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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

How To Make Custom Black And White Printer Profiles

Yes, this is going to be a bit esoteric, but I am hoping that it will be useful to some folks that are stepping into the confusing endeavor of generating black and white profiles for use with their printer's black and white only mode. However, I don't want to imply that any of this is original. It's not. I got most of my instructions from Keith Cooper's tremendously useful website, Northlight Images. In particular, this article was very helpful in learning how to generate these profiles using the iOne Pro 2 and the Quadtone RIP. While the QuadTone RIP can only be used for printing to Epson printers, it nonetheless comes with a nifty little tool to generate icc profiles that can be used with any company's printers. I myself print with a wide format Canon ImagePrograf 2000.

So why, then, am I writing this post? As great as Keith's article is (and it is), someone like myself, who is just reaching an intermediate level in color management, found that there were details missing. These details would be apparent to someone well versed in color management but not to someone at my level. It took me a bit of time to work these details out and I am therefore writing this post to fill in those gaps for people that are at a beginner/intermediate level in generating profiles. It will also serve as a personal reference for me, so I don't forget how I did things.

By the way, if there are any errors here (though I don't think there are), I am hoping that someone will point them out so that I can correct them for myself and for anyone else who might read this.

OK, here is what you will need to get started:

  • The not-inexpensive iOne Pro 2
  • The QuadTone RIP ($50)
  • Keith Cooper's black and white reference charts (free) which can be downloaded from the link in this article
  • And of course you will need a printer that allows an all black and white printing mode (any brand) and a supply of  the papers you want to print on

Here, then, are the steps. They are presented in detail:

1) Download Keith's targets, as noted in the link above.

2) Decide which of the targets you are going to use and write it down so you don't forget (or simply delete the others....but make sure you keep the .txt data document for the target you choose. I used the N1-51STEP-K-A4P.psd target.

3) You will need to load that .txt reference target data (these are the known parameters for the black and white target squares) into the iOne profiler software. To do this copy the .txt file that is named with the same name as the chosen target into the appropriate folder in the iOne software. I believe you can also load this from within the software, but I found it easier to have it there at the ready. I should add that I use Windows 10, so there might be some variability in the folder sequence depending on your operating system, be it Windows or Mac. At any rate, here is the location of the folder you need to put the .txt file into for Windows 10: \ProgramData\X-Rite\i1Profiler\ColorSpace CMYK\MeasureReferenceWorkflows.

Don't let the CMYK thing freak you out. The chart is made of varying degrees of black only....just go with this for now

4) Time to print the target. With most profile making you want to print the target with no color management. However, for this endeavor to be used with your printers black and white only mode, you want to print the target exactly like you will be  printing your real images. The target is in a grayscale Gamma 2.2 space. The long and short is to keep the target in the gamma 2.2 grayscale color space and print it on your paper of choice with the media settings that you would normally use for that paper while using your printers black and white only mode. I personally printed one using the relative colorimetric rendition and one using the perceptual rendition, mainly because I wasn't quite sure which would be better. Go ahead and let the targets dry overnight.

5) Open your iOne Profiler software:

Note that the software is opened in the "Advanced Mode" and using an RGB printer. Note also that since my software is licensed for RGB mode only that everything has a green check mark except for CMYK (which has a red question mark).

Remember from earlier that the chart data was in CMYK because it is composed of varying levels of black? You are going to have to change the printer type to CMYK to get the profiler software to accept the chart data. So lets go ahead and do that via the drop down device selection menu:

When I make that change the colored RGB square indicators turn to CMYK and almost all the workflow selection choices go into demo mode since I don't have the software licensed for CMYK use. That's OK, because we are going to use the Measure Reference Chart choice, which is conveniently not put into demo mode. 

6) Let's click on the "Measure Reference Chart"  choice, which brings us to the screen below. See that "Load" button?

Go ahead and click on Load. When the dialogue box opens you will have to navigate to the folder where you put the target data .txt file and go ahead and choose that file.

The target has now been loaded. Note that even if you had the 'Device Setup" drop down menu set to i1Pro2 before loading the target it will default back to the iOne. So if you are using the 2 go ahead and reset the software to your device using the drop down menu.

Clicking next will bring you to the actual measurement page:

7) If you have used the software before (and if you own the iOne Pro 2 device you likely have) it is very familiar from here.

a) Set the measurements to Dual Scan if you want to make M0, M1, and M2 measurements (red #1) 

b) Calibrate your device (red #2) 

c) scan your printed target with the iOne Pro 2 

d) save the data with the name you would like to give your profile (red #3). The software will save 3 versions (M0, M1,M2) and append the M0,M1, or M2 to the appropriate versions.

It is important to know that the data is saved in (for Windows 10) : \ProgramData\X-Rite\i1Profiler\ColorSpace CMYK\MeasureReferenceMeasurements and that, very importantly, the data can be saved in various formats. You need to save it in the i1Profiler CGATS CIELab (*txt) format.

8) OK, now you have your target data and it is time to make the icc profile. Let's take a trip to the Quadtone Rip icc maker tool.

Hmmm, yeah, I know, where is that??? It isn't very obvious is it?

Here we go (Windows 10): C:Program Files (x86)\QuadToneRIP\Eye-One. In that folder you will see QTR-Create-ICC.  That's what you're looking for. 

So what to do with that? Yeah, I didn't know either.

Open a second explorer window and navigate to that folder \ProgramData\X-Rite\i1Profiler\ColorSpace CMYK\MeasureReferenceMeasurements where you saved your data from the iOne. Grab your saved data .txt files one at a time and literally just drop them onto that QTR-Creat-ICC we found above. Each time you do so a data file will be made (click save) and an icc profile will be created in that folder (I personally found it easier to move each data file to my desktop and drop it onto the RIP tool from there). You can then go ahead and install the profile by either copying it to the folder where it belongs in your OS (for Windows this is C:\Windows\system32\spool\driver\color) or just right click on it and click on Install Profile.

9) OK, we are all ready to print. Take your black and white image. Convert it to gray gamma 2.2 in Photoshop (I think it will also work if you are in a gray gamma 2 based color space like Adobe RGB, but I haven't tested this). If your printer allows you to use an icc profile in its black and white only mode you can just go ahead and choose the black and white profile you just made for the particular paper you are printing on.

If your particular printer doesn't allow you to choose a printer profile in its black and white only mode (mine does not) convert the image again directly using 'Convert to Profile' in Photoshop, choosing the black and white icc profile you made for that particular paper. Then simply print using black and white only mode with 'Printer Manages Colors' and the appropriate media type chosen (the one you used to print the target) and the appropriate Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric choice.

You should be good to go!

Disclaimers:

1) Any errors are my own

2) If you are advanced in color management and find any errors I have made please, please comment.....it would help me as well as any readers.

3) I am very pleased with the black and white images I am making and with the accuracy of the soft proofing in Photoshop with these profiles.

by Howard G

© Howard Grill