noritsu minilab printer:

1. Load the specific profile into your Colorsync profiles folder. On a Mac 9.x it is in System Folder/Colorsync Profiles. On Mac OSX, it can be found here: User/Library/ColorSync/Profiles. On the PC (at least on Windows XP), it is in Windows/System32/Spool/Drivers/Color. Alternatively, you can right click on the profile in XP and select “Install.” On older Windows operating systems, try Windows\System\Color.

2. Make sure you are happy with what you see on your calibrated monitor and save your file. I would then clean up the yellows in Photoshop’s Image/Adjustments/Selective color by choosing Yellows and take out some Cyan (and maybe add a touch of Magenta). Sometimes, a better approach is to use Image/Adjustments/Hue/Saturation and select Yellows, then add 10 points or so of saturation.

3. Next, select Image/Mode/Convert to Profile and select the DryCreek Photo custom profile (available on for your local Frontier/Noritsu. Next, save your file with the letters “CC” added for Costco or some other abbreviation and send it to them at 100% size and at least 200ppi (300ppi is better) at the final print size with no embedded profile. The photo won’t look any different on your screen, but the numbers will have been altered to look better on the Frontier printer. Note that most of these machines use Fuji Crystal Archive paper, a very stable C-print paper. I much prefer the Matte (actually Semigloss) option, and it’s available in most labs and stores. Also, expect some cropping to occur, though I haven’t experimented to determine if this can be adjusted in advance to minimize it.

It’s also important to tell them to “Turn of Auto Color Correction.”

Here is a link to a free Windows only profile conversion software tool from Dry Creek Photo. This is useful for those who don’t own Photoshop CS, CS2 or CS3.


If you’d like to make profiles for your minilab, or for a device like a color laser printer, start by reading TIP 64 in the 301 Inkjet Tips Book, and then follow the instructions for the hardware/software product you purchase. As long as you print from an application that is “color management aware,” like Photoshop, Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom, your custom profile should work very well if it’s produced properly. If you are sending files to a lab, the safest way to help assure good color is to convert your file into the sRGB working space after saving your work. You should then save the file as a new file if you were previously working in a color space with a wider gamut, such as Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB.

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