In today’s fast paced environment, we’re looking for the images on our monitors to look exactly the same when they are printed. However sometimes what we see in its printed form can look extremely different; lighter, darker, grainy, and awful! So, how can we ensure that what we see on the screen is what we see in print? Here are some tips to help close this gap.
- Calibrate your monitor. The quick way to do this is with a calibration program that your operating system offers. I use Windows so I would go to the Control Panel > Display > Calibrate color. This isn’t fail proof, but a good first effort. By the way, some people recommend that you let your monitor warm up for at least 30 minutes before calibrating.
- Purchase an automated tool for monitor calibration. Do an online search for “monitor calibration tool” and you will find loads of options in as many price ranges. Typically these systems have a hardware device that is placed on your monitor. The sensor on the device measures a set of color patches to determine the limits of the monitor’s color display capability. The included software uses the sensor’s findings to calibrate your monitor.
- Check the photo editing/scrapbooking software you use to see if it has additional settings/tools to help match monitor color to printed color. Some programs have a “no color management” setting. This setting is mostly to benefit pre-press operators (those in a professional printing environment). Try using the software with it turned off and see if that helps.
- While we’re thinking about photo editing, the more you crop and edit, the more pixilated your image can become. Cropping close reduces file size and pixel count. And if you sharpen your images, that can contribute to graininess, especially after cropping. Minimize editing to maximize printing.
- You may also want to keep in mind the brightness setting on the monitor and other outside lighting. Glare caused by lamps or natural light can affect how you see images on the screen.
- If all else fails, print an image, hold it up to your monitor and manually change the color/contrast settings.
The goal for calibrating your screen is for your printed photo to look very close to how it looked on your computer screen. Once you have your system set up the way you like, plan on re-calibrating every 2-4 weeks.