Zygomatic Color

Zygomatic Color

Build a custom ICC profile for your printer now!

You don’t need:

You need:

What you’ll get:


The left and right both are the prints from an EPSON 6-color common inkjet printer using compatible inks.

How does it go?

  1. Choose the paper size you want to use.

  2. Download and print a PDF (Step 1).

  3. Scan and upload the print (Step 1).

  4. Download and print a PDF (Step 2).

  5. Scan and upload the print (Step 2).

  6. Wait ten minutes.

  7. Download a PDF and evaluate the quality of the ICC profile. Not satisfied? See you again…

  8. Pay 50 USD excl. VAT for the ICC profile and get it! 15-day money-back guarantee.

Choose your paper size

Zygomatic Color investigates your printer from its print. You need to print test charts.

Large PaperSmall PaperPhone Blank

Who am I, what have I found, and what is this?


I’m running a custom keycap shop DecentKeyboards on Etsy. I print color images on blank PBT keycaps using 3D dye sublimation heat transfer. There are quite a number of problems with the work. Color reproducibility is a serious one.

The common color management solution for inkjet printers is focused on common printing, i.e. printing on paper. The cost of printing on paper is very cheap. A few dollars per letter sheet in most cases. But 3D dye sublimation costs much more. A blank iPhone case costs about $2, and the print area is one-eight the size of a letter.

Moreover, dye sublimation heat transfer isn’t very stable in terms of tone reproduction. It fluctuates depending on the temperature of the inkjet printer, the recent behavior of the inkjet head (there is a hysteresis), and the temperature distribution of the heat vacuum/press machine. The fluctuation is almost invisible to the human eye, but it critically disturbs primitive ICC profile builders. If you make ICC profile of dye sublimation heat transfer by primitive profile builder, its tone reproduction curve will be miserably serrated, and the profile will make smooth gradation miserably mottled.

One more problem: a good colorimeter is expensive. Even a sketchy, inaccurate one (worse than a photo scanner in every way) costs $200. A good one starts at $500 (X-Rite EOSTUDIO).

So I studied color management, and I found that common flatbed photo scanners offer great stability and good accuracy for my purpose. It is not a competitor for a $500 colorimeter in terms of accuracy, but the disadvantage is not fatal for my purpose. Scanners also have several advantages too. The most important advantage is the shape of the measurement area. Most colorimeters measure only a circular area, but a scanner can measure any shape of area. It makes it possible to manage tone reproduction fluctuation by using a much smaller print area. It also makes it possible to automatically correct dust, scratches, stains, etc.

These findings led me to the idea of Zygomatic Color. It is:

Reasonable accuracy

There are several levels of color management.

  1. Root-mean-square (RMS) of ΔE00 ≦ 1. This requires a thermostatic chamber, a $10,000 colorimeter, a light booth, and a few experts. In most cases, only a good colorimeter can distinguish level 1 from level 2.

  2. RMS of ΔE00 ≦ 2. High-end inkjet printers with genuine photo paper offer this level. The paper and inks may look expensive, but in my eyes this is an extraordinary bargain. Please don’t ask me for such a bargain :-)

  3. Common home / business inkjet printers. The accuracy is overkill for most people who don’t know about ΔE00.

  4. Color laser printers. Perfect for PowerPoint and Excel.

Without proper color management, dye sublimation heat transfer is around level 4. Zygomatic Color offers better than level 3. But level 2 is impossible, because common inkjet printers and heat vacuum / press machines don’t have such stability. Scanners also have its weakness. In a narrow but non-negligible region, ΔE00 > 3 after calibration.

Reasonable price

50 USD excl. VAT via PayPal. Zygomatic Color offers an evaluation PDF before your payment. You can print the PDF on your blanks, and inspect them. You don’t need to pay if you are not satisfied with the quality. After your payment, you can get refund up to 15 days.

The evaluation PDF contains:

The deliverables, including the ICC profile itself, are freely redistributable. This may not sound great for you, but it is a bargain in this industry. Ask big companies about the price of the redistribution license. The answer will remind of you the saying: If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.

Reasonable hassle

Unfortunately, “ICC profile” is hard to learn. You may know about color space. Adobe RGB and sRGB are both color spaces, and the former is wider, for example. ICC profile is much more thing. Do you know that “Perceptual” conversion is written in ICC profile, and only in device profile? You can see “Perceptual” option in Photoshop when converting sRGB to Adobe RGB, but the option is fake and has no effect in this case. Steve Upton describes about tons of traps around ICC profile in his nice articles, Color Management Myths.

How to use ICC profiles

If you have Photoshop or a fancy color management system, they will know the way. GIMP can do it too.