How to Create a Profile for Your Printer

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

I've calibrated our monitors, but can't find an easy and affordable way to calibrate our printers. While our printers did come with ICC profiles for some of the papers we use, they're not optimal. Do you have any suggestions for ways to create accurate profiles for our specific combination of printer and papers?

Three solutions come to mind: ColorVision's PrintFix Pro, X-Rite's i1Design LT, and professional color profiling services. PrintFix Pro costs as little as $359 from online resellers, while i1Design LT will set you back more than $800. Besides having a lower price, the PrintFix Pro has the additional benefit of being able to produce an "extended gray" profile for black-and-white images. Both devices use the same technique:

However, both devices require that you have a significant degree of patience and manual dexterity to accurately measure all those little squares of color. Some users complain that it's very easy to misread a square, and one misread square can create a very damaged profile.

That's why many people prefer to rely on a dependable third party, such as ColorValet, from Chromix: They charge $99 for each profile, with discounts for volume. Their process is essentially the same, except that you print out a target from their free application, then send the target to them for measuring.

Are you scared yet? If so, you've joined the legion of users who take the easier approach of simply using the profiles provided by their printer manufacturer. The experts I've spoken with are impressed by Epson's profiles for Epson paper. (No surprise there, I suppose!) If you're using an Epson printer, try using Epson's paper and their profiles. The results could be just what you need. If you're using a different paper, or a printer from another manufacturer, a measuring device or service may be just the ticket.

You can learn more about ColorVision's PrintFix Pro at, and X-Rite's i1Design LT at

You can learn more about color management in general, and printer profiles in-depth, at

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail, or go to their website:
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