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Author Topic: Inkjet printing on uncoated paper - anyone tried it?  (Read 6483 times)
shadowblade
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« on: July 10, 2013, 02:20:00 AM »
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Has anyone here done much printing on uncoated paper? Fine art paper, that is, not throwaway prints on copy paper.

How did they turn out, in terms of sharpness, Dmax and colour saturation, using optimised custom profiles? What printer, ink and paper combination did you use? Did you use sized or unsized papers

Some of the ultra-heavy watercolour papers - Arches Watercolour Hot Press in the 640gsm and 850gsm weights, for example - as well as ultra-heavy Japanese washi papers, look like they'd make beautiful and long-lasting substrates. Indian khadi and Nepalese/Bhutanese handmade papers (which are also acid-free, lignin-free, sized and buffered), too, would add a nice touch to photos taken in those areas. Of course, none of these papers have inkjet coatings, and the very durability of receptive coatings (not to mention Inkaid) is questionable anyway.

The literature seems to suggest that a high (15%) concentration of calcium chloride in the external sizing tub makes for a higher DMax and reduced dot-gain with inkjet pigment inks, as do styrene-acrylic emulsion sizers, while external sizing with starch has a deleterious effect on both DMax and dot gain. The concentration or type of internal sizing does not appear to have any effect. Does anyone have experience with the Arches Watercolour papers, or other similar papers which are sized with gelatin? I couldn't find much information about those.

A hydrophobic, oleophilic surface would also serve to reduce ink absorption while minimising dot gain. Also, heating the ink and paper would increase the possible ink load while speeding up the drying time (and thus reducing dot gain) - this is obviously possible with solvent printers, or solvent printers converted to use aqueous inks, but no HP, Canon or Epson printer has a paper or ink pre-warmer. Maybe an 'oven chamber' for the printer, to keep it at 50 degrees and minimal relative humidity, could work?

Is it possible, or advisable, to size, or re-size, papers at home prior to printing, to optimise the paper for inkjet printing as much as is possible, without adding an inkjet coating? Or would it be better to have papers made and sized to chemical specification by a small, niche paper mill willing to work with individual, low-volume clients, in the knowledge that I might have to go through the whole process again should they go out of business?

Any other intelligent thoughts or ideas that I'm missing here?
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Pete Berry
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 08:12:38 AM »
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Seems like all you would need to do is to print on the uncoated back of some of these art papers, as I'm sure we've all done - a mess, of course with the normal ink load, which would not be encouraging to me for further experimentation!

Pete
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hugowolf
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 09:01:14 AM »
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Zone8, on the DPReview printers forum, has printed on uncoated fine art papers for many years. I think mostly black and white, but maybe also color. You could try asking on that forum.
http://www.dpreview.com/members/2328968436

I have tried several uncoated papers. Some seem to work well, others not. Arches Aquarelle is one that works, but the few Bristols I have tried do not. I would imagine that Rives BFK (called BFK Rives when sold as a coated inkjet paper) would do well too - it is a traditional fine art printing paper (monotype, lino print, woodcut, mezzotype, engraving, etching, etc.) It is soft sized. Arches Aquarelle is fully sized.

Papers designed for pastel, graphite, charcoal, crayon, etc, would proibably not do well. Papers designed for pastel, chalk, and charcoal, often have a destinctive regular honeycomb texture.

Brian A
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Rob Reiter
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2013, 11:47:25 AM »
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I've done a lot of printing on uncoated papers, particularly Japanese and other Asian art papers. To some degree, it will depend on the ink, but with my Canon iPF 8400 I've had good success. In general, you'll find color saturation is lower and max blacks aren't as dense, but picking the right images will produce quite attractive prints when you factor in the papers themselves. I like the look of monochromatic images, either straight grayscale or various sepia or warm tone looks best. Sometimes I'm surprised at how well full color can look.

Hiromi Paper in Santa Monica is a good source of Japanese papers, some even coated for inkjet printing.

I'ved had good luck with Arches Cold Press as well as some of my old "Iris" sized sheets of Somerset Velvet from the olden days (1990s.)

Experiment with ink loading to balance out dot gain and max density. Try some of the thin, translucent kozo (mulberry fiber) papers, especially with black and white images.

And to truly appreciate the look of some of these papers with their nice textures and mould-made edge deckling, float them in the frame with no over matting.
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TylerB
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2013, 04:47:37 PM »
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I've also done a lot of printing on uncoated fine art papers, both Epson OEM ink and Cone B&W inks, and still do. Arches, Somerset, Japanese papers, etc etc. I use a RIP which let's me address all the issues one imagines on unconventional substrates, but I can tell you it works and beautiful prints are possible. You give up gamut and dmax for other subtle qualities some artists might value.
Without a RIP, your path would be to make several tests on these papers trying all the media setting options, find one that doesn't mottle or bleed, but is hopefully not too weak, then of course a custom profile has to be made for that setting and that paper.
Here is an example of a project done on Arches-
http://tylerboley.com/liz/elizabeth-gallery/

Tyler
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shadowblade
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2013, 06:19:13 PM »
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Seems like all you would need to do is to print on the uncoated back of some of these art papers, as I'm sure we've all done - a mess, of course with the normal ink load, which would not be encouraging to me for further experimentation!

Pete

I don't own a printer myself - I just hire their services, and try all sorts of unusual things with them!
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shadowblade
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 06:45:28 PM »
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Seems like all you would need to do is to print on the uncoated back of some of these art papers, as I'm sure we've all done - a mess, of course with the normal ink load, which would not be encouraging to me for further experimentation!

Pete

This may not be the best option - as far as I know, a lot of inkjet papers are unsized, relying on the inkjet receptive coating to control absorption, which is quite different from actual papers used in watercolours or traditional printing.
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shadowblade
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 07:46:05 PM »
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I've done a lot of printing on uncoated papers, particularly Japanese and other Asian art papers. To some degree, it will depend on the ink, but with my Canon iPF 8400 I've had good success. In general, you'll find color saturation is lower and max blacks aren't as dense, but picking the right images will produce quite attractive prints when you factor in the papers themselves. I like the look of monochromatic images, either straight grayscale or various sepia or warm tone looks best. Sometimes I'm surprised at how well full color can look.

I thought the main reason that colour saturation was lower was because of ink bleed/dot gain causing reduced contrast (if you use the regular amount of ink) or because of lower pigment load (if you use less ink to combat dot gain).

If you could increase the (surface) ink load while minimising dot gain (e.g. by heating the paper/ink, or the room in which the printer is located, as well as reducing the relative humidity, such as by using a reverse-cycle air conditioner in combination with some strong heaters or a printer with an inbuilt heater, by changing the solvent in which the pigments are suspended to a faster-evaporating one, by increasing the pigment load per unit of ink, or by using an inkjet-friendly formulation for the external sizing of the paper) would you also increase the Dmax and saturation? I'd also imagine that printing on a smoother surface, e.g. Hot Press, would give you better DMax than rougher surfaces.

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Hiromi Paper in Santa Monica is a good source of Japanese papers, some even coated for inkjet printing.

I know. I've seen some of their papers, and they'd make fantastic substrates. Also, the (uncoated) Japanese papers have an even longer record of durability for fine art and calligraphy than European watercolour papers (paper having existed in the Far East and India for centuries longer than in the West).

They also make custom papers - if all goes well, I wouldn't mind having moulds made for extra-thick (I'm talking 3-4mm thick here), 100% Kozo, or 50% Kozo-50% cotton papers in a number of sizes that I commonly print, fully sized and buffered, and with a strong calcium chloride bath as part of the tub sizing process.

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I'ved had good luck with Arches Cold Press as well as some of my old "Iris" sized sheets of Somerset Velvet from the olden days (1990s.)

How did they go in the DMax and colour saturation department, compared to standard matte inkjet paper?

Quote
Experiment with ink loading to balance out dot gain and max density. Try some of the thin, translucent kozo (mulberry fiber) papers, especially with black and white images.

Do they hold up well? They look rather fragile to me, and seem like they'd be very prone to wrinkling while drying from high ink loads, or due to humidity. But appearances can be deceptive.

Quote
And to truly appreciate the look of some of these papers with their nice textures and mould-made edge deckling, float them in the frame with no over matting.

How do you float them archivally?
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Rob Reiter
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2013, 03:39:39 PM »
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"reverse-cycle-air conditioner..." Not for me. I print on paper for what it offers, rather than trying to change it into something else. You might get slightly better Dmax on a hot press paper, but the above still applies.

I'd say the uncoated Somerset Velvet was similar to the heavier Japanese papers in its saturation and Dmax.

The thinner kozo papers are particularly prone to cockling if the ink load is too great. Won't work for everything, but when they do...!

Awagami is now importing some nice coated papers through Freestyle Photographic in L.A. One of my favorites is the Bizan, a hand-made paper with mould made deckles on all four sides. Gorgeous...at $50 a sheet for A2 (roughly 17x23.)  Sad

I thought the main reason that colour saturation was lower was because of ink bleed/dot gain causing reduced contrast (if you use the regular amount of ink) or because of lower pigment load (if you use less ink to combat dot gain).

If you could increase the (surface) ink load while minimising dot gain (e.g. by heating the paper/ink, or the room in which the printer is located, as well as reducing the relative humidity, such as by using a reverse-cycle air conditioner in combination with some strong heaters or a printer with an inbuilt heater, by changing the solvent in which the pigments are suspended to a faster-evaporating one, by increasing the pigment load per unit of ink, or by using an inkjet-friendly formulation for the external sizing of the paper) would you also increase the Dmax and saturation? I'd also imagine that printing on a smoother surface, e.g. Hot Press, would give you better DMax than rougher surfaces.

I know. I've seen some of their papers, and they'd make fantastic substrates. Also, the (uncoated) Japanese papers have an even longer record of durability for fine art and calligraphy than European watercolour papers (paper having existed in the Far East and India for centuries longer than in the West).

They also make custom papers - if all goes well, I wouldn't mind having moulds made for extra-thick (I'm talking 3-4mm thick here), 100% Kozo, or 50% Kozo-50% cotton papers in a number of sizes that I commonly print, fully sized and buffered, and with a strong calcium chloride bath as part of the tub sizing process.

How did they go in the DMax and colour saturation department, compared to standard matte inkjet paper?

Do they hold up well? They look rather fragile to me, and seem like they'd be very prone to wrinkling while drying from high ink loads, or due to humidity. But appearances can be deceptive.

How do you float them archivally?
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Rob Reiter
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2013, 03:41:50 PM »
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Use an archival mounting tape on the back of the print. There are standard framer's techniques for this. I even have a print on translucent kozo paper done this way using a transparent framers tape and the tape is not visible (framing done by a pro, not me!)


How do you float them archivally?
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shadowblade
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2013, 05:35:59 PM »
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"reverse-cycle-air conditioner..." Not for me. I print on paper for what it offers, rather than trying to change it into something else. You might get slightly better Dmax on a hot press paper, but the above still applies.

One could argue that the whole concept of inkjet coatings was developed in order to make inkjet prints look like chromagenic prints without having to modify the print process!

Have you, or anyone else you know, done any actual DMax measurements or gamut plotting for uncoated papers?

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I'd say the uncoated Somerset Velvet was similar to the heavier Japanese papers in its saturation and Dmax.

Thanks - very useful to know.

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The thinner kozo papers are particularly prone to cockling if the ink load is too great. Won't work for everything, but when they do...!

I'd have imagined they'd be good for black-and-white printing, a bit like traditional calligraphy or ink painting/drawing. Can you get rid of the cockling by sizing the paper, or by pressing it afterwards?

Quote
Awagami is now importing some nice coated papers through Freestyle Photographic in L.A. One of my favorites is the Bizan, a hand-made paper with mould made deckles on all four sides. Gorgeous...at $50 a sheet for A2 (roughly 17x23.)  Sad

I've seen the Bizan too - it looks and feels fantastic.

One of the attractions of printing on uncoated paper, though, quite apart from the range of papers available, is the proven longevity of the medium - there's no tennis-court-sized surface area to increase oxidation of pigment particles, and there's no coating which can crack or peel if the binder becomes brittle or otherwise fails. If one could develop an inkjet printing or paper sizing (or combined) process whereby you could print on uncoated paper, while getting a similar Dmax and saturation to current processes on coated paper, you'd be opening up a whole world of printing possibilities, both in artistic and archival terms.

Any idea if it's possible to re-size a paper that's already been externally sized, to change the sizing chemistry to a more inkjet-friendly one? Or would it have to be a custom order? Any suggestions for sizing your own paper at home, while minimising curling and wrinkling? I'd imagine it would be easier with super-heavy papers than with thinner ones.
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Rob Reiter
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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2013, 11:59:09 AM »
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There is also this company, inkAID, which sells coatings you can apply. I've only experimented a little with them and can't say anything conclusively at this time.

I haven't tried any forced flattening of cockled paper. But when I've coated both sides of a sheet of thicker paper, it does help reduce curl that can cause printer head strikes.
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shadowblade
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2013, 06:28:42 PM »
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There is also this company, inkAID, which sells coatings you can apply. I've only experimented a little with them and can't say anything conclusively at this time.

I haven't tried any forced flattening of cockled paper. But when I've coated both sides of a sheet of thicker paper, it does help reduce curl that can cause printer head strikes.

I've seen and used Inkaid before - basically, it lets you turn anything that will fit into the printer, including leather, denim and wooden panels, into an inkjet surface. But I certainly can't vouch for its archival value - if I just wanted a paper with an inkjet coating, there are plenty of those out there already!
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shadowblade
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2013, 05:29:55 AM »
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I've also done a lot of printing on uncoated fine art papers, both Epson OEM ink and Cone B&W inks, and still do. Arches, Somerset, Japanese papers, etc etc. I use a RIP which let's me address all the issues one imagines on unconventional substrates, but I can tell you it works and beautiful prints are possible. You give up gamut and dmax for other subtle qualities some artists might value.
Without a RIP, your path would be to make several tests on these papers trying all the media setting options, find one that doesn't mottle or bleed, but is hopefully not too weak, then of course a custom profile has to be made for that setting and that paper.
Here is an example of a project done on Arches-
http://tylerboley.com/liz/elizabeth-gallery/

Tyler

Zone8, on the DPReview printers forum, has printed on uncoated fine art papers for many years. I think mostly black and white, but maybe also color. You could try asking on that forum.
http://www.dpreview.com/members/2328968436

I have tried several uncoated papers. Some seem to work well, others not. Arches Aquarelle is one that works, but the few Bristols I have tried do not. I would imagine that Rives BFK (called BFK Rives when sold as a coated inkjet paper) would do well too - it is a traditional fine art printing paper (monotype, lino print, woodcut, mezzotype, engraving, etching, etc.) It is soft sized. Arches Aquarelle is fully sized.

Papers designed for pastel, graphite, charcoal, crayon, etc, would proibably not do well. Papers designed for pastel, chalk, and charcoal, often have a destinctive regular honeycomb texture.

Brian A


I've done a lot of printing on uncoated papers, particularly Japanese and other Asian art papers. To some degree, it will depend on the ink, but with my Canon iPF 8400 I've had good success. In general, you'll find color saturation is lower and max blacks aren't as dense, but picking the right images will produce quite attractive prints when you factor in the papers themselves. I like the look of monochromatic images, either straight grayscale or various sepia or warm tone looks best. Sometimes I'm surprised at how well full color can look.

Hiromi Paper in Santa Monica is a good source of Japanese papers, some even coated for inkjet printing.

I'ved had good luck with Arches Cold Press as well as some of my old "Iris" sized sheets of Somerset Velvet from the olden days (1990s.)

Experiment with ink loading to balance out dot gain and max density. Try some of the thin, translucent kozo (mulberry fiber) papers, especially with black and white images.

And to truly appreciate the look of some of these papers with their nice textures and mould-made edge deckling, float them in the frame with no over matting.

By the way, when using custom RIPs for uncoated paper (always better than just a custom ICC profile), what RIP software did you use? I'm assuming you had to do a lot of adjustments to compensate for increased dot gain and different absorbency characteristics of uncoated paper. It seems that, with a good RIP, Arches Watercolour Hot Press can outdo the Dmax and gamut of coated matte papers - how did you come up with the RIP, to saturate the paper with sufficient ink for good saturation and Dmax (sized paper makes this easier, though) without the paper warping and wrinkling due to the ink load? Also, how did you rebalance all the inks for accurate colour reproduction, particularly on printers capable of multiple dot volumes (not all RIP software can adjust this)? I'm guessing you had to do this whether printing using OEM inks with a custom RIP, or using various third-party inks for a custom inkset.

DPReview forum is a snakepit of ignorance and politics I'd hesitate to venture into, for almost anything...
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TylerB
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2013, 12:37:14 PM »
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By the way, when using custom RIPs for uncoated paper (always better than just a custom ICC profile), what RIP software did you use? I'm assuming you had to do a lot of adjustments to compensate for increased dot gain and different absorbency characteristics of uncoated paper. It seems that, with a good RIP, Arches Watercolour Hot Press can outdo the Dmax and gamut of coated matte papers - how did you come up with the RIP, to saturate the paper with sufficient ink for good saturation and Dmax (sized paper makes this easier, though) without the paper warping and wrinkling due to the ink load? Also, how did you rebalance all the inks for accurate colour reproduction, particularly on printers capable of multiple dot volumes (not all RIP software can adjust this)? I'm guessing you had to do this whether printing using OEM inks with a custom RIP, or using various third-party inks for a custom inkset.

DPReview forum is a snakepit of ignorance and politics I'd hesitate to venture into, for almost anything...

I guess you're asking me amongst others...
I use Ergosoft PosterPrint. Dot gain and absorbancy are dealt with the normal ways.. with light ink limiting, individual channel linearization and limiting. Total ink limiting, K generation, O & G generation, these things also effect those issues and are done in the profiling after the other issues are controlled. Rebalance? Again, that would be taken care of in profiling, over a well linearized and limited paper setup. Dot settings are all totally controllable and also play a role to help minimize mottle and bleed on those kids of papers. No, densities and gamut on Arches, no matter how carefully set up, will not exceed the good coated fine art papers, nor will resolution. For monochrome with Cone inks, all the above applies, but since it's a 2d space, linearization to a chosen output standard is the end of the process, not profiling. But again, all the dot stuff and light ink and max density limiting has to be carefully done to maximize on specialty papers. Getting into more detail about all of this is more like a PosterPrint tutorial and very very few will be interested...
Tyler
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shadowblade
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« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2013, 07:53:48 PM »
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Thanks.

I guess you're asking me amongst others...
I use Ergosoft PosterPrint.

Does this differ much from StudioPrint (also by Ergosoft)? How many individual colours (not including light/diluted versions) does it support? Does it support variable drop size?

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Dot gain and absorbancy are dealt with the normal ways.. with light ink limiting, individual channel linearization and limiting.

Apart from pure carbon inks (which are completely stable regardless of dilution), I'd prefer to avoid light ink wherever possible, due to the reduced lightfastness of diluted inks. Better to use smaller dots of full-concentration inks, rather than diluted inks. If only the standard Epson heads went down to 1.5 picolitres, using a combination of 3pL and 1.5pL dots for the highest print quality... How much would removing all the light inks cost me, gamut-wise? Could this be made up for by introducing more dilutions of black ink (up to 7, as with Cone inks) or by using more inks of nonstandard colours? Just as importantly, would your RIP program be able to handle an inkset which included red, green, orange, brown and other ink colours, in addition to the standard CMYK?



Quote
Total ink limiting, K generation, O & G generation, these things also effect those issues and are done in the profiling after the other issues are controlled.

Shouldn't K generation, as well as orange/green and other colours, be done in the RIP, controlling individual inks, rather than in the ICC printer profile?

Ideally, for Lab values equalling those produced by the pure carbon pigments on paper, you'd want to set it so that the only inks used to generate those colours were the carbon pigments, with no coloured inks at all. You couldn't do this in the ICC profile. Same with black-and-white RIPs - you'd set it so that only the pure carbon inks were used, or with small amounts of coloured inks for toning.

Linearising a specific ink colour is easy enough - it's just a matter of measuring density and Lab values along a gradient of that particular ink colour. The hard part is getting all the various coloured inks to work together - particularly if there are nonstandard inks like red, green or brown - to produce whatever RGB values are forwarded to the RIP via the printer profile. How good is Posterprint for this sort of thing?

Quote
Rebalance? Again, that would be taken care of in profiling, over a well linearized and limited paper setup. Dot settings are all totally controllable and also play a role to help minimize mottle and bleed on those kids of papers.

In other words, using the RIP , and an ICC profile to convert the file's Adobe RGB colour space into the equivalent RGB values for the printer's colour space, which the RIP can then use to determine the exact mixture of inks needed to replicate that particular colour?

Quote
No, densities and gamut on Arches, no matter how carefully set up, will not exceed the good coated fine art papers, nor will resolution.

I once saw a recorded Dmax of 1.7 on Arches Hot Press. This was with preheated inks and paper on a solvent printer, using a single-pass technique (multiple passes could achieve a deeper Dmax, but would add further problems with registration and profiling).

I wonder if replacing the solution in which the pigment particles are suspended with an alcohol-based, rather than water-based solution (still aqueous, since ethanol is water soluble) would improve things, since alcohol's faster evaporation would reduce dot gain and increase possible ink load. Keeping the pigment from settling would be a challenge, though.

Quote
Getting into more detail about all of this is more like a PosterPrint tutorial and very very few will be interested...
Tyler

I guess that's why it's an individual thread on a very specialised subforum on a website that is itself specialised!
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hugowolf
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2013, 08:10:52 PM »
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I once saw a recorded Dmax of 1.7 on Arches Hot Press.

I've seen 1.79 on Epson Hot Press Natural with an Epson 3800.

Brian A
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shadowblade
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« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2013, 08:15:05 PM »
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I've seen 1.79 on Epson Hot Press Natural with an Epson 3800.

Brian A

Not at all surprised.

I'm not saying that Arches watercolour beats *every* coated matte paper out there, when printed in the right way.

I'm merely saying that it can beat *some* coated papers (some max out at 1.45-1.5) and, Dmax- and saturation-wise, doesn't necessarily have to be inferior to coated papers.

Obviously, none of these can hold a candle to lustre and gloss papers, but, as with coated matte papers, you can also wax or spray uncoated papers to increase their Dmax and saturation.
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2013, 02:59:23 AM »
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Inventing a testing method of the coating bond that relates to the actual use of prints in our niche of industry may be a better idea than abandon the coated papers in total. It should be possible to do that in DIY style I think. 1000x bending or stretching done on a paper strip printed with a chequerboard black pattern and two scans; one before, one after. Humidity set at 55% in testing. It introduces another factor in the test with only one type of ink applied but could be done quite easily. Make the test as critical as required to divide the worst coated papers from the rest. Or whatever better idea that comes up.

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Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
July 2013, 500+ inkjet media white spectral plots.
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shadowblade
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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2013, 04:37:10 AM »
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Inventing a testing method of the coating bond that relates to the actual use of prints in our niche of industry may be a better idea than abandon the coated papers in total. It should be possible to do that in DIY style I think. 1000x bending or stretching done on a paper strip printed with a chequerboard black pattern and two scans; one before, one after. Humidity set at 55% in testing. It introduces another factor in the test with only one type of ink applied but could be done quite easily. Make the test as critical as required to divide the worst coated papers from the rest. Or whatever better idea that comes up.

--
Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
July 2013, 500+ inkjet media white spectral plots.

You'd also need to add prolonged low humidity, high temperatures, temperature swings and changes in humidity to those tests, as well as exposure to atmospheric pollutants and their byproducts (e.g. acid resistance).

It's an interesting challenge trying to come up with an inkset, RIP and paper combination that gives good photographic results, while being completely idiot-proof for archival durability...
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