In my quest to better understand monitor profiling as it relates to printing, I came across a blog where the recommendation was to create a monitor profile for each paper in use - since each paper will have a different white point and perhaps a slight color cast.

I've recently followed the SpectraView routine and created two profiles according to their specs - one for editing and online display and one for printing - where the overall contrast and white point were both lowered.

Even using the For Print profile, I had to lighten the image by ~2 stops in order to not have shadow detail completely lost. So, it's got me wondering - is it worthwhile to create monitor profiles for each paper...or is it likely that my monitor profile still needs some adjusting?

Tech Specs:

  • Dell XPS 13"
  • NEC EX241UN-BK-SV 24" 16:9 IPS Monitor with SpectraViewII
  • Datacolor Spyder 5
  • Canon Pro-10
  • The prints in question were done on Canon Pro Luster, though I will be printing on Hahnemühle as well.
  • Color management by the printer was off. Photoshop handled colors using the ICC profile for the paper. Relative Colormetric. Black Point Compensation set to True.
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Seem backwards to me but i still use a darkroom :) isn't a monitor profile for insuring that the colors you see on your monitor are accurate? and printer profile is for insuring that your printer prints the colors of the color space your software is using correctly? Isn't it the color management of the printer you want to be concerned with. ?? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Feb 5, 2018 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alaskaman - I spend time in the darkroom as well. I'm actually really looking forward to trying out some digital -> cyanotypes as soon as I get some transparency paper. As I understand it, the monitor profile should be translated to the print profile and then printed. But, if you could see with as much accuracy as what's going to be printed, the translation wouldn't be necessary. At least, that's how I judged the blog post's advice. Asking here to see if that advice was full of sh*t or not? :-D \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Feb 5, 2018 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ A link to the blog referenced in the opening sentence might be helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 5, 2018 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark - I'm looking for it - was doing so much research and reading on this it's lost in a shuffle. Stay tuned. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Feb 5, 2018 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: What is the use of printer profiles when softproofing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 6, 2018 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


You should always use a correct monitor profile for your monitor. That us, you should use a profile that ensures that the colors sent to your graphics display adapter by applications are accurately displayed on the monitor.

When talking about soft-proofing images to see how they would look using specific paper/ink/printer combinations you shouldn't change your monitor profile. Rather, you should use a soft-proofing profile for your printer/ink/paper from within the application you are using to soft-proof the images.

Each profile gets applied at a different link in the chain between the image file and the monitor's output. Your application, such as Photoshop, will use the printer profile to limit the color gamut of the displayed image to that which the printer can reproduce. The application then sends the image file to the GPU to be displayed on your monitor. The monitor profile will be applied so that the output of the GPU will cause your screen's output to match what Photoshop sent to the monitor via the GPU after applying the limits from the printer profile to the image.

Keep in mind that no printer/ink/paper combination will be exactly reproducible on any monitor. There's a difference between additive systems that use emitted lights to create color, such as televisions and monitors, and subtractive systems that use absorptive materials, such as ink, to reflect color. At its best, what you see on your monitor when soft proofing is still only an approximation of what a print will actually look like. When properly done the differences will be very subtle, but often the most divergence is found in the areas of deep shadows.


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