In previous blog articles, we introduced you to the basics of colorimetry and presented you with practical advice to properly prepare your print files. We are now addressing the last step of the process, printing images on paper.
Once your images have been processed using a properly calibrated screen and the layout is done in a professional software such as Adobe InDesign, it’s time to focus on bringing them to life on paper. To do so, we recommend that you carry out numerous tests and follow the advice in the paragraphs below.
How About Printing Your Fine Art Prints at Home?
Everything we are going to write here does not apply to Rapido’s CMYK printing process, it only applies to fine art prints on inkjet presses designed to print photographic imaging. You won’t be able to simulate the colour of your next book cover on your inkjet press if you are not printing it with Rapido. In fact, we are talking about printing processes with different gamuts, so comparing them would not make any sense. Rapido prints in four colours (CMYK), while inkjet presses for fine art prints use eight to twelve colours.
Discover Our Series of Articles on Colorimetry:
Which Printer Should You Use at Home?
First of all, we strongly advise against laser printers. These devices are not designed to print quality images. These are office printers that are primarily designed to print text. The inks used by these printers do not last more than a few weeks in daylight, whereas pigmented inks used by Epson for its inkjet printers guarantee a one-hundred-year resistance.
If you want further information on this topic, we recommend reading B&H’s blog: “How to Pick a Photo Printer”.
Clarification About the Colour Rendering on Paper
When reproducing details in very saturated areas, you encounter two limits linked to the depth of the blacks (which is why inkjet printers use one or even two grays in addition to the black) and to the whiteness of the paper. The saturation of the pigments also comes into play and, when printing in a four-colour CMYK process, only 50% of the colours perceived by our eyes are reproduced. This is especially noticeable for saturated oranges and purples. We advise you to gather information from users because some printers can reproduce more shades in darker colours.
A Very Interesting Lightroom Function
If you use the Lightroom software, as many photographers do, the soft proofing function will allow you to better visualize the final rendering. To do so, select the profile for the printer-paper combination you are going to use. In the “Development” module, simply click on the “Soft proofing” box at the bottom left of your screen or hit the S key (keyboard shortcut). The background of the screen will turn white. Don’t forget to check the Simulate paper and ink box in the “Soft proofing” window at the top right.
Since my role is not to teach you how to use Lightroom, I suggest that you invest in online training. There are dozens of them. Personally, I have been using Lightroom for ten years and I have lost count of all of the training I took to understand its features. There are so many of them that not a single teacher is able to present all of them in depth. I always find it interesting to mix the different teachers’ approaches in order to learn more.
Examples of Trainings:
Papers and Their Specificities
While the digital files of your images are very important during the publishing process, paper is also an essential material for your future book and should therefore be carefully chosen. It will allow your work to be consulted and admired without deteriorating over time.
Which Paper Should You Use for Your Fine Art Prints?
There is so much to say on the subject that we could easily write several articles about it. There are two main categories of paper for fine art prints:
1) Coated papers: they allow for a more saturated rendering. Their gamut is wider than uncoated papers. There are different finishes: matte, satin, pearl, iridescent or glossy. These mediums are ideal for images with a high saturation.
2) Uncoated papers: there are several varieties. Baryta paper replicates the look of older baryta photo papers. Photographers appreciate this paper a lot, mostly because it offers beautiful renderings, even if the gamut is narrower.
What is the Difference Between the Paper’s Quire and its Grammage?
When we talk about the quire, we are actually talking about the thickness. The bigger the quire, the stiffer the paper. Remember that it is not necessarily proportional to the weight of the paper, usually expressed per square metre (g/m² or gsm = grammage). For this reason, a coated paper will always seem thinner to you than an uncoated paper of equivalent weight. In publishing, there are, for example, offset papers with a quire greater than 2, which means that an 80 gsm paper will have a thickness equivalent to a 160 gsm.
If you want further information on this topic, we recommend reading our blog article:
“Choosing the Right Paper for Your Book”.
For your fine art prints, you should never use a weight lower than 160 gsm. We even recommend that you never go below 200 gsm.
Grain: some papers (papyrus, vellum) can have strong structures, some of which resemble canvas. We do not really recommend using this type of paper, but it all depends on your taste and the rendering you want.
- A 300 g satin paper for landscapes or wildlife photography;
- A 300 g matte rag paper for B&W portraits.
Printing Your Book with Rapido
A single colour profile is sufficient for all paper, the US web coated swop v2. Why don’t we use one profile per paper type? Because the gamut of our CMYK four-colour presses is more restricted than the one of printers designed for fine art prints and the benefit of this fineness is therefore not necessary.
Does your project raise more specific questions than those addressed on this page?
The answers can surely be found in our complete printing guide. Click here and download your free copy:
Want to get off to a good start in creating your print files?
Find the main properties to respect in this JOBOPTIONS file that we have specially prepared for you:
You now have all the advice you need to efficiently set up your production line and produce quality prints. There is no greater pleasure for a photographer than making a book or a fine art print. You do not take photos to leave them on your hard drive.
- First of all, calibrate your screen at least once a month, you simply need to put a reminder in your agenda;
- If you have a printer at home, we recommend that you print at least once a week to keep your equipment in good working order and to get more and more meticulous with your work;
- Train regularly with top-level teachers. You can now access advice from the best for less than a hundred dollars. It’s exciting, and it’s definitely the key to reach your true potential. The author of this article even takes four to six online training courses per year;
- Be open to constructive criticism when it comes from more experienced photographers. It is by playing tennis with the best players that we progress more quickly. For this, we recommend that you sign up for photo clubs or join groups on online platforms. And if your first experience doesn’t really satisfy you, don’t be discouraged, look for another group. You will eventually find people with whom you can build trusting relationships and why not make new friends along the way.