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Color Management System (CMS)

Definition - What does Color Management System (CMS) mean?

A color management system (CMS) is a collection of software tools used to ensure that colors remain the same regardless of the medium or device used for displaying the colors. As color is dependent on devices and as different devices make use of different technologies to produce colors, consistency in color across mediums is a big challenge. A color management system is used in devices such as scanners, monitors, image setters and printers.

Techopedia explains Color Management System (CMS)

The focus of any color management system is to ensure that different applications, devices or operating systems display colors consistently. The color one sees on a device depends on the device producing the color. In other words, color is device dependent. A scanner could interpret an image with certain RGB values, which may differ from the color interpretation of a monitor displaying the RGB colors. Different values need to be sent to the different devices in order to achieve consistent results. For this, transformations are required which are performed with the help of equations, tables or other similar tools. In fact, the quality to produce colors of many products is judged by the ability to do these color transformations.

One of the techniques employed by color management systems to achieve these transformations is by making use of color profiles. A color profile is a mathematical representation of a color space found in a device. In a different device, this color space is then translated and transformed into the necessary color as needed. However, a single color-translation method has not been found ideal for all graphic types, and as such, any color management system is provided with the choice of translation methods to specific graphic elements. A color management system is not required if a single medium is used for color representation. Color management is used when reusing color graphics for online or print media along with using different kinds of devices.

Color management systems have many benefits associated with them. They help in achieving consistent and predictable color output in different devices, and also help in sending color documents to different devices without manually adjusting the original graphics or settings on the device to which it is being sent.

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