Why do my monitors all look different? Which one is right? How to fix?
November 23, 2021 9:32 PM   Subscribe

I have four monitors all with the same wallpaper and the colour looks different in each (e.g. the blue vs. cyan shade of the sky). Since I do photo/illustration stuff on the computer, i want to know what the colour will look like when it comes back from the printer. I need the colour on a Wacom One to be accurate, and hey why not the other 3, too? Oh yeah, free.

I have run the windows colour calibration on the monitors, and tried some other calibration tools, too. How do I get, at least the tablet, to be colour accurate as far as possible. This is just a hobby so I'm not looking to spend a bunch on a device to calibrate my monitors.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You really need hardware to do this correctly. I haven't messed with color calibration myself, but DisplayCAL seems like a good place to start, as far as open-source software that makes it possible to use a wide range of (potentially inexpensive, potentially very expensive) sensors for calibration.
posted by Alterscape at 10:02 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]

The short answer to "how do I do this for free" is that you can't. Accurate colour calibration requires a physical device, a colorimeter, to measure the display on your behalf. Your eyes lie and adapt.

Fortunately, as mentioned, DisplayCAL and a tool called ArgyllCMS exist, that can interface with a lot of common colorimeters, including old ones that will be available much more cheaply.

For going even further down the deep rabbit hole of colour management, depending on how accurate you actually want your colours to be, once you've gotten a colorimeter and profiled your display and loaded the ICC profile into your OS, you'll want to talk to your printer as well to get a ICC profile for the printer hardware they're going to be using, and probably get a reference viewing light with the same white point as your displays (6500K, probably).
posted by aurynn at 1:09 AM on November 24 [8 favorites]

You might be able to rent or borrow a colorimeter from somewhere (maybe the library?). Or have somebody come out and do it for a reasonable fee. I don't think its something you have to do like every day/week.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:07 AM on November 24

Free answer: order a few prints and compare them to your Wacom, then adjust the Wacom to match the print you ordered.

Right answer: Buy a calibrator. Damien Symonds knows what he's talking about when it comes to calibration for photography. Here's a link to his recommended devices, updated Oct. 2021.
posted by hydra77 at 9:52 AM on November 24

Plus, check the settings on each screen to check they're not set to different colour temperatures or colour balances.
posted by k3ninho at 4:36 PM on November 24

Ditto on the calibrator. It's the ONLY way to do it right.

You may even want to calibrate to a printout, if you want to get REALLY precise and you know what device you'll output to. I'll leave it up to the experts to explain it, as it involves calibrator and a printer, and possibly a scanner.
posted by kschang at 12:32 AM on November 25

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