Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Design: Colour profiles in GIMP

I am not a designer. Although I did do pretty well in GCSE Design and Communications; an A if I remember correctly, because I was a right girly swot, and this was before the days of A++ or A* or whatever nonsense you can get now.

I have decided to teach myself a few key techniques to extend my web development skill set. This means going right back to basics. I'm not made of money so I'm working with GIMP.

This week I learnt about colour profiles. A colour profile is a set of data that characterizes a colour input or output device. Different devices and browsers have different colour profiles, which basically means they display colours in different ways. A profile is a look-up table which maps the properties of a colour space to a device-independent working space.

Therefore, you need to use colour management policies in your editing software to ensure that what you see whilst editing an image is how it will look when rendered. Colour management policies add a description of the colour characteristic to the image, i.e. they add a colour profile.

Most devices (cameras and scanners) will embed a colour profile on creation of the image. When opening such images, GIMP will offer to convert the file to the RGB working space (sRGB), which is recommended and is fine for web-based images. However, it is possible to add other ICC profiles to your image in GIMP, if required.

For the best results you can add a colour profile for your monitor. However, this is way beyond my beginner capabilities, and probably beyond my needs for now. You can also add a colour profile for your printer in order to view on screen how your image may look when printed.

See this tutorial for how to set up colour management in Photoshop.


  1. Always wondered about those color profile settings for your monitors...

    Do you just use the standard GIMP package? I tried it out a while back but couldn't handle all those windows everywhere, however GIMPShop (http://www.gimpshop.com/) looks like a good way to go if you come from a Photoshop background? Have you tried it?

  2. It does take a bit of getting used to but I don't really mind all the windows. It can be confusing if I have too many other things open on my desktop though. I did try GIMPshop a while back when it first came out. I didn't like it but I don't come from a Photoshop background. It's probably been improved since then anyway. I might consider trying it again actually.