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Mike Rollins is a highly respected expert in the digital imaging community. As a consultant, he trains users on advanced PhotoShop techniques, image editing, color management, and workflow. His web site contains some very informative tutorials. We are pleased and priveledged to have received permission to mirror his excellent article on Color Workspaces. This article and the images in it are the exclusive copyright of Michael Rollins, and no part of this article may be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.


Color Management Policies

Once you select a preferred working space, you control how Photoshop deals with working space issues under the Color Management Policies section of Color Settings. You have three choices:

  • Off,
  • Preserve Embedded Profiles, and
  • Convert to Working RGB.

The policy options for RGB are shown in Figure 4 below.

Figure 4: Color Management Policies section of Color Settings dialog.

Remember, turning off color management policies does not stop Photoshop from using your selected working space to render the file for viewing. What it does do is stop Photoshop from embedding a profile in a new document created in Photoshop, embedding a profile in an untagged document opened in Photoshop, or stripping a profile from a tagged document that has a different working space than the one selected in Color Settings.

If you choose to have color management policies on (and you generally should), then you have the choice of having a default policy of preserving embedded profiles (Preserve Embedded Profiles) or converting conflicting profiles to your selected working profile (Convert to Working RGB). No matter which policy you choose, you should check all of the options that require Photoshop ask you about how to handle missing or mismatched profiles. If you do not have these options checked, then Photoshop can change your file without notification. If the profile conflict resolutions are checked on, then you will always be given the opportunity to choose how Photoshop handles the conflict, potentially avoiding a nasty surprise.

Changing Working Space

Once you have a Photoshop image file, with or without an embedded profile, you can control embedded working spaces through the Assign Profile and Convert to Profile commands found on the Image/Mode menu.

You use the Assign Profile dialog, shown below in Figure 5, to remove an embedded color profile from a tagged image, assign a profile to an untagged image, or reassign a new profile to a previously tagged image.

Figure 5: Assign Profile dialog box.

You use the Convert to Profile dialog, shown in Figure 6 below, to convert a tagged or untagged document to a new profile. The Source Space is the current working space (which is Photoshop's working space for an untagged file), and the Destination Space is the working space you want the document converted to. You will almost always want to use the Adobe color management engine to do the conversion. Intent allows you to select the rendering intent that you wish to use for the conversion, which briefly is the method used to translate the file to the gamut of the destination working space.

Figure 6: Convert to Profile dialog box.

The difference between Assign and Convert lies in how they treat the image file. The Assign Profile command does not change the pixel values of the image when a new profile is assigned; therefore, the image can look quite different after assigning a new working space. The Convert to Profile command does change the pixel values of the image in an attempt to preserve the appearance of the image when assigning a new profile.

Finally, using the Save As command on the File menu allows the removal of the embedded profile by unchecking the ICC profile option when saving a new copy of the image file.

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Copyright 2002 Michael W. Rollins



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