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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.

You can rate a White Paper or make comments or suggestions on the comments page. You can also send questions and comments to the ICC Technical Secretary


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. (Revised June 2021

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. (Revised June 2021)

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.

WP49: The history of the ICC
This paper documents the history of the ICC from initial meetings between a small group of vendors in the early 1990's to an international not-for-profit consortium of companies involved in colour management, together with honorary members in the university sector. Early debates with the ICC on intellectual property rights, the profile format, processing elements and the profile connection space are described.

WP54: Introduction to Interoperability Conformance Specifications
ICC has introduced the Interoperability Conformance Specification (ICS) as a key element in the ICC.2 color management architecture (also known as iccMAX). ICC.2 is a significant leap forward in the flexibility and functionality that can be included in a color managed workflow. ICC envisages that ICS documents will reduce the burden of implementing ICC.2 through application-specific element sub-sets and well-specified connections. This should enable profile creators to employ a well-defined transform model and also enable CMM developers to target development efforts to specific applications.

WP55: Profiling using colorimetry for D65 and 10 observer
In ICC color management the Profile Connection Space (PCS) is CIE colorimetry based on the D50 illuminant and the CIE 1931 2-degree observer. However, many industries employ colorimetry based on the D65 illuminant and the CIE 1964 10-degree observer. The purpose of this document is to recommend an approach that can be used to enable D65/10 color reproduction while retaining interoperability with other v4 profiles. It also outlines additional possibilities available with ICC version 5 (iccMAX) color management.

WP57: Introduction to core ICS specifications
ICC has developed a set of Interoperability Conformance Specifications that meet a wide variety of needs beyond what can be accomplished in ICC.1. Each of these ICSs is published in a multi-part series, in which there is a range of different levels of functionality and complexity. Basic-level ICSs generally support only the standard D50 PCS, while higher-level ICSs also provide for conversion between a custom PCS and the standard PCS. In the highest level ICSs the calculatorElement is also supported in order to achieve the functionality offered by that ICS.


WP4: Color management overview Updated Oct 2020
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 Updated Oct 2020
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.

WP27: Evaluating color transforms in ICC profiles
ICC input and output profiles contain transforms between device data encodings and the ICC PCS. These transforms should provide either an accurate color match or a pleasing rendering, depending on the chosen rendering intent. This document makes recommendations for the evaluation of the colorimetric and perceptual rendering intent transforms in ICC v4 profiles.

WP31: Flexible color management for the graphic arts using PDF
Adobe?s Portable Document Format (PDF) is widely used for documents intended for print production. This white paper deals with some of the issues faced by graphic arts professionals when creating and processing PDF documents.

WP36: Embedding and referencing ICC profiles
To ensure that the colour data in an image or document is correctly interpreted, many file formats permit an ICC profile defining the image source or destination to be embedded into the file or referenced by means of a Uniform Resource Indicator (URI). ICC profiles can be embedded or referenced in a wide range of file formats. This paper summarises the mechanical details of such operations, and provides pointers to sources of more detailed or comprehensive information.

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.

WP51: Making connections with iccMAX
This document is intended for people who want to have a rudimentary understanding about what it means to connect and work with ICC profiles and especially iccMAX profiles. It is not primarily about implementing CMM?s nor is about what is put in a profile or profile creation. The main focus is about how one configures profile connection and profile usage with a fairly high-level description of basically what the CMM is doing when profiles are connected (while contrasting and expanding upon profile connection using version 2 and version 4 ICC profiles).


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. WP1 was revised in February 2012

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)

WP25: Color management implementation classification
This paper provides a definition of Color Management that can be used in the analysis of different architectural implementations. It then presents a general high-level architecture for Color Management and outlines a continuum for comparing different architectural implementations. Different categories of architectural implementations are identified and compared using this continuum.

WP28: Introducing the New multiProcessingElements Tag Type
The multiProcessingElements Tag type was added to ICC v4 in 2006 and is included in the 4.3 specification ICC.1:2010. This new tag type allows for the direct encoding of floating point data in an ICC profile, and removes bounding restrictions for both device side and PCS encoding ranges. It also provides for more flexibility in encoding transforms.

WP35: Use of the parametricCurveType
The parametricCurveType, introduced in v4 of the specification, can be used to encode a wide variety of different functions. Profiles using the parametricCurveType can contain a wide range of possible parameter sets, and if care is not taken with their selection, some possible parameter sets can create computational problems for a CMM. This paper aims to provide some guidance for both the profile creator and the CMM developer.

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 (GSDF) and color medical images on color displays. These recommendations allow for visualization of medical content on color display systems, whereby DICOM GSDF images, pseudo color images and color accurate images can all be presented effectively on the same display. The results and recommendations in this document were first discussed in the ICC Medical Imaging Working Group (MIWG). (Revised October 2023)

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)

WP52: iccMAX calculatorElement Security Implementation Notes
The purpose of this paper is to provide those that both implement and utilize CMMs that support application of iccMAX profiles containing calculator processing elements an understanding of the security risks involved and implementation guidelines to mitigate such risks and provide predictable results. Three aspects of a calculator element are explored: parsing, validation, and application.