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What Is an ICC Profile in Printing?: What It Does and How to Set It Up for My Large Format Printer

ICC profiles are a critical component of colour management in the printing process. As a file that contains information about how a particular device, like a printer or monitor, reproduces colour, it is essential to have a proper ICC profile setup for your printer. Without it, you cannot achieve the colour accuracy you seek in your prints.

If you're still asking yourself, What is an ICC profile in printing, then you've come to the right place. Utilise this step-by-step instructional guide on how to set up an ICC profile for your large format printer. Learn all about it and accumulate the appropriate knowledge and skills necessary to generate vivid images and printouts.

What Are ICC Profiles?

What is an ICC profile in printing exactly? International Colour Consortium (ICC) profiles are tools to standardise colours across devices. This helps ensure that an image will be consistent between your screen and your printed media.

Why Are They Important?

Colours can vary between devices, mediums, and ink. Without accurate ICC profiles to account for the differences, the colour you see on your screen and the colour in the printout may be inconsistent.

How Do ICC Profiles Work?

ICC profiles are used with special software to create accurate prints. They account for the differences between the devices, mediums, and inks to adjust how the image is printed, creating a true-to-colour print.

Understanding Colour Management in Printing

Colour management is the process of aligning the input, display, and output device colours. ICC profiles are a main element of colour management.

Colour Spaces

The phrase "colour spaces" is an umbrella term. It includes any of the input, display, and output devices used to visualise the image.

Colour Gamut

The term "colour gamut" refers to the range of colours that a device can create.

Why Accurate Colour Representation Is Important in Printing

If you don't use an ICC profile to ensure accurate colour representation, then you could run into problems. When choosing or designing an image, you see the colours as portrayed by your device's screen. If the colour spaces have a different gamut, the colours in the resulting print could be wildly different than you intended.

How Are ICC Profiles Used in Large Format Printing?

So, what is an ICC profile in printing for large format contexts? How is it different? They serve the same function, but the context tends to be different. Large format printing is more likely to deal with commercial prints for sale. This makes colour accuracy even more vital.

Achieving the Right Colour Representation

Large format printing has a wider variety of variables, like less common mediums, that can affect the colour representation. For example, a print will look very different on metal as opposed to acrylic. The process can take these factors into account to get the best ICC profile for printing with your devices.

Bringing Consistency Across All Devices

Large format printing is typically used by businesses that need maximum accuracy to print large signs, wall art, and other large media to sell to customers. So consistency is vital. They need to ensure that no matter what device they input images from, view them on, or print them with, the colours are the same.

How to Set Up an ICC Profile on Your Large Format Printer

Now that we've answered the question of what is an ICC profile in printing, we can move on to how they're used. Setting up an ICC profile on your large format printer should be easy. With the HP DesignJet Utility, it is. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Select Your Printer

Open the DesignJet Utility, and then use the pane on the left to select your HP printer.

2. Select Your Paper

Using the menu at the top, navigate to the Colour Center tab, and then click on the "create paper preset" option. Find the base paper preset that is the closest to your paper type.

3. Save Your Preset

Click the "next" button. Name the preset and click save. The preset will be available under the custom paper category on your printer. You'll then be asked, "Do you want to profile the new paper preset?" Select no.

4. Import Your Profile

Navigate back to the Colour Center home page and click Profile Management. Select the new paper preset you saved under Custom Paper. Click the Import profile icon at the bottom of the window, then click Select File. Browse your computer and select the third-party ICC profile you want to use.

Click “next” to load the ICC profile into your new paper preset. You may need to run Synchronise paper presets in Colour Center to enable it. There you have it! You're all set.

What to Consider When Setting Up an ICC Profile

When setting up your ICC profile, you'll want to do a few things to ensure the best results.

Adjust Your Printer Settings First

The settings can affect the output. They must first be optimised to get the proper results.

Calibrate Your Monitor, Mobile, or Other Printer Device

If your device isn't properly calibrated, then the display won't be true to colour. Proper calibration is necessary for accurate output.

Choose a Profile That Suits Your Printer and Print Media

The more specific the ICC profile, the better. Every printer is different, and even the print media can change the appearance of the colours. Choosing the right ones ensures the most accurate prints.

Common Troubleshooting Issues With Setting Up ICC Profiles

You may encounter some issues during setup. Let's go over some of the common problems people have and how to solve them.

1. Banding

When print head passes don't quite line up or overlap, banding may be visible. Banding is white or dark lines on the print.


To fix banding, run a paper feed adjustment and check for broken or clogged nozzles. These are the most common causes of banding. Once fixed, the problem should disappear.

2. Colour Shifts

Colour shifts are when the output colour is different than expected. This can be caused by the opacity of the ink, as well as other factors.


To fix colour shifts, first, make sure you have the proper ICC profiles for every factor, including output medium and ink. Then, make sure your colour system matches your colour mode. If your colour system is RGB, then use the RGB colour mode. If it's CMYK, use the CMYK colour mode.

3. Inconsistent Prints

Inconsistent prints happen when the colour varies from one print to another. This can cause each print to look different.


This can be caused by using different profiles from one print to another. Being able to answer the question What is an ICC profile in printing and knowing why they're so important should help you understand why this is an issue.

If you change print mediums between prints, you must also change the paper profile. When you use different colour spaces, this can have the same effect. If you use Adobe Photoshop to edit, for example, you have to make sure the colour management settings are correct for that colour space.

Reach Out to HP to Discuss Your Large Format Printer Needs

Do you need a large format printer? Want to learn more about using ICC profiles for large format printing, or do you need advice on the best ICC profile for printing to your specifications?

HP has a great selection of large format printers and dedicated, knowledgeable experts to help you find the right solution to meet your needs. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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