Part 4: Soft Proofing

In our previous tutorials, we introduced the concept of proofing for full color 3D Printing, along with setting up the soft proofing workspace. Now, we will look into how to actually soft proof using some simple adjustment techniques within Adobe® Photoshop®.

  1. Step 1: Soft Proofing Simple Images & Textures

    In the video link below, we will go through some techniques for working with simple images / textures. (See here for more information on 3D printing and applying textures to 3D models). Typically, the techniques shown are most effective for single or dual-color images.

    A written summary of the video below:


    • We will start by opening a new document
    • Press Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C and then Ctrl+N to make a new document. 
    • Next, press Ctrl+V to paste the selection in the new document.
    • Now go to Window > Arrange>2up to see the two windows side by side.
    • Now press Ctrl+Y to proof the colors simulating the Stratasys CMYK gamut


    • We will start with the blues. Go to Image> Adjustments> Selective Color.
    • Select the blues as the blue is darker. Let’s start by removing the magenta a bit and also the black.
    • Use the preview checkbox to see the before and after of the changes.


    • Open the Hue/Saturation tool by hitting Ctrl+U.
    • Adjust the values as appropriate.


    • Now it’s time to work on the greens.
    • Select the greens by going to Image> Adjustments> Selective Color.
    • I’ll remove a bit of the magenta, add a bit of yellow, and remove a bit of the cyan.
    • Hit W to select the magic wand tool directly and select the green.
    • Invert the greens selection by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I.
    • Hit Ctrl+H to hide the blues. And now any adjustments I make will be applied to the greens only, without affecting the blues.
    • Let's dial down the cyan, dial down the magenta, and crank up the yellow. Making the green more bright and slightly less black.
    • And that’s all done 
  2. Step 2: Soft Proofing Complex / Multi-color Images & Textures

    Now, we will look at some more advanced techniques for soft proofing single elements within an image:

     Summary of video below:

    Step By Step

    • We will start by duplicating the image
    • Press Ctrl+A, Ctrl+ C, and then Ctrl+N to make a new document.
    • Hit Ctrl + V to paste the original pattern into this new document.
    • And Ctrl+Y to proof the colors simulating the Stratasys CMYK gamut.
    • Now to make our proofing easier, go to View> 2 up to see the 2 versions side by side.


    • And if we hit Ctrl+Shift+Y, the program shows us which colors are outside of the SSYS gamut. (The title of the document window shows which color space is being used).
    • We will start by focusing on the reds.


    • By hitting W, we select the magic want tool directly.
    • The selection is not very good. We can review the selection by entering Edit in Quick Mask mode. 
    • Toggle between these modes Edit in Quick Mask Mode on or off with this mode.


    • We can hit Ctrl + click Select/ Ctrl + D to select or deselect the desired color.
    • Then choose from the menu Select> Color Range… 
    • Then choose the desired color again and select the desired fuzziness to include other, similar colors in our selection.


    • The selection is still not perfect.
    • View this by entering the Quick Mask mode. 
    • Modify the selection through the Select> Modify tool. Click on Smooth… Two pixels turn into one.


    • I'll click Ctrl+ H to hide the boundaries of the selection.
    • Image> Adjustments> Hue/Saturation…, or for short Ctrl+U.
    • We can adjust the sliders. Remember to use the preview toggle feature to check the effect of the adjustments.

    Another tool that we can use is:


    • Image>Adjustments. Let's go to Selective Color…
    • Select blue from the dropdown list.
    • Lower the magenta which makes the blue more magenta / purpleish. 
    • Add or remove black to make the color brighter or darker.
    • We can add cyan if needed to make it slightly more bluish,
    • And once again uncheck the preview button to validate the changes.


    • We can also combine various tools.
    • So if we have adjusted the color and we're still not happy with it, with our selection still active we can now incorporate another tool.
    • For example, the Brightness/Contrast tool simply adjusts the brightness to further tweak our end result
    • Done.

    That just about wraps up soft proofing. Why not check out a hard proofing tutorial next, where we move from the screen to a printed part.

    If you have questions or comments please let me know in the comments section below