Genesis Examines: Calibration

Calibration. It’s not the most interesting part of creating artwork, but it’s probably one of the most important. Why? Because nobody is seeing exactly the same thing as you, least of all online.  Most screens are too bright – especially laptop screens, and screens generally have default settings that they ship with – depending on the manufacturer, some are better than others. As the monitor ages, it’s also worth bearing in mind that these colours change too.

There’s very little point in investing time creating artwork if this won’t be viewed as you want it to be and without calibrating your screen this is most certainly the case.

The way we see problems arising from uncalibrated screens is most definitely when it comes to printing. If you’ve ever printed (you’re missing out if not!) you’ll know that sometimes what you see on screen is not the same as the print you receive – colour matching is the problem we see most. Of course, we’d always recommend test prints (we offer these free!) but the right screen calibration minimizes turnaround times, manages expectations and eases stress – all things, we’re sure you’ll agree, are worth the effort.

Built in calibration tools, or tools online are okay for a quick fix, but calibration using colorimeter hardware will provide optimum results. This is because, while built in calibration-utilities or web-based software are great for a quick fix, they are generally flawed in their results because of one element – you. These calibrations generally rely on individuals’ perception of colour and therefore are very rarely reliable.

Before calibrating your monitor, make sure your screen has been on for at least half an hour so it has fully adjusted to its normal operating temperature and conditions. Ensure to set the monitor resolution to its native, default resolution.

Make sure you are calibrating your screen in the correct environment – a room with moderate ambient lighting is ideal. Colorimeter’s can be bought or rented from local camera rental shops, or purchased from £100. Once plugged in through your computer’s USB and placed on the screen, the software should take you through the necessary steps.

As a rough guide:

  • Make sure that the screen resolution is at the highest possible resolution – also Ensure your video card is outputting in highest bit mode.
  • Install the latest version of the colour-calibration software for your device (check the manufacturers website for the most recent version)
  • Run the software and follow the instructions. This can take as little as 5-10 minutes.

The following should help you produce accurate results:

Colour temperature: 6500° Kelvin

Brightness: 60-120 Candela/m²

Gamma: 2.2

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