Meet Your New Friend — the Color Calibration Chart
Have you ever been frustrated with photos of your artwork? Do the images not quite capture the color or richness of the original artwork? If you’ve been looking for an easy way to capture the colors of your artwork in photos accurately, meet your new friend — the Color Calibration Chart.
There is a pretty good chance you may never have heard of the Color Calibration Chart. Color Calibration Charts or Guides have been around for a long time, but in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, their use has fallen out of fashion. And that’s a shame because there really is nothing better to assist in color correction and adjustment. If you want to capture the color in your artwork accurately, this is the key to doing that.
The Color Calibration Chart goes by several names, including Color Calibration Guide, Color Calibration Tool, and Color Checker.
How the Color Calibration Chart Works
Basically, the chart provides known targets to match, creating a frame of reference while adjusting color in photographs. The Color Calibration Chart consists of squares of color on the front and corresponding color recipes on the back.
The colors on the chart include:
- 100% Cyan, 100% Magenta, 100% Yellow; the ink colors used in the four-color printing process
- Red, Green, Blue; used to render color in light for computer monitors, TV, cellphones
- 100% black, white, and a value range between the two; aids in correcting white balance and exposure
- additional colors used to help photographers with skin tones
Color Calibration Charts vary greatly in price; here are links to an affordable option and a professional version available through Amazon.
How to Use It
Include the Color Calibration Chart in the photos of your artwork by placing it next to or near your artwork. For Artists, including the White and Black value range, the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. I don’t worry if the bottom row is cropped out of the shot; it’s not an area we’ll use for color adjustments in the photos.
Okay, truth time. I wish I could provide step-by-step instructions for how to edit the photos. But the truth is there are so many different photo editing software options available, technology moves at an amazing pace, and every situation is different. It’s just about impossible to hit on everything. Therefore I’m going to give you a general guide and direct you to sources with detailed instructions.
If possible, take a couple of test shots and view the photo in a photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, or Camera Raw. If the photo looks overall cold or warm, then your light source needs to be adjusted. Don’t rely on the computer to fix poor lighting.
Here are a few links for instruction on adjusting photos in various software.
- For using Adobe Lightroom
- Adjusting color using Adobe Photoshop and Camera Raw
- Adjusting the White Balance using Adobe Photoshop and Camera Raw
Editing photos isn’t for the faint at heart! It’s not a quick one and done. The software can be confusing, the terminology frustrating.
I strongly recommend having your artwork photographed by a professional. With a basic knowledge of the process, you will be better able to talk to a professional photographer about what you want and what needs to be adjusted.
Other Helpful Resources:
– How Converting Images from RGB to CMYK Affects the Colors
– Get the Best High-Res Images of Your Artwork
– Video on using the chart for photographers