Why do colors not look the same on all output devices?

If you edit and retouch an image on your monitor and then print it out, you may find that different devices render different colors even though they are all working with identical data. Each device, be it an inkjet printer, colour copier, or professional printing machine for offset printing, has customised colour properties and distortions. Colour management systems (CMS) were developed with the aim of balancing out such differences in colour rendering.

Beispiele: Unterschiedliche Farben auf verschiedenen Ausgabemedien

A colour management system ensures uniform colour rendering with all devices used

Colour management systems are integrated solutions intended to ensure uniform colour rendering with all input and output devices by correcting the colour properties and distortions of the individual devices.

When creating a colour management system (CMS), the first step is to create profiles, which contain information on the colour properties of the individual devices. Sometimes, such colour profiles are already included in deliveries from device manufacturers. If high accuracy is to be achieved, however, they can also be created with a CMS tool. The profiles can be used both by computer operating systems and individual applications to keep colour rendering uniform across different devices.

Vereinheitlichte Farbprofile über alle Geräte hinweg

Advantages of using a colour management system

Colour management requires colour profiles to be available for all monitors. Operating systems offer the option of creating an optimal colour profile for each calibration. This function helps improve the accuracy of the colour management.

Beispiel: Vereinheitlichte Farbprofile

So that the colour rendering on the monitor can match the colors of the end product, the monitor has to enable precise colour rendering.

When using a colour management system, images can be printed exactly how they looked while they were being edited on the monitor. The monitor therefore plays a key role.

Sichere Farben über den digitalen Workflow hinweg

If a colour management system is used to ensure that the colors look the same across all stages of a workflow, the sample prints (proofs) can be waived. As the colour matching is not performed for the individual process steps, significant improvements in efficiency and accuracy can be achieved with a colour management system.

Subject overview

Colour management systems are integrated solutions, which are intended to ensure the uniform rendering of colors on all input and output devices.

To the article

How do monitors differ in terms of panel type, gamut (colour space), and calibration (hardware calibration vs software calibration)?

To the article

Monitors in the ColorEdge range provide a specially developed ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) for reliable colour rendering and balanced brightness.

To the article