Chapter 3
Managing Color
Managing Color
We’ve covered some color basics, but before
going any further you may want to do a cou-
ple things to ensure that the color you see
on your monitor will be reasonably accurate
when you decide to print or send images to
the Web. Luckily, color management in
Photoshop Elements is very simple, and
doesn’t require any labor-intensive chores
on your part.
First, you should make sure that the colors
you see on the monitor are reasonably accu-
rate, and represent what others will see on
their monitors. Calibrating your monitor is a
particularly good idea if you have an older
monitor, or inherited it from a friend or rela-
tive (you dont know what they might have
done to the monitor settings). If you have a
newer monitor, it probably came with an
accurate calibration from the factory. In that
case, as you go through the following steps,
you may find that no changes are needed.
If you prefer, you can also choose color set-
tings optimized for either Web graphics or
color printing.
Figure 3.15 In Windows XP, the Adobe Gamma control
panel is buried inside the Calibration folder in your
hard drive.
To calibrate your monitor with Adobe
Gamma (Windows):
Start Adobe Gamma, which is located in
the Program Files/Common Files/Adobe/
Calibration folder (Figure 3.15).
The Adobe Gamma start screen appears.
If you’ve calibrated your monitor before,
you may be launched to the Gamma con-
trol panel directly. If so, go to step 3.
continues on next page
Changing and Adjusting Colors
Managing Color
The History of Web-Safe Color
If you’re familiar with the creation of graphics or images specifically for the Web, you may
already know about Web-safe or browser-safe colors. For those of you new to this buzzword,
Web-safe colors are the 216 colors that can be accurately displayed on all color computer
monitors, regardless of age or platform. Heres the background.
Back in the pioneer days of the Web—in the mid-1990s—a lot of computer systems still used
256-color cards (also known as 8-bit color). This meant that the monitors on these systems
could display only 256 colors at any given time. You (or your kids) may even still have a few
CD-ROM games designed around this limitation; you’ll know them because they ask you to
change the display to 256 colors—in other words, to use the Web-safe palette.
But even though the palette consists of 256 colors, only 216 of those colors are considered Web
safe. That’s because Windows and Macintosh computers share only 216 colors, each reserving
the remaining colors for system use. Thus, we’re left with 216 colors that are guaranteed to
appear with absolute accuracy, regardless of platform. Surprisingly, even using just these 216
colors, your images can come out looking pretty good.
Today, even the most basic PCs come out of the box with the ability to display thousands—or,
more often, millions—of colors, and there are very few 8-bit systems still in use. However,
because Windows and Macintosh computers display some colors a little bit differently, using
the Web-safe palette is the only way to ensure that your colors look completely accurate on
both systems.
Bottom line? If you’re not concerned about folks running older computer systems, or the
slight color differences in PC and Macintosh systems, then use all of the colors your glorious
system came with. But if you want to make sure that absolutely all viewers can see your
images in the exact colors you intended, stick to the Web-safe color palette.
From the Adobe Gamma start screen
(Figure 3.16), do one of the following:
Click Step by Step (Wizard) to adjust
your color settings using the on-
screen instructions.
Choose Control Panel, click Next, and
follow the steps below.
Figure 3.17 Setting up Adobe Gamma ensures that the
color images on your screen are represented
accurately. In this dialog box, unchecking View Single
Gamma Only lets you adjust the red, green, and blue
values on your monitor.
Figure 3.16 The Adobe Gamma utility is used to
calibrate your monitor for Windows XP. It includes a
Step by Step mode that guides you through the
monitor calibration process.
Chapter 3
Managing Color

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