Inkjet Printing Tips
Find below a series of digital inkjet printing tips/techniques that our technical department have constructed to help improve your digital prints and the process.
Feel free to share any digital imaging tips and techniques you have with us, please contact us and email your favourite methods.
TIP 1: Start with a good scan!
Your print will only be as good as your original scan (or digital camera image) allows. Most modern inkjet printers have the capability of producing 256 steps of density in each of it's colour channels when a professional inkset and matched printer profile is employed. Ensure that you are capturing not only enough pixels (resolution), but also enough density range.
The latest generation film scanners of 4000ppi tend to exhibit excellent Dmax. Remember to check not only resolution, but also dynamic range of a scanner/digital camera by comparing print output. We find that this is particularly noticeable when scanning for monochrome printing (we advise that you scan in RGB, even when scanning for mono).
Always scan in RGB. Always print in RGB. Your inkjet printer driver does not process CMYK or Greyscale mode as efficiently. Size up your image for printing in a resolution that multiplies easily up to the print resolution (file resolution 240ppi for a print resolution of 1440 DPI). Good file resolutions: 180, 200,240, 300 and 360ppi max. Orientate your print to portrait format before going to print. The fewer tasks you ask the print driver to perform, the faster your print will be.
Tip 2: Use Mini Test Prints!
Image editing software is a very efficient way to ruin good images! One of the most common digital printing errors is to over-adjust your image because you may only notice a change in appearance on your monitor after a fairly course adjustment. Often, extremely subtle adjustments are all that is required to optimise your printed image.
Remember that your printer is very sensitive to small changes, whereas your monitor may only show larger adjustments due to the more ''sluggish'' nature of the colour phosphors in some monitors. A great way to accurately gauge the print output change to a small adjustment is to produce miniature (A6) test prints: Reduce the size of your print file to A6 size (one quarter A4) without re-sampling. Make a note of the original image resolution.
Print a mini test print of the raw scan as test print number one, then carry out subtle changes as required, each time checking the result with another mini test print. Inspect your test prints at a few inches distance. When you are happy with your final test print, revert back to your original print size by entering the original ppi resolution.
Your will find that the finished print is a close match if held at arm's length, compared to your test print viewed close up. This method is very economical on ink, paper and time, allowing you to enhance an image with far greater accuracy than relying on the monitor alone.
Tip 3: Black and White Printing
It is best to use a dedicated black and white inkset to produce monochrome prints rather than trying to utilise your existing colour inkset. The latest inksets with a full strength black, light black and light light black can be accurately adjusted for neutrality (cooler or warmer) to suit the viewing conditions or personal preference.
You may also tone this print for sepia, selenium, in fact any subtle tone in the colour wheel. You may even sample an existing tonal combination from a favourite image: Use the eyedropper tool to sample the darkest tone in your donor image, then swap round the foreground/background, and eyedropper the lightest tone in your donor image. Swap foreground/background back again.
Go to your new image file. Desaturate, then apply gradient map. Your new image will carry the tones of the original, which may be modified to taste. This method tones your print with the hues of the original. Although not essential, using ICC printer profiles with these latest inks improves the 'smoothness' of tone from black to white, allowing you to produce darkroom hand print quality - so as long as good scans and techniques are employed.
When experimenting with tones on your images, use mini test prints (tip 2) to accurately evaluate each application of colour, and revert back to 'desaturate' between each application of tone, making a note on each test print how the colouring was achieved. This way, if you arrive at test print tone that works well, you know that you can repeat this on any new image, so long as you start from same state (desaturated).
Tip 4: Near photo-realistic vs Accurate Colour
Most modern inkjet printers produce near 'photo-realistic' colour - pleasant colours, which produce pleasing results for the consumer market, but increasingly, professionals and discerning enthusiasts are demanding true colour accuracy to the ICC (International Colour Consortium) protocol, which lays down a universally accepted standard for colour accuracy.
Rather than 'average out' differing subtle colour values as in near photo-realistic printing, where a beautifully detailed colour image may be reduced to relatively few colour print values, accurate ICC profiles, when written for a calibrated, stable inkset/media combination, results in each individual subtle colour variation being faithfully reproduced in your print.
Marrutt provide ICC profiles free of charge with their inksets, which are easily installed to Adobe Photoshop 5.0 full version or higher on PCs and Macs. Simply select the correct ICC print profile at the printer driver.
The profile works in the background to ensure accurate colour every time. One practical advantage with accurate ICC print profiles is that you may exchange files with other imaging professionals with confidence, knowing that if they are also use good quality ICC print profiling, their prints should match yours.
Other benefits: You tend to need a lot less image adjustment to achieve excellent prints, and the perceived image quality is much higher, and you produce a far better rendering of the real truth of your original colour file. Inkjet users who adopt the ICC system of colour management are usually very reluctant to go back to near 'photo-realistic' digital inkjet printing!
Tip 5: Print Longevity - The facts of life!
The truth - all prints fade... Whether conventional photographic, or various forms of digital printing, sooner or later, all colour and black & white prints start to show visible signs of fading.
Marrutt use strong pigment-based inks in conjunction with specially developed archival polymer media coatings, which give the inksets the maximum protection from harmful moisture, humidity and light exposure. Internal, laboratory and independent accelerated exposure tests show Marrutt ink and media combinations to be among the most resistant to fading in the industry.
We advise that you should take a few sensible precautions: Avoid displaying your prints where they would catch direct sunlight, and avoid extremes of temperature and humidity/moisture.
A light overspray with Marrutt Printguard waterproofs your print, making the image surface more durable, and extends the longevity.