Eduardo Angel
Eduardo Angel

Eduardo Angel has worked as a photographer, DP, digital consultant, photography instructor, and architect.

Building custom ICC Printer profiles

July 16, 2012

The PIXMA PRO-1 printer offers three unique color modes that allow photographers to customize their settings: Linear Tone, Enable ICC Profile, and Photo Color. This article covers the steps you need to take in order to create your own custom ICC printer profiles

A printer profile is the combination of three unique elements; a specific printer, a specific paper, and a specific ink set (for example Photo Black or Matte Black). If any of these elements change, we need to use a different profile. Standard profiles provide great results, but as you will see, under some situations custom printer profiles are also an interesting option.

Let's start from the beginning: Current printers can produce outstanding images, and the quality of standard profiles has increased dramatically. Canon has been working with several paper manufacturers, including Ilford, Moab, Innova, and Hahnemühle, among others to make ICC profiles available.

However, there are situations where professionals may want to create their own custom profiles. Here are some examples: Consistency is key at my studio, especially when dealing with architectural photography clients. We need to make sure that we always review, and deliver, the same exact print quality - even after replacing inks and switching papers - and that requires custom profiles. Another, less common, situation is when we print on unique papers. A couple of years ago, we decided to send thank you cards to our top clients. We chose a rice paper that was not available in the U.S. market (actually, the paper wasn't even supposed to be an inkjet paper!) - but I'm happy to report that creating a custom printer profile for our Canon printer proved to be a relatively quick, simple, and extremely reliable solution.

How to create Custom Profiles:

We currently use X-Rite's i1XTreme kit, and the latest version of i1Profiler software. However, keep in mind that there are three new hardware options: i1 Basic Pro 2, i1 Photo Pro 2, and i1 Publish Pro 2. You can also create your own custom ICC profiles by downloading Canon's Color Management Tool Pro software, which supports X-Rite tools, including the Color Munki Photo and Color Munki Design.

  1. Make sure you are running the latest version.
  2. Under "User Mode" change from Basic to Advanced.
  3. Under "Printer" select your Canon printer.
  4. Under "Workflow Selection" choose "Profiling."
  1. I generally prefer the TC9.18 RGB.
  2. You can customize the number of generated patches, and even "scramble" them
  3. For this article I'll select 400 patches, but the more colors that are measured the more accurate the printer profile.
  4. Click next.
  1. Select your device.
  2. I recommend using letter size.
  3. You can change from inches to millimeters.
  4. Time to print! Click print and a new dialog box will appear. Here you need to specify your printer, the paper type, paper source, and any other setting that you would like to embed into the new profile. Click Print again in the new dialog box.

This is what our target patch looks like.
It is a good idea to let the targets dry. Some people recommend 24 hours, but for most current inkjet papers between three and four hours is generally enough time.

  1. First, you need to calibrate your device. This can be done from the software or hardware.
  2. Under Measurement Mode, I prefer "Single Scan" since it will help to speed up the process.
  3. Under "Printer Information" you have two options: RGB and CMYK. The PIXMA PRO-1 is an RGB printer.
  4. Under "Paper Information" we have three options: Plain, Matte, and Glossy. I pick the last one.

    Now we need to read the Test Chart's patches.

    Click "Next" when you are finished.

Here you can select your Ambient Light from a list of presets-or, you can even measure it! You can also pick your CIE Illuminant. This is a good place to cover a little bit of color theory: since different illuminants can have the same correlated color temperature, the CIE has defined a set of Standard Illuminants, which are spectrally defined. D50 has a correlated color temperature of 5000K and D65 measures 6500K. I will pick "Standard Illuminants" and "D65" for this exercise.

Click Next. For more information about this topic, check our tips to standardize viewing conditions when evaluating prints.

Here you can customize advanced settings, but I generally recommend using the default settings as they provide great results. As always, click Next.

We are almost done.

  1. Under "Profile Name" choose a meaningful name. For example, I am calling the new ICC Printer Profile "PixmaPro1_Glossy_400patches.icc". With a name like this I have a very clear idea about the specific printer, paper finish, and target that was used to create the profile.
  2. Now click on "Create and Save Profile" and let the software work its magic.

The location to save the new ICC profile entirely depends on your Operating System (OS). See "Understanding and Installing ICC Printer Profiles" for detailed instructions for Macintosh and Windows users. The custom ICC Printer profile is now ready to be used, and it is accessible from all the software applications that support ICC profiles like Adobe Photoshop. For most users, the profiles provided by Canon, and Canon's paper partners, deliver outstanding results that work very well. But as you see, creating custom printer profiles is a viable option that can work in those special situations when a standard profile is not ideal or available.

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

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