Epson ColorBase and Non-Epson Papers
by Eric Chan
Last updated: October 1, 2007
Version 2.0 of Epson ColorBase adds support for the Epson Stylus Pro
3800. (It also supports the Stylus Photo R2400 and Stylus Pro 4800,
7800, and 9800.)
target printed on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper (left) and ColorChecker
The purpose of ColorBase is to calibrate your printer to a standard
Epson printer (presumably the factory state). It is mostly useful for
minimizing differences between multiple printers. You
can read more about ColorBase in this article by Michael
Reichmann. Also see the FAQ below.
ColorBase prints a calibration target containing several color
patches. The chart contains (scrambled) color density ramps of each of the
UltraChrome K3 inks (Black, Light Black, Light
Light Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, and Yellow).
Each density ramp contains 33 steps; since there are eight inks, the
complete chart has 264 color patches.
You can find Epson ColorBase in the support section on the Epson UK
site as well as on many other Epson sites (but not the Epson USA
Note that Epson ColorBase has no effect on the Advanced B&W Photo Mode.
The following is a copy of the Epson ColorBase FAQ:
What is Colorbase?
ColorBase is a calibration utility for your Epson printer. The utility
reduces differences in colour output between multiple Epson printers
of the same model or different models. The Epson printers can be
located either locally or at a remote location. Epson ColorBase can
also reduce the differences in colour output from one Epson printer in
a day to day use.
How can I use Epson ColorBase with my ICC profile workflow?
First calibrate your Epson printer with Epson ColorBase and activate
the calibration data. Your Epson printer matches now a standard Epson
printer. Then create and use your own ICC media profile or use the
supplied default Epson ICC media profile. When you recognize changes
in the colour output, you only create new calibration data. Afterwards
you can still use your already created ICC media profile or the
supplied default Epson ICC media profile.
I do not own a spectrophotometer, but I want to calibrate my Epson printer!
Print the test chart from Epson ColorBase Operation mode. Then send
the printed colour test chart to someone who owns an Epson ColorBase
supported spectrophotometer and so that he can measure your printed
test chart. The Settings mode with the option Create Calibration Data
is suited for the remote measuring. After the measurement and
calculation of the calibration data, the calibration data file can be
saved as a *.clb file. This *.clb file needs to be send back to you.
Then you import the calibration data file into your Epson ColorBase
application. You can do this with the Read button in the Settings
mode. Afterwards activate the calibration data with the Activate/ Do
Not Activate button. Now you can print to your Epson printer with the
calibration data applied.
How does Epson ColorBase calibrate my Epson printer?
For the reduction of colour differences, Epson ColorBase calibrates
your Epson printer to a standard Epson printer. First you print an
Epson ColorBase test chart. The test chart consists of 264 colour
patches. After a specific drying time you measure the test chart with
a spectrophotometer. Epson ColorBase compares the actual measurement
result with the ideal result of a standard Epson printer and
calculates the correction that has to be applied to your Epson printer
in order to match the standard Epson printer. These corrections are
saved in the calibration data file. The calibration data file is
inserted into your Epson printer driver's look up tables (LUTs) that
drive the colour halftoning process.
How often should I calibrate my Epson printer?
We recommend you to calibrate your Epson printer with Epson ColorBase
regularly every second week to every month. Additional calibration to
this time interval is necessary when you changed the ink cartridges or
the media lot number, when you transported your Epson printer or when
the environmental conditions changed a lot (i.e. in summer high
temperatures or humidity).
Where is the calibration data stored: In the computer or in the Epson printer?
The calibration data are linked to a certain Epson printer serial
number and black ink configuration and stored in the data folder of
Epson ColorBase. When you activate the calibration data, they
communicate with the Epson printer driver or Epson Stylus Rip printer
driver to influence the colour halftoning process. So the calibration
data are stored in the computer.
Shake the inks?
According to the ColorBase documentation, if you haven't used your
Epson printer for more than two weeks, you may get better color
accuracy if you shake the ink cartridges. That's right -- remove each
ink cartridge from the printer and shake it gently four or five times.
My guess is that this somehow redistributes the ink within the
cartridge so that it can feed the print head properly. Magic voodoo at
Here are two practical uses of ColorBase:
Suppose you run a print studio containing three Epson 3800 printers.
First, you calibrate each printer using ColorBase. Then, you
create custom profiles for each paper that you use. Since each
printer has first been calibrated by ColorBase, all three 3800
printers can share the same printer profile and will deliver the
same results. Regularly performing calibration will minimize
color differences between these printers.
Suppose you use several different papers on a single Epson 3800
printer, with an identical driver setup. For example, the
Velvet Fine Art media type at 1440 dpi works very well with
several matte papers: Velvet Fine Art, Photo Rag, German
First, calibrate your 3800 using ColorBase
and the Velvet Fine Art media type (which requires using
Velvet Fine Art paper for the calibration step). Then,
create custom printer profiles for all papers using this
configuration: Velvet Fine Art, Photo Rag, German Etching,
etc. Note that each paper requires its own profile.
Over time, printer behavior will drift (as the print
humidity changes, changes in ink batches, etc.). This
invalidates the printer profiles (and leads to color deviations) since the printer no
longer behaves the same way as it did when those profiles
were built. Recalibration using ColorBase will fix this
problem. Printing and measuring a single calibration target
is less expensive and much less time-consuming than creating
printer profiles for several papers.
You have to use Epson papers with ColorBase. That's because ColorBase
has an internal database of calibration target measurements -- one set
of measurements for each supported printer and media type. These
measurements correspond to the "factory standard Epson printer." You
can't use third-party papers because the measurements will differ
significantly from the ColorBase database and the software will report
ColorBase can still be useful for non-Epson papers, though. ColorBase
just writes calibration data that tells the driver how to lay down ink
(see FAQ above). This is done separately for each media type. This
means that if you calibrate your printer using the Premium Luster
media type, for example, then all of your prints made using this media
type will be controlled by the same calibration data. This is true
even if you're using non-Epson paper like Ilford Smooth Pearl. This
means that an image printed on Ilford Smooth Pearl using two different
calibrated printers will match closely, even if they're using the same
paper profile. How about that -- calibration doing what it's supposed