Are your prints not matching the Display? Are your prints too dark when comparing side by side with other prints?
These are two very distinct issues and probably the most important questions to ask yourself when reviewing printed images that are not coming out as you would have hoped. Let's examine the prints not matching the display first as this is usually the best place to begin and will normally resolve many of your color management printing problems.
When you are taking a print and holding it up to the screen of your display, one thing that you need to keep in mind is that Emissive light which is what is coming from a display does not register to our eyes quite the same way that Reflective light does that is what is coming off your hard copy prints. For this purpose, it is critical that the display is profiled correctly to a specific white point and luminance level. Industry standards for the white point set as D65 however many users find that they are very comfortable working in an environment where D50 works better for their workflow. That is fine and I would suggest using what works best for you. Keep it simple!
We also need to investigate if the brightness of the display needs to be turned down. This is usually the case manufacturers will normally have the brightness on new displays out-of-the-box set very high to allow the users to see them at their full potential. Great for the show room, not so idea for color critical work as we cannot control the brightness of a print and our edits are all taking place within the displays screen! When setting a specific luminance value the standard here is 120. When reviewing the specifications of most displays that are produced today, these values can actually hit close to 400!! Now when we calibrate and profile to the standard values, our monitor seems very dim to us and as it is what we are not accustomed to, we think it is incorrect and our instincts tell us we need to make it brighter. The problem with that however is that we cannot turn up brightness on paper! What we need to remember also is that we have calibrated and profiled the display with either our i1 device or the ColorMunki device which now is making these adjustments based on accurate color measurements from the hardware and software. Sometimes it might be best to walk away from the monitor after calibrating to allow your eyes to adjust to a more natural setting before making judgments on the calibration and profile.
The following link will take you to a great article on ColorWiki's site that goes into just these issues and how we can avoid them.
When comparing print to print match and the prints are coming out too dark probably the first place to begin troubleshooting would be the workflow itself. Some main questions to ask yourself would be were the same settings used in the print driver when printing the test chart as were used when applying the profile? Was color management turned off completely when the test charts were created? Are there any updates for the driver that have not been installed to the operating system limiting our control to turn off color management. How did these images compare when soft proofing? Was the correct media type selected?
One other thing that may occur as well which can be very frustrating, if you select an option the print driver then go out and to a previous selection, these settings may not be retained and will default back to their factory settings. For example, the option for Color management is AFTER the selection for Paper Handling in the Epson Stylus Photo 2200. The user wants to make sure that they don't forget to shut off the color management so they make that selection first. Once this is finished they now back up to Paper Handling and make the selection of the media type and scaling options. Once this media has been selected none of the options made to the Color Management field are where we just changed them. This is the way most print drivers work as all these options are related to what the selections we make which may now change the options we have. It might be a good idea to review the summary here and copy or save these out to use later and it is always a good idea to walk through each option in the print driver in order.
Also, some prints on Epson and other various printers come out much too dark when you apply a ColorMunki printer profile or other custom profiles and you printed using Photoshop CS2\CS3\CS4 on a Mac OS 10.5.x. The reason for this is related to printer driver setup when printing the test charts for profiling out of ColorMunki. Please follow these steps to create a working printer profile with ColorMunki.
To print your images correctly with your ColorMunki printer profile out of Photoshop CS3 follow these steps: