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Making Great Prints in Photoshop

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Learn how to make the best prints with your printer and how to edit profiles with profile editors and/or Photoshop Adjustment Layers.
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Making Epson Prints When Using Custom Profiles

When you print an image using a custom profile, you first want to use Image/Mode/Convert to Profile to convert your master image from your Lab or RGB Color Space into the space for your printer created by this profile (see Figure 1). Then in your print dialog, you want to turn all color management options off in the same way you do when printing the color test swatches to make your profile.

Figure 1Figure 1 When printing an image using a custom profile, I first use Image/Mode/Convert to Profile from Photoshop to convert my standard master image from its default color space, Adobe RGB in this case, into the space defined by the custom profile. I then print the image using the same print dialog settings that were used to print the sample test swatches. Depending on the image I'm working with, I may set the Intent to either Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric and I may occasionally turn on Black Point Compensation. With the Preview checkbox on as shown in this image, you should get an accurate on-screen preview to help you in making those decisions. My most common choice for Epson printers and profiles made with Monaco products is Perceptual with Black Point Compensation off. I often use the PS7ArtistryCalibrationImage, which is found in the Ch15.Color Pref and Calibration folder on the Photoshop Artistry 7: Mastering the Digital Print CD, as a test for the profiles I make. After making a profile, you can print this image and use it to compare profiles made on other papers or with other printers and inks. It is a good image to evaluate a profile because it contains neutral swatches as well as images that have various properties that can be difficult to profile. If you are doing Image/Mode/Convert to Profile with my calibration image, your Source space will be ColorMatch and your Destination space will be the profile you want to test. Don't convert this image to Adobe RGB or any other space before converting it to your printer space to test the profile or this will invalidate the test.

Figures 2, 3, and 4 show three important variations of using the Photoshop 7 Print with Preview dialog, which is now the default that you get with Command-P.

The variation in Figure 2 shows you the settings to use when you are printing the Monaco EZ Color RGB Print Patches file that you have to print to make a profile. In this case the Source Space should be set to Untagged RGB and the Print Space to Same as Source.

Figure 2Figure 2 The correct Photoshop 7 Print With Preview dialog, use Command-P, when printing the Monaco EZ Color RGB Print Patches file. Source Space should be Untagged RGB and Print Space should be Same as Source.

The Figure 3 variation shows you the settings to use when you have previously used Image/Mode/Convert to Profile to convert your image to the colorspace of a custom printer profile for a specific printer, paper and/or ink combination. In this case Source Space should be the name of your custom printer profile and Print Space should be set to Same as Source.

Figure 3Figure 3 The correct Photoshop 7 Print with Preview dialog when printing a file that you have converted using Image/Mode/Convert to Profile from your default color space (like Adobe RGB or Lab) to a custom profile for your printer. In this case the Source Space will be the name of that custom profile and the Print Space will be Same as Source. The other print dialogs would look the same as the shown in Figures 5, 6, and 7.

The Figure 4 variation shows you the correct settings if you want Photoshop and its print dialog to convert your image on-the-fly from your master color space into the space of a custom printer profile. If you are using these settings, you don't use Image/Mode/Convert to Profile first but this conversion is done while you are making the print. In this case Source Space should be set to your master RGB, Adobe RGB for example, or Lab working space. Print Space should be set to the Custom Profile for your particular printer, ink and paper combination.

Figure 4Figure 4 The correct Photoshop 7 Print with Preview dialog when printing a file that you want Photoshop to convert on-the-fly while printing from your default color space to a custom profile for your printer. In this case the Source Space will be the name of your default color space (like Adobe RGB or Lab) and the Print Space will be the name of the custom profile for your printer. Photoshop will convert the image on-the-fly, just for this print, to your custom printer profile. The other print dialogs would look the same as those shown in Figures 5, 6, and 7.

If you use the dialog shown in Figure 3, then you have already converted the image into the printer space, using Image/Mode/Convert to Profile, before entering the print dialog. If you have the same image that you print with the same printer, inks and paper over and over again, this setting may be more efficient since you could just save this converted image. The Figure 4 option requires the Print dialog to do this conversion every time a print is made which may take more time. If you use the same conversion options, Figures 3 and 4 should give you the same results. The Figure 3 option, by first using Image/Mode/Convert to Profile, allows you to make a few more conversion options, like changing the Conversion Engine and turning Dither on or off, and it also allows you to see on-screen previews of these different options while in the Convert to Profile dialog. That is another advantage to the Figure 3 approach. You should develop a workflow and try to make your prints the same way each time. That way you are less likely to make mistakes due to inconsistencies in the way you make prints. I tend to use the Figure 3 approach, which uses Image/Mode/Convert to profile first and gives me a little more control with the on screen previews. The Figure 4 approach is probably a bit faster, especially if you are only making one print of each image.

Figures 5, 6, and 7 show the rest of the printer dialog settings, which should be essentially the same no matter which of the Figure 2, 3, and 4 variations we are working with. Read through each of these to see how to set each of them correctly.

Figure 5Figure 5 When you click on Page Setup from the Photoshop 7 Print With Preview dialog seen in Figures 2, 3, and 4, you get this. Use Standard only, with Centered off so it will fit, when printing the Monaco RGB Print Patches. Centered looks better but gives you less print area with other images. Don't use Maximum with photographs as one edge may be of lower quality. Maximum works fine for me with text.

Figure 6Figure 6 Clicking on Options in the Page Setup dialog gives you this dialog where you want to turn on Custom, then Click the Advanced button. Use these same settings when printing the Monaco patches and also when printing your images printed with the Monaco profile you make or with some other profile, like one from ProfileCity.com.

Figure 7Figure 7 Clicking on the Advanced button brings up this dialog. Here you want to choose your Media Type. Here is the recommended setting for Epson ColorLife Paper: choose No Color Adjustment, set your Print Quality (the dpi of the printer), and turn off High Speed if you want the best print quality. I'd suggest you also choose Save Settings, which allows you to save these settings so next time you can choose them from the menu above Advanced in the dialog shown just on top of this one.

These screen grabs were made using Photoshop 7 and the Epson 1280 printer. Similar dialogs exist in Photoshop 6 with the same printer and I believe you will be able to identify the same places within the Photoshop 6 dialogs. On OS X and with Windows systems, the dialogs will look somewhat different but you'll find the same functionality and you should have the same workflow options. If you are using an Epson 2200, 7600, 9600 or 10,000 or some other Epson printer, you'll be able to use a similar workflow and you'll also find similar dialogs, but you'll notice that an option here or there will be different.

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