ICC Profiles

An ICC color profile describes a device's color characteristics, i.e., the colors the device can record or reproduce, the values recorded for a perceived color (from an input device), or the values you must send to an output device to reproduce a certain color. These profiles are available from the device manufacturer (usually called canned profiles), or you can produce your own using special profiling hardware and software. A profile produced for your specific device is called a custom profile. Almost all color management systems today use ICC profiles. With the help of such profiles, the color values required to produce a specific color on a specific device (such as a monitor) can be translated to values that will reproduce that specific color on a different device (such as a printer) as accurately as possible. A device's color profile also describes the gamut of the device.

Note: A raw RGB value does not define color in an absolute way, as the color produced by a certain RGB value is very much dependent on the device used or on the device that recorded that value. However, an RGB value in the context of a color space, defined by the ICC profile of the color space does define an absolute color.

What do you do when a non-color-managed image displays different colors on different monitors? With the help of an input profile, a color management system can correctly interpret the RGB values of the input image and, with the aid of an ICC profile for your monitor, accurately translate them to color values that produce similar colors on your output device. The next section describes this process in detail.

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