Proofing in Paint Shop Pro

In my last post about self publishing a book using Blurb, I mentioned that I “soft proofed” my images before using them in order to get a better idea of what they might look like after passing through the black box of a printer that’s outside my control.

This step is really not required to produce a decent book. Many people just pop their images into the layout and let ‘er rip and things turn out OK. It all depends on what kind of images you use and how persnickety you are about matching colors and brightness and contrast.

I use Paint Shop Pro XI to process my photos. I know this is heresy for many photographers who swear that nothing of value can be made without the magic touch of PhotoShop, but let’s not get into all that right now.

The first thing we need for proofing is the color profile for the printer we plan to be using. There is a link in my previous post to download the profile for the printers used by Blurb. I dropped this file into the C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\drivers\color folder.

Next open Paint Shop and choose File – Color Management – Color Management from the menu. You should see the dialog shown here.

Normally I leave this set to Basic color management. The top option is a profile that I created by calibrating my monitor. The second option is a profile that I downloaded from the Moab paper web site so that I can match my monitor to the kind of printer and paper that I use.

It would be nice to just use the Blurb printer (HP Indigo Press) profile in the second slot here, but it doesn’t work that way. The HP profile isn’t allowed here (don’t ask) so we switch to the proofing option and drop the HP profile into the Emulated device slot.

When you close this dialog and view your image, it might look pretty normal, but it also might look like crap. Many (not all) of my images were on the crap side of things (crappier than usual I mean). The colors shifted toward blue and faded, the contrast went way down, and I had a lot a trouble with bright white areas “blowing out” and losing all detail. It took a fair bit of twiddling to get them back to where I wanted them.

Remember that you will never make them look exactly like the originals do on your screen. How your eyes see an image on a bright glassy screen that is adding colors and beaming them at you is VERY different than how they see an image embedded on a piece of paper using reflected light and a subtractive process. Just do the best you can and see what happens.

My images turned out pretty good. However, I did have to abandon some images because I could never get them close to what I wanted. These were ones that had especially bright white areas along side completely black areas. I just could not hold the detail in the whites. Of course the images that needed the least adjustment were ones with strong colors and even exposures.

One more thing I need to mention is a little trick that I needed to work around the BookSmart layout software templates. The templates are great in that a person without training in book design can work up something decent. On the other hand it can be limiting. In my case I wanted a landscape shaped book, but some of the images were portrait.

The templates included with BookSmart worked fine for the landscape images, but the portrait ones were either noticeably too small or so large that there was not enough free space before the edge of the paper.

Simply resizing the images doesn’t work since the picture box in BookSmart alters sizes to fit what it thinks is best.

What I ended up doing was to create a new image in Paint Shop at 300 pixels per inch (recommended resolution) with dimensions the same size as a full page. I made my image the exact size I wanted it to be and dropped it into the center of my full page canvas.

I saved the whole thing as a PNG file so that the area around the image could be transparent. Leaving the background as a color would have made it look like there was a frame around the image. Back in BookSmart, I chose a template with a full bleed image and dropped in my PNG file. Now I had an image exactly the size I wanted.



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8 Responses to “Proofing in Paint Shop Pro”

  1. cutthroat stalker Says:

    Ah-hah–now that’s some good thinking with the image size issue and your workaround.

    I’d really like to get a decent monitor for photography reasons, but too much $$. I’ve tried calibrating my monitor (only with software), but it really didn’t seem to do much. I don’t really print many photos at this time to justify any expense toward rectifying this any time soon.

    PS I thought the “magic touch” could only be achieved by using MS Paint ;-)

    • forestrat Says:

      I use an old CRT monitor that I’ve had for years. I have tried LCDs, but could not get decent results with them. As you say, a really good LCD costs a heap and cheap ones don’t do the job.

      I don’t know what I will do when this monitor gives up the ghost. I have only found one place that still sells CRTs and I expect that it won’t be long before they just aren’t manufactured at all anymore.


  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    My goodness. You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to get things right – which is of course the right way to do things. Sounds complicated to me.
    Once you have a printed copy in your hands, can you go back an edit for the second printing if, say, the colours did not come out right?

  3. Cutthroat Stalker (Scott) Says:

    Good question LFB–could you make any kinds of changes, spelling errors, etc. now that it’s “done,” as long as it doesn’t change the layout?

  4. forestrat Says:

    As I understand it, you can’t just go in and edit a published book. Once it is uploaded to the Blurb site, there is no facility for editing.

    You would have to go into BookSmart, fix the problems, and then upload it again as a new book. You can then delete the old book.

    It is kind of a pain so they suggest that you make real sure that things are correct before uploading. So it is a good idea to print out a proof and have someone else look it over for errors.


  5. fencer Says:

    Hi forestrat,

    Thanks so much for detailing your process… very instructive.

    It’s probably much the same in Photoshop, which I’m more used to.


  6. fajerwerki Says:

    I just want to tell you that your blog is very interesting, bookmarked

  7. George Yotov Says:

    Good instructions!

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