Lightroom Color Management

by Mikkel Aaland

You have a couple choices when it comes to Color Management in Lightroom's Print module. You can use a custom printer profile, or you can turn over the color management to your printer software. You'll also have a choice of how Lightroom converts the image into a printing color space. Here you'll learn how.

CM Profiles

There are two pop-up menus in the Profiles section of the Color Management Pane.

Figure 11-42

Manage by printer

If you select this option, you hand over control of how the color is handled to the printer driver software that came with your printer. Before you print, you must open the printer driver and select the appropriate settings. Every printer driver is different, but I use a Canon i9900 and this is what I get when I click on the Print Settings box at the bottom of the right panel of the Print module. The critical thing here is, under Color Options, to select Colorsync (Mac) or ICM Color Management (Windows) as a Color Correction option. You also need to choose the appropriate Quality setting and Media (but you need to do this regardless of which color management method you use).

Figure 11-43

Other... option

If you select Other, a dialog box will appear. This is a list of printer profiles that came with your printer or you have loaded yourself. (If no profiles are loaded, this dialog box will be empty.) These profiles take into account many factors including the printer, color space, and type of paper. Check the box or boxes next to the profile or profiles you want to use (circled).

Figure 11-44

Perceptual rendering attempts to preserve the visual relationship between colors, and is generally the best choice when printing color images. However, colors that are in-gamut may change as out-of-gamut colors are shifted to reproducible colors.

Relative rendering, on the other hand, preserves all in-gamut colors and shifts out-of gamut colors to the closest reproducible color. The Relative option preserves more of the original color and may be desirable if you have few out-of-gamut colors. The only way to know for sure which method to use is to try both and compare the results.

The chosen profile will appear as a choice in the pop-up menu. To remove it, select Other again and deselect your choice. To add custom printer profiles, place the profile in your computer's Colorsync (Mac) or Color (Win) folder. On the Mac, this folder is found in the Library folder. In Windows, the Color folder a bit hidden, so I suggest searching for the .icm extension to find it. After placing the new profile in the folder, restart Lightroom, and the next time you select Other, the profile should appear in the list. Let me amplify the warning found in the Print module Color management pane: if you use a custom profile, it's very important to turn off the color management in your printer driver dialog box. You don't want the custom and printer management to both manage your colors.

Figure 11-45

Choosing Rendering Intent

One last option for color management via the Lightroom Print module is to choose the rendering intent. You have two choices: Perceptual and Relative. Suffer with me a moment for a brief explanation of how Lightroom handles color space. Lightroom's working color space ProPhoto RGB, is an extremely wide and accommodating color space. If you edit your photo in the Develop module, and, say, supersaturate it, this color space is large enough to handle the expanded colors. However, when you go to print, your computer—and often the printer—isn't set up to handle the expanded range of colors. Choosing Perceptual or Relative will determine how any out-of-gamut colors are handled. The box to the left sums up which to use when.

Figure 11-46

Mikkel Aaland is a professional photographer whose pioneering work in digital photography dates back to 1981. He is the author of nine books including the bestselling Photoshop Elements Solutions and O'Reilly's acclaimed Photoshop Lightroom Adventure. Visit his website at

Return to Inside Lightroom