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A brief history of ICC Colour Profiles

ICC refers to the International Colour Consortium which was established in 1993 by eight industry vendors for the purpose of creating, promoting and encouraging the standardization and evolution of an open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform color management system architecture and components. The outcome of this co-operation was the development of the ICC profile specification.

The intent of the International Color ConsortiumĀ® profile format is to provide a cross-platform device profile format. Device profiles can be used to translate color data created on one device into another device's native color space.

The acceptance of this format by operating system vendors allows end users to transparently move profiles and images with embedded profiles between different operating systems. This permits tremendous flexibility to both users and vendors. For example, it allows users to be sure that their image will retain its color fidelity when moved between systems and applications. Furthermore, it allows a printer manufacturer to create a single profile for multiple operating systems.

Colour Management Systems

If you want to ensure your prints are consistent with the original image format (such as a scanned negative) and/or that which you are viewing on screen then you should be using a Colour Management System or CMS.

This is a system that transforms data encoded for one device (such as scanner or monitor) into that for another device (such as printer) in such a way that it reproduces on print the same colours as those scanned or viewed.  Where an exact colour match is not possible the result should be an acceptable approximation to the original source. The term colour management system is generally reserved for those systems that use the internationally accepted CIE system of colour measurement as a reference.

ICC Profiles

ICC profiles help you to get the correct colour reproduction when you input images from a scanner or camera and display them on a monitor or print them. They define the relationship between the digital counts your device receives or transmits and a standard colour space defined by the ICC and based on their defined measurement system. Therefore, if you have a profile for each of your devices such as scanners, cameras, display monitors and printers, the fact that they refer to a standard colour space lets you combine them so that you obtain the correct colour whether you get images from the scanner or camera and print or display them.

An ICC profile is one that conforms to the ICC specification. By conforming to this specification profiles may be exchanged and correctly interpreted by other users.

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