How to calibrate your monitor to match your printer

First of all we are not technically going calibrating printer or your display here in this article because if we actually do it then your display will only be good for printing purposes and normal viewing of movies and browsing internet will become a bad experience. We are going to show you a simple trick here that will allow you to match colours without any hardware calibration because we will calibrate the photo itself!

The first time I printed a photo on my inject printer, I was really disappointed because the printed photo looked quite different to what I was looking at my monitor.  After much fiddling with different soft proofing software, I found out a real easy trick that allowed me to match the print colours to what I see on my monitor.

What you need to get started:

  1. A digital photo taken from a good quality camera (300 dpi resolution). Preferably the picture should be very colourful and should not have filters applied, otherwise it would become difficult to judge the actual colors. Also the photo should be well exposed.
  2. Adobe Photoshop software
  3. Printer

Step one is easy, all you need to do is print the photograph in best photo mode on a good quality glossy paper (or photo paper). Print the photo using windows print option and not any printing software because often these can manipulate colours.

Step two demands accuracy and sharp vision. Open the image file which you just printed in Photoshop and hold the printed version of the same photo in front of the monitor. You should use the same monitor for this work for which you want to calibrate your printer. Look for the differences. What we need to do now is make the photo currently open on photoshop to look as close as possible to its printed version and take note of what change in settings we did to make it look similar. Suppose the printed photo is dark but brightness looks fine on the monitor. In photoshop, go to brightness setting and start lowering the brightness until its as much dark as its printed version and note down the value of brightness. Now look for change in colour, if the printed photo is more blue or red then go to Image > Adjustment > Color Balance setting and change it to match the color too. If the printed photo is red, slide the red slider and make your photo red in photoshop as well. Again note down the value.

Now when your photo in photoshop looks same as its printed version and you have the values with you of changes, you are all set to print the photo but before that close the photo currently open and DO NOT save the changes. Let the image be as it is, we do not need to save any changes at this stage. For the sake of explanation I am taking some example values which I used to get perfect print.

Brightness = -40

Red = +40

Note that these settings will not work for you and you will need to find your own by following the above described process.

Now open the image again in photoshop and change the same settings which you did earlier but just in opposite direction. In my case I found out that I had to lower brightness to -40 so now I will increase the brightness to +40 and red to -40. Now we save the image for printing. Save it as JPG in maximum image quality. Photo saved now will look a bit odd but don’t worry about it. Print this JPG image using windows print option and you should now get a perfect photo looking almost 99% same as it looks on your monitor.

Mohd. Hashim Khan

I work as a freelance web designer and developer and enjoys fiddling with machines and electronics stuff. I am also working as a part time computer teacher at Aligarh Muslim University. I share my knowledge on various topics here so that others can make use of it and take benefit from my experiences.

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2 Responses

  1. Ruben Carmona says:

    Hi Hashim,

    This is not really a solution. This is not
    calibrating, this is just correcting a picture file to get matched with
    any kind of printer profile you’re just using.
    Working like this you will save your images completely wrong.

    First, because you’re doing a miss-correction to your uncalibrated monitor and your printer without a dedicated profile.
    because you’re doing it with your eyes. And your eyes will see colors
    in relation to the color temperature und brightness of the ambient light
    your looking to your monitor.
    Third, because you’re not looking at your prints under a standard daylight.

    the monitor is at least necessary. Furthermore, you can work with the
    printer profiles from the paper manufacturers website…

  2. thenetguruz says:

    Absolutely right, I agree that this method I described above is not actual calibration. In professional working environment, colour proofing is a lot different story. However my article was for home users who occasionally print photos using their inkjet printer and using this method I was able to get fairly good results every time. A monitor calibrated for printing jobs will not deliver for other home uses (browsing internet, watching videos, playing games etc) and hence this article which saves user from calibrating their monitor and still getting better prints! 🙂

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