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06/27/12 Media type is very important when working with custom paper profiles and the Epson 9900

Since mid 2011, I have been working with the i1 Publish profiling solution.  This included the i1 software, now at version 1.3.2 and the i1 spectrometer for scanning the printed test charts.  The process is very straight forward.  You pick the total number of color swatches you want to print which in my case is 1323.  Then save the chart and open it in Photoshop making sure you have all color management turned off.  Select the paper you wish to profile and the ink type, either Matte or Photo ink, then print off the test charts.  After they have dried for a day, then you use the i1 spectrometer to scan the colors off the test charts and then use the i1 Publish software to create your new icc profile based on the paper, ink type, and media used.

Note, I highlighted media.  The media you choose with an Epson printer has a definite correlation to the amount of ink that is laid down on the paper.  With Epson printers you have a large number of media settings both for Photo and Matte ink.  With thick matte papers, like Optica 1 from Breathing Color, the recommended media setting is water color radiant white, or WCRW.  When I printed my test charts, I used the WCRW media setting.  Note, it’s very important to write down on the printed charts the media setting you used and incorporate that into the icc profile name later on.

I had tested this new profile on a couple of sample prints, but for some reason I had forgotten to check the media setting I used when I created the test charts.  When I made the prints, I used the media setting Epson Ultrasmooth fine art instead of the WCRW setting.  I had been printing on the Ultrasmooth fine art paper the other day, and just left the media setting the same as I felt it would not make a big difference.  When I made a print with some deep blacks, I was really very disappointed.  The colors were all great except the areas that had deep blacks, mainly shadow areas.  Instead of a nice gradation, my black were all blotchy and just very harsh, no graduation.  It was like the printer had just laid down too much black in these certain areas.  The prints were not any good and I was really pulling my hair.  My first thought was that the profile I had generated had some errors, so I went back to the printed test charts and noticed the fact that I had printed with the media setting of WCRW not Epson Ultrasmooth fine art.  OOPs!

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05/25/12 Things always seem to fall apart when you need them the most!!

Do you ever have one of those days, where you think everything is in order, but when you start the job everything seems to line up for a problem. Today I had one of those type of days. I have been working an huge printing project for a local hospital. There are 8 total panels on canvas each is 35″ long and 70″ tall. I had proofed each panel and felt I was ready for the printing.  However as I started to print I ran to one problem after another, some being my fault, others out of my control.

  1. When printing large like this, you may miss some small imperfections, that will really not show up in a smaller version of a print.  One of these jobs was a long vertical waterfall coming down a series of boulders.  The image was created by using 2 vertical 35mm frames and combining them together to create one final image.  When I viewed the files, they seemed fine, however once printed large I did find some areas where the software I used to combine the files left some areas not blended very well.
  2. When printing out a large file always remember to view the preview screen.  For some reason the Epson print driver started to cut off my 70″ long prints at about 43″ but still ran out all the 70″ of canvas.  I finally was able to get around this by moving the printing to Lightroom 64 bit.
  3. UPS failures, during one print I had a power surge and it took out the UPS the printer was attached to.  At first I thought I might have lost the printer, but it returned with no problems.
  4. Canvas problems between lots of canvas.  If you are using a standard brand of canvas, I strongly recommend checking the lot numbers and making sure a shipment stays in one set of lot number.  I ran into a problem where I crossed two sets of lot numbers and most of the profiling and printer settings didn’t seem to work as well on the 2nd lot.

Overall the lesson learned here is you never really have everything under control.  It’s a rare day where everything swarms like it did today but it can happen.