Monday, February 8, 2016

Making Archival Prints

On one of the the forums I frequent, there has been discussion of archival printers and printing. For those artists who make their own archival prints (or wish to), I am providing the settings that I use. These settings work for me. You should, of course, test any settings and make adjustments to suit your own needs and preferences.

The settings below are for an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer and an Epson Perfection V700 PHOTO scanner, with Epson brand watercolor paper. I downloaded the profiles for the scanner and printer from the Epson web site. You should make appropriate substitutions for the equipment/materials that you use. 


Monitor. Calibrate your monitor. I work on Macintosh computers, and calibration can be accessed by choosing System Prefs > Displays > Color. Choose CALIBRATE and follow the steps. You may wish to make/save more than one calibration if you work both daytime and evening, as light changes and can affect what you see on the monitor.

Scanner. All scanners are not equal. Consider optical resolution and optical density. You might also consider other features, such as being able to scan negatives or slides. Don't overlook the obvious - clean the scanner glass before you start. I use isopropyl alcohol because it doesn't leave streaks. At minimum and when scanning original artwork, I recommend scanning at 100% of the output size (the size at which the image will be printed) and 300 dpi. Output to TIFF or PSD formats. If your scanner has a high speed option, deselect it.

If your work is too large to scan, you can take a high resolution digital photograph or you might consider having a printing bureau make a high resolution scan for you.

Scan of a work in progress, scanned at a high resolution of 1800 dpi on an Epson Perfection V700 PHOTO scanner.


SCAN. A scanner will produce an RGB image. If you plan to use the scanned image for making archival prints, leave the image as RGB (do not convert it to CMYK). 
Image type: 24 bit color
Resolution: 1800 dpi*
Scale: 100%
Unsharp Mask: Low
Speed Priority Scanning: Deselect
Configuration: Color Control

*I scan at a high resolution of 1800 dpi as I sometimes need details of my work to illustration articles for publication. By scanning at this resolution, I can always downsample my work AND I have adequate resolution for showing enlargements of detail.

PHOTOSHOP. Check manufacturers web sites for profiles for scanners, printers and paper products. 
Mode: RGB
Convert to Profile: RGB profile > Epson 3880 WC Paper
Assign Profile: Epson 3880 WC Paper
Color Settings: Working space > RGB > Epson 3880 WC Paper

PRINT. Pigment-based inks are generally used for producing archival prints. A printer that has separate cartridges for each color lets you replace only the color that you've run out of. When choosing a printer, consider the size of the output and whether or not you need to use roll paper.
Color handing: Printer handles color
Set paper size: 13x19
Page Setup: Manual Rear (depends on your printer)
Media Type: Epson WC Paper
Color Mode: Epson Standard (RGB) (or appropriate setting for your printer)
Output resolution: 2880 dpi (the highest setting possible)
DESELECT high speed printing
SELECT finest detail

Before you print, run a test sheet to make sure the printheads are not clogged. Run a cleaning cycle, as necessary, until the heads are printing clean.