Professional Colour Inkjet Printing In Three Easy Steps

How to create great professional quality colour inkjet prints in three easy steps

1. Use a photo quality pigment inkjet printer with good quality inks and papers..

2. Use a recent custom printer profile that you have checked, created specifically for your printer, your ink and your particular paper..

3. Print from great origination, and don’t ruin it with over-adjustment in Photoshop / Lightroom etc, or allow your monitor to persuade you to adjust or over-sharpen..

Explain Step 1:

Don’t us a cheap home or office printer – don’t use older dye-based printers, or a printer which is unable to deliver consistent inflows – your nozzle check print-out should be perfect at any time – if it is not, get your printer serviced, or service it yourself – we have great videos on our websites which will show you how..

Use only a modern inkjet pigment printer which creates accurate primary colours which lift off early and graduate smoothly up to the base colour of your paper, which if a production paper, should be a clean, pure white. Pigment inks tend to deliver more accurate neutrals, even in varying light conditions. – Don’t use compatible inks or cheap high street refill inks, use either approved OEM brand inks or reputable professional photographic inks.

Don’t use low quality inkjet papers, which often won’t allow you to achieve a good rich black (try print testing to see this for yourself). Insist on Professional Photographic Inkjet Papers with a clean pure white as a base colour, which have the correct coating that allows your inks to dry quickly, and graduate smoothly through the entire density range, in each colour channel, at the same rate (similar response curve characteristic).

Compatibles and cheap high street refill inks often produce abrupt, high-contrast prints which often lack a smooth response curve which we all look for in a good darkroom print. – Stay clear!

Explain Step 2:

Get your printer accurately custom profiled for your specific printer / ink / paper combination, check it’s accuracy on a regular basis (I would advise at least once a month) against a certified accurate calibrated colour print that your ink supplier will provide for you. Download this same image, and check that you get good agreement between the prints.

…Looking at our colour checking print, look out for A; a good rich black, B; clean pure white of the paper (remember, there is no such thing as white inkjet ink, so we rely on a clean white to produce our white wedding dresses etc! C; all primary colours achieving good accurate saturation which lifts off early and graduates smoothly without evidence of lumps or bumps in the graduations. – We don’t want to exaggerate colour, but we don’t want to understate your colours either – we look to achieve an accurate reproduction of the actual colours that you have captured. I advise that you use Adobe RGB 1998 as your working colour space, do not use sRGB as a working colour space, as this limits the scope of your colour reproduction, and your OEM brand or Professional Photographic Inks are easily capable of conveying Adobe RGB 1998 in ti’s entirety.

Once you are confident that your printer is accurate for colour and density, adjust your monitor manually (brightness, contrast, then Red, Green and Blue adjustment) to agree to your print, when viewed in correct daylight (I recommend 5000 degrees Kelvin)

Explain Step 3:

Work with plenty of pixels and dynamic range – which means an origination image which exceeds (say) 5MB when printing up to A5 or half US letter size. For A4 or full US letter size, I would advise around 10MB or more. Larger formats – larger files pro rata.

Make sure that your levels show a good spread of density tones appropriate to your image. – To guarantee this, print straight from a good level digital camera (TIFF or higher quality JPEG when you can) rather than a scan of a print or neg or transparency, unless you are working with great quality drum scans or similar for negs or trans.