Over the years one of the largest hurdles for folks coming to a professional workflow for their inkjet printing involves how to set up the printing software and the print driver so that a paper profile is being used properly. Because operating systems and print drivers vary it’s nearly impossible to address each and every combination in detail. But there are some basic principles that apply no matter what printer or operating system you’re using.
The beginning point for this process, like many things in life, is actually before you even think about printing. When you’re making corrections and changes to your digital file you’ll want to be doing that on a good quality monitor that is calibrated and profiled. No matter what you do in the printing workflow, if you have made corrections on a monitor that is too bright your prints will end up too dark. Similarly if the monitor is too yellow, your prints will be too blue, and on and on. If you make corrections to a file on a monitor that is not calibrated and profiled you have no way to know if what you’re seeing on the screen bears even a slight resemblance to what you’ve actually done to the file. The only way you can effectively work on your files is by using a calibrated and profiled monitor. X-Rite produces display only color management solutions including ColorMunki Display and i1Display Pro that can calibrate and profile both monitors and projectors. These are newly designed state of the art colorimeters that double as ambient light measurement devices. Check them out at www.xritephoto.com.
Now that our file is prepared and ready to print it’s time to move on the profile we’ll need for our paper/printer/ink combination. ILFORD provides you high quality profiles for the most widely used photographic printers. In just a couple of simple steps you can download and install your paper/printer/ink profile. For simplicity’s sake we’ll call them paper profiles from here on but it’s important to note that these profiles are actually specific to the paper, printer, and ink you’ll be using. So let’s go get our paper profile and place it where software packages can find it.
First you’ll navigate to www.ILFORD.com. Select “Support” from the tabs at the top. You’ll see a dropdown menu there that includes “Printer Profiles.”
Log in or create your own personal ILFORD login. You’ll use this each time you want to access information on the site.
Choose the type of paper, your printer manufacturer, your particular model of printer, and the surface of paper you’re planning to use. You’ll see the download link appear once these options have been selected. A .zip file will be downloaded. Simply expand that file to reveal a folder within which are two files.
One file is the actual profile and the other is a READ ME file that gives you instructions on exactly where to install the profile on your system so that programs like Adobe Photoshop can find the profile for selection when you initialize the actual printing process. Follow these instructions carefully to install the profile in the correct directory in your particular operating system. And be sure that all Adobe programs are closed or restarted after this process is accomplished. If you install a profile into a directory with an Adobe program open, that program will not be able to “see” the profile until it has been closed and restarted.
This READ ME file also includes settings for how to use the profile in software packages like Photoshop, Elements, and Lightroom. In addition this same file gives you important information for setting the print driver after you’ve configured the software properly and have initiated the printing process.
No matter what operating system, software package, or printer, paper and ink combination you’re using there are four main things you must set properly in a custom printing workflow.
- Select the appropriate profile properly in the software package. Remember you’ll want to use the profile that is appropriate for your particular printer, paper, and ink combination.
- In the printer driver select the media type. This is the “kind” of paper you’re using… for instance ILFORD GALERIE Smooth Pearl.
- Select the resolution for printing. Again printer drivers will vary on how they describe this setting. See the READ ME file you download for more specific information for your particular situation.
- TURN COLOR MANAGEMENT OFF. This imperative refers to turning off color management in the printer driver. This seems counter intuitive for some because what we’re actually trying to accomplish is … well… color management!
Whether you use the high quality profiles provided by ILFORD or use color management solutions like X-Rite i1Photo Pro, i1Publish Pro, or ColorMunki Photo to make custom printer profiles, setting the printing software and the printer driver properly is essential to getting accurate predictable quality from your paper, printer, and ink combination. Taking the time to set the media type, resolution, and turn color management off in the printer driver gives YOU control of the printed output. This workflow combined with a calibrated and profiled monitor and good print viewing light can improve your “screen to print” match on your inkjet prints tremendously.
Step up from the ordinary. Use ILFORD GALERIE inkjet media for your photographic printing and see the difference. Check out print permanence ratings recently published by Wilhelm Research.