Calibrate your screen in Windows to display its true colours

You wanted to show off by printing your pretty booklet but the result on paper had nothing to do with the original colours on your computer? You’ve noticed that an image did not have the same colours on your screen than that of your colleague? Well you should not blame your screen, it’s just that you have not calibrated it :). No need to panic. In this article, I will show you how to calibrate your screen to get the right colours.

Why calibrate your screen?

Not so long ago, screen calibration was an obscure concept for me. But I quickly realized that it was an essential step if I didn’t want to have unpleasant surprises: pictures with too dark colors, too bland, too flashy, etc.

Be aware that a poorly or uncalibrated screen can distort your work. In other words, what you are seeing on your screen, well these are probably not the real colours : your eyes have lied to you all this time !

Calibrating your screen therefore allows you to have an optimal display when you edit your photos or when you’re editing pictures; but again, this operation will avoid you great disappointments when printing.

There is an assistant called Calibration Probe, which can actually do the job for you. Supplied with a dedicated software, it automatically acts on your screen calibration settings. Agreed – this kind of gadget is often reserved for professionals, and not everyone is willing to invest in it (not me in any case !). That’s why we are going to fix it ourselves, adjusting the settings by sight.

You can see prices and buy a calibration probe by clicking here.

The calibration probe is fixed on your screen
The calibration probe is fixed on your screen

A concept to understand : the colour profile

Before we venture into unknown territory, we must already begin by understanding some basic terms (words of a noob in calibration xD):

ICC color profile:

This is a file that describes how a computer device produces colours. Colour profiles can be inserted in the image to specify the colour range of the data. This is a good way for the user to ensure colour consistency on different devices.

There are so-called generic colour profiles (like the famous standard Red Green Blue / sRGB) used by default on Windows and which is quite adaptable to any type of screen. But as for us, we will create our profile manually. .

Screen calibration:

To calibrate a screen is simply to create an ICC colour profile.

Therefore, each device (printer, screen, camera, scanner, etc.) has its colour profile. But in our case, we will be particularly interested in the screen colour profile.

I hope you have understood what I’ve explained so far because I took a long time to choose the right words :)

Screen calibration: the steps to follow

Step 1: Go into the Colour Management

On your computer, type in the search function “Colour Management”. A window opens and you click on “Devices”. The name of the screen you are currently using is displayed on “Device”. Here, in the image below, it is called “Display: 1. Generic PnP Monitor – NVIDIA GeForce GT 710”.

You will notice that the “Profiles associated with this device” part is empty, which means that there is no profile associated with the screen you are using. In other words, it is not calibrated yet. We will quickly solve this problem.

No color profile associated with this device
No color profile associated with this device

Step 2: Calibrate the screen

Still in the “Colour Management”, now you click on the “Advanced” tab and then “Calibrate display”. The calibration steps are displayed on your screen, so you just have to read and apply. Basically, click on “Next” after each instruction.

Step 3: Adjust the gamma

Then you land on “Adjust gamma”. Always move the cursor according to the indications: the black dot in the middle of each diffuse circle must not be too white, nor be too black. The goal is to have the “good gamma”. At the end, click on “Next”.

Gamma correction, an essential step!
Gamma correction, an essential step!

Step 4: Adjust the brightness

To calibrate our screen, we will now adjust the brightness. This adjustment is done through the control buttons integrated in your screen: you can either decrease the brightness or increase it.

The black cross on the picture should not be too visible, or disappear entirely in the background. Moreover, you will also know that the brightness is not enough if you do not distinguish the black shirt from the black jacket. Once that’s good, click on “Next”.

Adjust brightness with the buttons on your computer screen
Adjust brightness with the buttons on your computer screen

Step 5: Adjust the temperature

The purpose of temperature adjustment or colour balance is to have a neutral gray tone. You will therefore have to move the three sliders to have a neutral gray :).

Professional graphic designers are used to distinguishing these shades, but for amateur eyes (like mine), the trick is to print on grayscale paper. Thus, the printer uses only black ink. After that you just have to compare what you have on the screen to the colours printed on paper.

Once done, click on “Next” and then “Finish”.

Getting a neutral gray tone is not always easy
Getting a neutral gray tone is not always easy

Once these operations are complete, if you return to “Devices” in “Colour Management”; you will notice that a profile has been created on the “Profiles associated with this device” section. Yay! This means that your screen is now calibrated.

But we are not done yet. To finish the job, we have to assign the created color profile to an image.

You have to start by opening Photoshop and tell him that you have just created a profile so that it can keep it. To do this, go to “Colour Settings” on Photoshop. In “Working Spaces”, on the RGB part, indicate the profile that you’ve just created, and that’s it!

The Photoshop “Color Settings” window
The Photoshop “Colour Settings” window

Now, when you open an image with Photoshop, it will ask if you want to keep the old profile of the image or if you want to convert it into the profile of the screen where you are currently working. Tick “Convert document colours to workspace” and end with “OK”.

Now, I am almost sure that the image displayed on your screen is faithful to the “real” colors, but the accuracy is obviously not absolute.

Finally, when you save the image, you will need to tick the « ICC profile » option. From now on, all the pro software like Photoshop and the browsers that will open it will take into account this configuration.

Here it is, that’s it for this “tutorial” on how to calibrate your screen to have the right colors. Above all, to make your images appear as accurately as possible on your screen, do have the reflex to always assign an ICC colour profile.

See you soon for new adventures in the wonderful world of software and Digital Photography!

– > See also: Captain Seller, Review of the greatest CRM software hero

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