Color Management 101, Part III: Soft-Proofing in Photoshop

06/22/21 – Although the information is still accurate, this post has been updated for clarity:


This is the 3rd of 3 posts on implementing proper Color Management into your Photoshop workflow. In the first post, I discussed the Three Steps to Successful Color Management as well as how to properly Profile your Monitor. In the second post, I talked about Printer Profiles.

Now let’s talk about Soft-Proofing


Step 4 (Optional) – Soft-Proof Your Image in Photoshop (not available in Elements)

The purpose of Soft Proofing is a previewing procedure that Photoshop uses to “see” the results of your Printer Profile. In other words, it allows you to view on your calibrated and profiled monitor what your image will look like when it is printed (using your Printer Profile). This is truly WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get!

How it Works:

  1. Go to “View” ? “Proof Setup” ? “Custom”
  2. Go to “Device to Simulate” and select your new paper profile from the drop-down list.
  3. Rendering Intent should be “Relative Colorimetric” and “Black Point Compensation” should be checked.
  4. Leave both “Display Options (On-Screen)” unchecked.
  5. Click “OK”.
  • You can toggle this soft proof on and off by going to “View” ? “Proof Colors” or by using the speed key: Mac: “Command’ + “Y” or Windows: “Control” + “Y”.
  • Soft Proofing is active when the profile name shows up in the Document Window’s title bar.
  • You can save this soft proof setup by clicking on the “Save” button. The saved name will now show up in the list, “View” ? “Proof Setup”.

Gamut Warning:

A Gamut is the range of colors that a color system can display or print. If your image has an “out-of-gamut” color, that color will not print as it is shown on your monitor.

  • To set up the gamut warning: You should first choose a bright fluorescent color to show your out-of-gamut colors when the warning is active, such as Lime Green. To do this, go to “Preferences” (“Command”+ “K” on Mac, “Control” + “K” on Windows) ? “Transparency & Gamut” (From the menu on the left) ? “Gamut Warning” (double–click on the color box, and change to something like RGB 255/0/255 in the Color Picker).
  • To Check Gamut: Make sure that you are Soft-Proofing (A printer profile must be loaded), then go to “View” ? “Gamut Warning”. The areas that are out-of-gamut will show up as the fluorescent color you picked above.
  • To Correct: Use a “Hue/Saturation” adjustment layer to correct the out-of-gamut color until the fluorescent color disappears. You can do this either globally or locally with selection tools.
  • To Turn Off Gamut Warning: Go to “View” ?“Gamut Warning” and click it again. If you prefer, you can use the available speed key shown by the menu item.


Step 3 of the Three Steps to Successful Color Management, “Assure That You Have Proper Lighting Conditions and Perception”, is already covered in this post.



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Thx again, and cheers,

John Watts 🙂



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