Is color management for me?

The material in these guides is recommended for advanced users – such as creative professionals – who require the highest possible precision in rendering color. For most users, an understanding of the advanced concepts of color management is not necessary to produce a great-looking book with Blurb.

For more information, visit our Color Management Resource Center.

How to Prepare Images for Blurb BookSmart® Using Adobe® Photoshop®

NOTE: This document details image prep for Blurb BookSmart®. For information about image prep for Adobe® InDesign® or Blurb’s PDF to Book workflow, see How to Prepare Images for InDesign and PDF to Book using Adobe Photoshop.

Once you’ve profiled your monitor and installed the Blurb ICC Profile, you are ready to prepare your images for BookSmart.

Preparing files for BookSmart consists of three steps:

Step 1: Convert images to sRGB (if necessary).
Step 2: Soft proof to preview how your image will print. Make any desired image edits.
Step 3: Save images as high-resolution files and import into BookSmart.

  1. Converting an image file to sRGB in Photoshop

    Figure 1. Check Document Profile
    Figure 1. Check Document Profile

    BookSmart currently accepts grayscale and RGB images with sRGB being the preferred color space for RGB images. Do NOT place CMYK images into BookSmart. Most JPEG images from digital cameras are already in the sRGB color space so no need to change anything. All other RGB color space images are converted to sRGB when imported into BookSmart. However, this conversion is not always optimal and can lead to unexpected color changes. For best results, if conversion is necessary, perform this conversion yourself in Photoshop prior to placing into BookSmart.

    If your images are in sRGB, you are ready to go. If you use Adobe RGB or some other RGB color space, then you can use Adobe Photoshop to convert your images to sRGB before importing them into BookSmart. Photoshop is a fully color managed application and can convert your images with a minimal amount of color shift. Make sure to always work on a copy of your image to preserve your originals in their original color space.

    Check that your image is not already sRGB

    • Click on the menu on the bottom left of your image window and select Document as shown in Figure 1 above.
    • If the image is sRGB, you do NOT need to do a conversion.

    If the file is not sRGB, convert it:

    Figure 2. Convert to Profile
    Figure 2. Convert to Profile
    • Select Edit > Convert to Profile.
    • Select sRGB as the Destination Space as shown in Figure 2 at right.
    • Select "Perceptual" as the Intent and "Adobe ACE" as the Engine to achieve the best possible match between Adobe RGB and sRGB without losing subtle gradations and transitions. Select Black Point Compensation to preserve shadow detail. Select dither if you want to add a small amount of digital noise to break up gradients that are banding. You should always use dither if your image contains large areas of subtle gradations.
    Figure 3. Save Converted File
    Figure 3. Save Converted File

    Save your converted file

    Once converted, choose File > Save As… to save a copy of your image that is now in sRGB – see Figure 3 at right.

  2. Soft proof your image

    Once the image has been converted into sRGB, you can get a preview of how the image will print on paper by using the soft-proof option in Photoshop. Soft proofing allows you to see if you need to make adjustments to your file in order to compensate for the printing process. For example, soft proofing will show you if the printed image will lose too much contrast. Or the printed image may be less saturated than your intent. With soft proofing enabled, you can edit your image until you are happy with the preview knowing that what you see with preview turned on is very close to what you’ll see in your printed book.

    A high-quality monitor that has been recently calibrated and correctly profiled can display a preview that is greater than 95% accurate to the final printed book. Once you have made all your adjustments, you can then save the file and import it into BookSmart.

    Enabling Soft-Proof in Photoshop

    • Select View > Proof Setup > Custom
    • Select Blurb ICC Profile as the Device to Simulate.
    • Select Perceptual as the rendering intent in order to preserve subtle gradients.
    • Select Black Point Compensation to preserve shadow details.
    • Leave Simulate Paper Color unchecked (our recommendation). This optional setting can factor the paper stock Blurb uses into your preview, but only if your monitor’s brightness is set to a “print friendly” level.

      Images can look amazingly bright and vivid onscreen (particularly with LCD monitors) at a high brightness level, but print output can’t duplicate this same brightness no matter how “bright” the paper. Selecting Simulate Paper Color with an overly bright monitor can result in milky or hazy soft proof previews. We recommend leaving this option unchecked. You still get the benefit of seeing how your image’s colors will be reproduced in print but without the contrast changes that simulating paper introduces.

      If you still want to use the Simulate Paper Color Option too you will need to reduce your brightness to a more print-friendly level (between 90-120 cd/m2) when calibrating your monitor. The disadvantage of this is that your monitor will not be as vivid as you may like for other purposes. Leaving the Simulate Paper Color unchecked is the better choice for most users unless you focus primarily on print work.

    When Soft Proof is on, your image title bar will indicate “RGB/8/Blurb ICC Profile.” You can toggle the soft-proof on/off by using View > Proof Colors.

  3. Save your image file for BookSmart

    Once you have made all your edits you are ready to save your files and import them into BookSmart. We recommend that you save a copy of your Photoshop files that have been converted to sRGB and keep your originals as they are. The sRGB files should be saved as either JPEG or PNG format. Blurb recommends the JPEG format for most all images unless you have incorporated text or vector artwork into the file. If this is the case, we recommend the PNG format to hold the details of this vector-based detail.

    That’s it. You’re ready to create your book in BookSmart.