Sometimes, it happens that a scanned photo, image or a graphic you created is not displayed with the correct colors. Or that it looks vastly different on your screen than later on when you print it.
The issue here, most likely, is the color profile of the PDF you were trying to display or print. Thus, check out the information below that will tell you more about PDF color profiles.
Color Profile & Color Space
As implied above, color profiles make sure that visual media is represented in a uniform way across different monitors, devices, and programs.
When it comes to printing, you as a user have more control over how the finished product should and will look like. When it comes to digital media, however, you have less control. Monitors and devices can be uncalibrated which can change the display of your work quite drastically.
What Are Color Profiles?
Color profiles or ICC profiles are made up of data that tells any display or printer device how the colors in a file should be represented. Without an accurate profile, a scanned image might look vastly different on your monitor even though it was scanned with the correct and desired colors.
There are several types of color profiles that have to work together under the color management in order to display colors of an image or photo correctly. This includes the monitor profile, input device profile, output device profile, and document profiles.
Despite the name, document color profiles are not applicable to PDFs. How do PDFs handle color profiles then?
Color Profiles And PDF
PDFs contain the color profiles of the images and other media inside the PDF. Adobe’s Acrobat Reader Pro allows you to check and change the color profile and color space of those. However, you could also check the metadata of a PDF to find out about the color profiles, such as Get-Metadata.com.
Usually, the sRGB color space is used as the default. It will represent any RGB graphic in this color space. For print, however, it’s more advised to use a CMYK profile. Thus, keep in mind the purpose of the graphic if you export it in the PDF format. Is it used for web and digital presentation primarily? Use the sRGB color profile. Is it used for print? Use the CMYK color profile.
Rule of Thumb: PDF for web and digital viewing: sRGB PDF for print: CMYK
Also, note that the embedded color profile can affect the file size of the PDF. While the sRGB color profile is usually rather small (about 3 KB), a CMYK color profile can be as big as 2 MB.