Are you having trouble getting the colors of your printed designs to match the color on your screen? When your screen makes you look as orange as a Jersey Shore cast member, it might be time for you to calibrate.
Calibration serves several purposes. It helps give you a true color display, and aligns the color of what you see to what it really is. In addition, proper calibration can help reduce strain on your eyes if you tend to stare at computer screens all day for work. Color calibration can sound intimidating, but there are a couple different ways to do it, and they range from easy to really easy.
Before You Calibrate…
There are just a couple of steps to take before we get underway. First, make sure your monitor has been running for about half an hour so it’s had time to warm up. Make sure the screen is running at its native resolution and reset your it back to factory setting before calibration. Any adjustments you’ve made prior to this point are now useless, so ditch them. Lastly, make sure you’re aware of how to change the color, brightness and contrast controls manually. You may need to use these later.
Regardless of whether you use Windows or OS X your computer has a calibration program built into the operating system. Calibrating this way will not be as accurate because you’ll be depending solely on your eyes, but it will help a little bit. In order to get to the program in Windows, go to the Display Control Panel. In OS X, the tool will be found in the Display System Preferences in the Color tab. They’re pretty self-explanatory so just follow the instructions.
Okay, so let’s say you’ve done the built-in calibration, but when you try to print out that awesome Incredible Hulk poster, he’s looking a little too lime green. You need a more accurate calibration. This can be done relatively cheap with a colorimeter
. These handy little gadgets stick to your display and connect to your computer via USB. They sense the colors being output by the screen and use software to adjust accordingly.
One of the most popular, and wallet-friendly options is the Pantone Huey Pro
. It has an ambient light sensor so it only calibrates the color emitted from your screen. It can also do multiple-monitor calibrations. The Huey Pro is easy to use, and it can be found online for about $69
There are several other colorimeter options out there, so look around for the one that best suits your needs. Whatever you decide, even the most basic color calibration can save you a lot of headaches (literally).