Friday, April 6, 2007

How I Print My Images

I am often asked what printer and paper I use to print images. I am currently using the Epson 9800 with Ultrachrome inks. Since I print exclusively on matte surfaces I use the matte black ink instead of the photo black ink. I print both on fine art paper and canvas. My current preference is the Epson Ultrasmooth Paper in the 500 gsm weight. This heavy paper provides great detail and does not require dry mounting prior to framing like the lighter weight papers would require. I use the 36x44" sheets that come in a box of 10. I have also used the 460 gsm Epson Somerset Velvet. This paper has more texture on the surface so finer details are not as visible, so I prefer the Epson Ultrasmooth Paper over this paper for prints with fine detail. I am currently also using the Epson Piezo Pro Matte Canvas for canvas prints. Printing on canvas is the best way to produce very large prints that can be stretched around a wooden stretcher bar, no glass or framing is needed if a gallery wrap is used and the canvas is stapled to the back of the stretcher bar. I regularly produce 40x60" prints this way. This canvas has a nice matte surface. I previously used the Epson Premier Art canvas, but I did not like its glossy  surface and was glad to switch to the Piezo Pro brand. I am looking forward to the day when Epson introduces a wider 60" printer. This will allow me to go larger than 40" in the smallest dimension of a print, which would be a good service to offer clients who may need really large prints. Canon has a 60" wide printer - the Prograf IPF 9000. I have heard good reports about the print quality of this printer but I also understand that it cannot handle really thick paper like the Epson 9800 can, so that is a concern for my work. They are also about $15,000, which makes them very pricey. Before making any decisions I will wait until later in the year when Epson may be introducing a larger printer.

I also use the Colorbyte ImagePrint RIP to send prints to the Epson 9800. I love the ease of use and the very high quality this RIP produces. You can download a demo version at their Website if you are in the market for a RIP.  I never use the Epson driver for the 9800, I find it difficult to use compared to the Imageprint RIP.

One last tip for anyone printing on canvas. I found a great product called "Tighten Up" from Dick Blick that can be sprayed on the back of a sagging canvas. Sagging can happen over time in the corners of a large stretched canvas and this spray seems to alleviate the problem.

Here is an image that I have made into a 72" wide canvas. It was taken in Yosemite and is titled "Morning Frost".

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