How to Set Target Colors in Photoshop

I’m hosting the April Technique Challenge for Design House Digital.  The concept itself is simple:  when you have paper you want to use but the photos and paper clash in color transform your image to black an white.  A classy and elegant fix to get a cohesive color scheme.

The complexity of this challenge is to set your target colors for output.  I never print 100% black because I want a richer, darker color.  If you have not worked with inks and paints this concept may not fully make sense.  All you need to know is that in printing, blacks are not equal.  There are warm and cool blacks and there are complex blacks made by mixing cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Just as I never print with a flat black, I don’t print with 100% white.  This is so the surface of my image is not interrupted.  Generally speaking, white does not print; areas of white don’t have ink so the paper color shows through becoming the white.  Depending on the ink, paper and type of printing, areas of white can be a break in the surface of the image.   If you take the mountain scene in this demo, a lot of the cloud area are blown out, having no color information.   I’m going to use a laser printer for this example, because it has that slightly shiny ink.   If I were to print this image with a laser printer, I would be able to see large areas across the image that is lacking that shiny ink.

I hope you’re able to follow along.  This is one of those concepts that  hands on examples far out weigh a digital tutorial!  The question then is how do we avoid  breaking the surface of our image?

By setting target colors.

This is telling the image/printer what value you want black and what value you want white.

I’ve created a video tutorial to explain how to set target colors in Photoshop.  I’m using Photoshop CS6, but I have been using this technique for at least the last 7 years, so if you have a slightly older version, you shouldn’t run into problems.  Also as this is part of the DHD technique challenge for the month, I’ve divided the challenge into beginning, intermediate and advance steps.  Therefore I’ve split the video into two.  The first part talks about changing a photo to black and white and adjusting levels so the image has great shadows and highlights.  If you already know how to do this, I’m saving you the three minutes of time.  Part two talks about how to set your target colors.

Part 1-Adjusting Image Levels

Part 2 Setting Target Colors

For more on the challenge please visit the challenge forum at Design House Digital.


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