A few posts back I went through how I calibrate my BenQ Monitor to ensure that I’m seeing and working on images displaying the correct colours. Now the obvious next step is to print the images but I think it’s fair to say that this is what causes the most headaches; matching what you see on screen to what you actually get when you print.
Without meaning to state the obvious you’re never going to be happy with your prints unless you calibrate your screens and do it regularly, and as a general rule I tend to calibrate my screen pretty much every time before I do any printing.
So now that we’ve done that, let’s look at the printing process…
Printing your Images
First off the printer I’m using at the moment is the Canon PIXMA Pro-10s; an A3+ Printer that uses 10 ink cartridges and I have to say I am blown away with the results. So why Canon? Simply because I was recommended it by friends in the industry and I saw the results it was producing. (I’m looking to get a Canon A2 printer later in the year when we move and I have purpose built studio space).
When it comes to software for printing although I use Lightroom, Capture One and Photoshop, I am getting pretty much perfect results using software that Canon provide called Canon Print Studio Pro (you can download it from HERE), so yes this I guess is really only relevant if you’re using Canon printers however there are a couple of settings I use that will be relevant regardless of what you use.
Canon Print Studio Pro
So once you’ve installed Canon Print Studio Pro you can choose to use it as a standalone piece of software or as a plug in; I prefer to use it as a plug in because my workflow is that I open the image I want to print in Photoshop, then resize to the dimensions I want to print it at then simply go to File > Automate > Canon Print Studio Pro…
When Canon Print Studio Pro starts this is where you then input Print Settings, the Layout and can input Colour Settings to ensure perfect prints. Any paper profiles you have installed can also be accessed from here as can the name of the paper you’re using.
Below you can see that for this particular print I first of all choose the printer then the paper type which is Canon’s Photo Paper Pro Luster and the size is A3.
In the Colour Management section I choose Use ICC Profile in the Colour Mode menu and then from the Printer Profile choose the corresponding paper profile.
The last thing to choose is the Rendering Intent; Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric. Now unless I printing images with crazy colours I tend to stick with Relative Colorimetric but just in case you didn’t know, here’s definition of each rendering intent that will help you to choose what you go for:
Compares the white of the source colour space to that of the destination colour space and shifts all colour accordingly. Out-of-gamut colors are shifted to the closest reproducible colour in the destination colour space. Relative colorimetric preserves more of the original colours in an image than Perceptual.
Aims to preserve the visual relationship between colour so it’s perceived as natural to the human eye, even though the colour values themselves may change. This intent is suitable for photographic images with out-of-gamut colours.
The BEST thing about Canon Print Studio Pro
Now of course you can go through the Soft Proofing process to finesse the look of your print (I’ve one a video going through this process in Lightroom HERE) but in Canon Print Studio Pro we can do what they call Pattern Prints…
By choosing pattern print, the software will print out a bunch of thumbnails and each with different settings applied. You can choose to print out a Pattern where the colours are altered OR the Brightness and Contrast. Now because I’ve Calibrated my monitor correctly I never have a problem with the colours that are printed but I do see differences in the Brightness and Contrast so this is the pattern type I go for. Once you have a pattern printed you can then look at each of the thumbnails and see which is the most accurate for what you want. Underneath it are the settings applied so then all you need to do (as you can see above) is input these settings, press Print and you’re done!
Pattern prints need to be done for each of the paper types you intend to use because different papers produce different results, so in my example I know that when I use Canon Photo Paper Pro Luster, in the Colour Settings before printing I set the Brightness to +20 and the Contrast to -10; for other papers such as Fine Art Papers etc, these settings will likely be different. Make sense?
Honestly, using this software and doing the pattern print, I have wasted NO paper; every print has been BANG ON!
Of course there are other ways to ensure great prints but no matter what method you use, one thing you MUST do is install and use the profiles for the paper you are using. In the next week I’m going to be trying out some new hardware that will go through a generic workflow regardless of the monitor and printer you’re using so I’ll make sure to share that once I’ve gone through it all.
Anyway, hope this helps but as always if you have any questions / comments then feel free to make use of the comments section below. Also if you have any other advice to share OR have suggestions for some great papers to use please do let me know.