What is an ICC Profile?
An ICC profile is a file that describes how a particular device reproduces colour. It describes the device's colour space. ICC profiles can be created for three types of devices: a display device (monitor), an input device (a scanner or digital camera), or an output device (a printer). A profile that accurately characterises a device gives you the best results in a colour-managed wokflow.
ICC profiles can be either generic or custom. Generic profiles are created by the device manufacturer. For example, Best provide a generic ICC Profile for each of the media types available for use with Oki's C9500GA printer. In this case, Best create the profile by using profiling software and instruments to examine the colour characteristics of a group of the same devices (C9500GA printers) under controlled conditions. The generic profile that comes with a device (C9500GA printer) is not specific to that device or its working conditions. However, it is specific to the paper type used.
Custom profiles describe a specific device under set working conditions. Typically, custom profiles are created by using a colour measuring instrument, such as a spectrophotometer or colorimeter, and its companion software. Third-party software applications let you create an ICC Profile by using a spectrophotometer or colorimeter to characterize an output profile for your printer.