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ICC White Papers

ICC White Papers provide useful information on color management. Each White Paper is prepared by ICC members, and either expands on the information provided in the specification, or provides more general information.

All the White Papers have been discussed in detail within the membership and hence represent the view of the ICC, which may not be the case with documents elsewhere on the web site. White Papers should therefore be considered as authored and approved by the ICC as a whole.

Questions and comments about ICC White Papers should be sent to the ICC Technical Secretary


WP7: ICC profiles in a colour reproduction system
This paper introduces some of the issues in colour reproduction and discusses how ICC profiles may be used in achieving successful reproductions. Further detail on many of the topics covered will be found in other papers on the ICC web site.

WP3: Recommendations for colour measurement
In order to prepare a useful device profile based on the ICC Specification, it is essential to measure color accurately and consistently. This White Paper summarizes the issues users should consider when making color measurements for the purpose of constructing ICC profiles, and describes recommended practices.

WP5: Glossary
This glossary of terms contains definitions of terminology commonly used in colour imaging (including digital photography and printing), colour reproduction and management, and colour and density measurement.

WP19: Reasons to use ICC version 4 in PDF/X
The ICC produced version 4 of the profile format specification primarily to address a number of problems that users were experiencing when using version 2 ICC profiles. This document explains some of the reasons to move to version 4, and discusses the need for a change to the PDF/X specification to allow (and recommend) the use of ICC version 4 profiles.

WP20: Digital photography color management basics
Photographers know that the world we live in and view is difficult to record on film, or even using a digital camera. The actual scene we attempt to photograph may go beyond the recording capability of our cameras, and beyond the ability of output devices to reproduce. This paper describes the steps that an image undergoes from raw camera capture to rendered output and data encoding, and explains some important terms such as terms scene-referred and output-referred colorimetry.

WP17: Using ICC profiles with digital camera images
There are two kinds of ICC profiles that can apply to image files created by digital cameras: color space profiles and input profiles. Pictures usually don't match the scene from a color measurement, or even necessarily an appearance standpoint. Scene-to-picture color processing is called "color rendering". In this paper some of the details of this process are described, and the options for profiling digital cameras are discussed.

WP24: ICC Profiles, Color Appearance Modeling, and the Microsoft WindowsTM Color System
Microsoft has announced that the new Microsoft WindowsTM Color System (WCS) will use the CIECAM02 color appearance model, and run-time color rendering, in which the color transforms to be applied to source [input] files are determined after the output devices are known. WCS will for the first time bring Version 4 ICC support to a Microsoft OS.

WP23: RGB Color Managed Workflow Example
Today's abundance of RGB source art such as digital illustrations, photos, and digital art is routinely 'repurposed' (redirected for different outputs). RGB color encodings are well suited to these requirements, as they tend to be closer to the original source of the image. The general principle of the 'late binding' workflow described in this White Paper is to keep as close as possible to the source encoding until as late as possible in the workflow, using ICC profiles to implement the necessary conversions.

WP47: The value of iccMAX
iccMAX is a color management interchange format that addresses use cases beyond those addressed by the ICC v4 (ISO 15076-1) color management profile format. ICC v4 is widely used today, is straightforward to use and is uniformly implemented across a large number of different software applications from different vendors. In other applications, however such as managing digital photographs or color managing packaging in store lighting conditions, v4 is missing some key features which are available in iccMAX. This paper is addressed to end users of color management systems, and is intended to be used to decide when an iccMAX rather than ICC v4 is the appropriate choice.


WP4: Color management overview
Color management is the communication of the associated data required for unambiguous interpretation of color content data, and application of color data conversions as required to produce the intended reproductions. This White Paper provides a conceptual overview of colour management and its evolution, and a summary of color rendering options.

WP6: Differences between v2 and v4 display profiles
In version 2 of the ICC specification, adaptation of the user to the display white point was not specified, and different profiles for the same display can produce different results. Version 4 of the ICC specification requires that v4 display profiles assume the viewer is fully adapted to the display white point. This White Paper explains the requirement for display tristimulus values to be chromatically adapted to the PCS white point and the use of the chromatic adaptation matrix to undo the chromatic adaptation and obtain the actual display tristimulus values.

WP9: Common color management workflows & rendering intent usage
ICC color management supports a wide variety of workflows that can be used for many purposes. Different ICC profiles and different rendering intents can achieve a variety of color reproduction goals. This paper documents some common workflows, and provide advice about rendering intent usage.

WP14: Summary of CIE Publication 163 on fluorescence in imaging media
This report contains results from a study of the measurement of total spectral radiance factor of digital halftone printing over a range of substrates exhibiting various levels of fluorescence. It concludes that colour measurements of materials containing fluorescent dyes and pigments will not have the level of reproducibility and accuracy which may be claimed for them.

WP21: Profile Compliance Testing - SampleICC Implementation Notes
Providing a test specification is not straightforward since the tests are not defined in the profile specification and can be context specific. Rather than provide a complete profile testing specification, this White Paper describes issues of profile conformance testing that were identified in the SampleICC project.

WP22: Precision and Bias of Spectrocolorimeters
This white paper is taken from a series of two papers in the literature that describe how to assess inter-instrument agreement of spectrocolorimeters. It also gives as an example, the results of a recent inter-comparison study of four bidirectional, handheld spectrocolorimeters.

WP26: Using the v4 sRGB ICC profile
The sRGB v4 ICC preference profile is a v4 replacement for commonly used sRGB v2 profiles. It gives better results in workflows that implement the ICC v4 specification. This paper describes the benefits of the new profile, and gives guidance on its use.

WP40: Black-point compensation: theory and application
Black Point Compensation (BPC) is a technique commonly used in color-managed workflows based on ICC profiles. This paper provides a general explanation of the BPC concept and its use in ICC systems. The methods in this WhitePaper have been published as ISO 18619, which now supersedes this White Paper.

WP42: Using the sRGB v4 ICC appearance profile
The sRGB v4 ICC appearance profile (the Appearance Profile) is a profile positioned as a v4 replacement for commonly used sRGB v2 profiles. It gives better results in workflows that implement the ICC v4 specification. It is intended to be used in combination with other ICC v4 profiles.

WP46: Improving Color Image Quality in Medical Photography
In modern medicine, image colors provide valuable information that should be properly captured and displayed to the final viewer so they can render the most accurate diagnosis possible. This article provides guidance to medical color image users for achieving the best possible color reproduction on a digital display.


WP1: Perceptual rendering fundamentals
ICC Version 4 differentiates clearly between perceptual rendering and colorimetric rendering so that the applications appropriate for each of these rendering intents are clarified. Improved workflows can be achieved by exploiting these clarified rendering intent definitions.

WP2: Perceptual rendering intent use case issues
The perceptual rendering intent is used when a pleasing pictorial color output is desired, while the colorimetric rendering intents maintain in-gamut colors across media. This paper discusses ways of using the features of the Version 4 specification to achieve a range of different colour reproduction objectives.

WP18: Implementation Notes for the IccProfLib CMM in SampleICC
The SampleICC project is an open source object oriented C++ development effort. This document complements the IccProfLib class documentation by describing how the objects interact when applying profiles. (Revised September 2005)

WP44: Visualization of colour on medical displays
This document focuses on results and recommendations for the correct use of ICC profiles for visualization of grayscale and color medical images on color displays.

WP45: Calculator programming
This white paper provides an introduction to the expanded capabilities of programming with ICC Multi-Process Element Calculator Elements using the XML representation if of iccMAX profiles provided by iccFromXML tool in the RefIccMAX toolset. Familiarity with the iccMAX specification is assumed. (Revised March 2018)