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Check Your Monitor's Colors

How can you be sure the colors you see are a faithful representation of a print?  The best way is to have a color calibrated monitor.  Most graphics arts professionals have one, but the typical computer user might not.  The grayscale test pattern below gives a useful approximation to help you judge your monitor's accuracy.  The top row shows 21 gray steps from black to white.  The bottom three rows show one percent steps for highlights and dark shadows and ten percent gray steps.  

If your monitor is accurate, all the 5% steps in the first row should be visible.  The progression should be smooth, without sudden jumps in intensity.  Don't worry if you can't see the one percent steps, these usually show up only on very high-end displays.  All the patches should be neutral shades of gray with no unusual color casts.  If the shadow or highlight steps wash out, you won't be able to see similar tones well in the photos on this site.  Try adjusting your monitor's brightness and/or contrast, and tint if there are controls for that and you notice a color shift.  

If the highlights are washed out, reducing the brightness can help.  If there is little or no separation of the shadow patches, increase the brightness.  Once you can see as many patches as possible, adjust the contrast to brighten the display as much as possible without losing the separation of the patches.  

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Grayscale Test Pattern ęChris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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