The importance of a properly callibrated monitor/video card


Gee but I hope this will end up a sticky…j/k,

Really I just wanted to share with everyone the importance of a properly callibrated monitor and video card. Technically this isn’t really a painter specific issue. But that doesn’t make it not extra-important to painter users.

Here’s the deal, I’m working on my very first Painter pic, that is to say the very first one I will finish, I have plenty of unfinished digital paintings, but not a single finished one.

People kept posting in my WIPs of the piece, things i just couldn’t wrap my brain around. Things like pick a light source, and use more color. Well low and behold, I was checking out an unrelated thread and found out what was wrong, I was using painter and everything else for that matter with a video card that had the gamma set ridiculously low, so deep rich jewel tones looked black, and what I thought were deep rich jewel tones in my pic, were in fact pastels, sheer pastels. Such an obvious mistake, and yet I’m sure we have all made it at least once.

I followed a link to find the solution, and I’m sure a quick google search of how to callibrate a monitor will give you some answers, really the link I used only offered half of the solution, the monitor half. The video card half, lay in the advanced section of display properties, setup. You know the part where you set the number of colors and screen resolution. Click on advanced, and look around in there, I’m sure it must vary from video card manufacturer to video card manufacturer, but there is most definitely a section for setting the color, being hopeless without a map, I just checked link all colors, and pushed them up untill I could see a pattern of distinct shades, all the way to black, the color picker in ms paint will work for that.

After that I simply adjusted the gamma to be a little warmer, because I like a warm screen.

No this isn’t a clear and concise tutorial, I couldn’t find one of those, no mattter how hard I googled. What I’m hoping this does, is make all of us who haven’t taken a good look at our monitors and video cards, stop what we’re doing and take a good look at how they’re set up. You will save yourselves much hard work and heartbreak if you do.

Ooh, like a little public service announcement all my very own.

Wait just a second, no this doesn’t only apply to Painter, but I hope Luna will let this thread stay, and not give it the boot. The reason is simple, many people join CGTalk just for the application specific forums, and though Painter doesn’t have as many fans and users as photoshop(yet:)) it does have fans and users. Among those fans and users are people who are completely new to digital painting. I for one painted often with real paint, and these issues simply don’t apply in the real world. The other forums probably have a thread very similair to this one. I just think it’s important.

Please Luna, PM me if you have to delete this thread, or move it, I really do mean it as a way to share with fellow Painter users. It’s probably the first thing you learn when you go to school for becoming a digital artist, unfortunately, I’m having to teach myself, and I know I’m not the only one. Lots of folks are teaching themselves, everything from basic computer building and use, to how to use specific apps. Okay, you see this paragraph? If this can stay delete it, or tell me to, since it’s really asking permission, after the fact, but still asking. :slight_smile:


Digital photography forums are probably your best bet when it comes to learning about color management. I use a Gretag Macbeth i1 to calibrate and profile my monitor. Most people probably don’t need to go that far. Adobe Gamma is pretty good for example, and I think there are free downloads out there that are similar for eye-balling it. I like the i1 simply because it’s a simple no hassle method of making sure everything is accurate without having to wonder about human error. Plus I do color proofing for accurate printing of digital photos, so my i1 investment makes sense in my case. It’s also nice to know that when I look at other people’s work that has been done in sRGB for the web, I’m looking at a fairly accurate representation on my monitor to what they want me to see.

Anyways, check out this site. A lot of color gurus hang out there and would probably be happy to answer any questions you have regarding color management.


Since you asked so nicely, I’ll keep it here. :smiley: It’s like our little secret. Shhhhh. . …


Thank you so much, to both of you.

oh and Zeddicus, thanks for the link, must hurry back and bookmark, in case, well I don’t wanna jinx it, but you know.

And Luna, <whispers> thankyou for letting this stay, I really do think it might help a lot of people, who are new to Painter, since many are pretty new to digital art in general. Our first taste of Painter being the classic disc that comes with our shiny new(sometimes used)Wacoms.

BTW/OT, man oh man, I wish I understood the machineflesh rules sooner. I completely ignored the challenge, because I’m not particularly interested in painting cyborgs. Great, now I figure out that cyborgs are exactly what they’re not looking for. And a Wacom Intuos 2, as well as a Cintique are on the list of prizes:cry: If only I had understood sooner( I could at least have given it a shot. Now I know, read all the rules and information about contests thoroughly, before deciding whether or not to participate.


Originally posted by Lunatique
Since you asked so nicely, I’ll keep it here. :smiley: It’s like our little secret. Shhhhh. . …


Thanks for not moving this thread. It only begins to introduce the subject of color management which is so important to any Painter user wanting to print their images!

I hope the thread develops into an even more valuable discussion, since this subject is more than a bit complex and confusing.


I vote for your second image. It tells a touching story and carries a simple but profound message.

It makes one think. :wink:

I know your finished piece will be wonderful and hope to see it, so please post a note here when it’s available.



This book is supposed to be quite good, though I’ve never read it myself. You can find a number of articles by Bruce (one of the co-authors) here.



And another book:

Mastering Digital Printing by Harald Johnson - Press Release

Also, Harald Johnson’s site:

DP& - a digital printing and imaging resource for photographere, digital/traditional artists, and printmakers


Ok, you guys made me do it. sticks thread with sharp thumbtack :smiley:



My first sticky!!!

Thankyou Luna :slight_smile:



Another day another lesson. Just recovering from the big mistake I made, of allowing windows to automatically update. I won’t do that again, manual is the only way to go. I was just re-reading Jinny’s reply, and the funny thing is…that’s exactly what happened to me. I purchased a secondhand, Epson Stylus Photo EX, and wanted to make sure I hadn’t bought a lemmon. I went to a site that has famous paintings(and not so famous ones) of 19th century masters. I decided, from having seen Manet’s Olympia that it would be the perfect image to use for testing, as the shading is so subtle and the image very detailed.

After printing at one of the higher resolutions I simply marvelled at the incredible amount of detail and shading the printer had picked up. Here’s the funny: I was absolutely amazed at how things were showing in the print that hadn’t shown on the monitor, such as the features of the servant. I had assumed they weren’t showing on the monitor due to jpeg compression. Still I failed to put 2 and 2 together, then again maybe I did put 2 and 2 together but being bad at math came up with the incorrect equation of 3.

Long story short, well maybe not short, but at least medium in length, I now realize it wasn’t my monitor’s fault, nor even my own. Simply put callibration of monitors and video cards isn’t really discussed much in digital, or even ‘traditional’ media forums. Nor is it often discussed on artists’ personal sites, or sites like cgtalk, and Epilogue. Apparently there is some discussion on sites geared towards photographers.

The irony of that fact abounds. See I understand that photographers are artists, however when you say “artist” the image that springs to mind for most people is that of a painter at his or her easel. Even when you’re talking about a sculptor, unless you actually say the word “sculptor” the person to whom you are speaking will assume painter(person who paints, and not our favorite program ;)).

Still I can’t see why the very first thread in every forum, and the very first tutorial on every site geared towards artists, isn’t about callibrating the video settings of your computer. It really would save an aweful lot of people much heartache.

Don’t get me wrong. I figure in order for every single person to have a perfectly callibrated monitor, there would probably have to be a site set up, that’s more complex than any I’ve found(yet). Still a simple tutorial could fix it so they at least have a much better setup than what the natural settings of their monitors and video cards automatically provide.

This is another one of those situations where, we as consumers and computer users, are convinced we’re the ones doing something wrong, but it really isn’t the case.



If you scroll down on the page here NoNags you will find an interresting little freeware app called QuickGamma. Basically it automatically sets your gamma at the windows recommended setting. That setting’s not so good for art, or printing. However it does make for a pretty good jumping off point.


After reading this post, I found the freeware monitor calibration wizard (

I did the calibration but did not like the green tinge of the result. Am posting it here as someone else may have better luck with it.


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