For prints that will be placed in a book or limited-edition portfolio, I recommend testing a few papers, since the Arches papers, like many others, can be damaged when handled a lot.
Semi-gloss papers that work well with Epson’s UltraChrome and UltraChrome K3 inks include Epson’s Premium Semimatte and Oriental Photo USA’s RC Professional Luster paper (www.orientalphotousa.com).
Premier Imaging Products’ Premier Art Luster Rag (www.premierimagingproducts.com), Hahnemühle’s Photo Rag Satin (www.hahnemuhle.com), and Crane’s Silver Rag (www.crane.com) all offer a new look compared with the traditional matte, semi-gloss, or gloss surfaces that have been available for years. Luster Rag and Photo Rag Satin are similar in appearance (like fiber-based heavy darkroom papers), but Luster Rag has a heavier base and is smoother than Photo Rag Satin, which has a visible paper texture. Crane’s Silver Rag has a more enhanced texture and is glossier than the other two.
When trying new paper, buy small sheets first. That will reduce costs considerably. Many companies offer samples either for free or for a minimal charge.
The Ink Perspective
By Marc Leftoff
Large-format fine art printing used to be all dye-based inks. With dye-based, you have to deal with fading and susceptibility to UV light. As pigment inks and the technology have progressed, they’ve been able to make the pigment ink sets match the same gamut of printable colors as the dye inks. From there, it opened up a whole new market of being able to print and use the archivability of pigment inks.
On the fine-art side, everything should always be printed with pigment-based inks. Epson’s got them, and Lyson inks (www.lyson.com) are very similar to Epson’s. They’re all rated about 80 to 120 years indoors. Dye-based inks start fading in about 10 years.
One of the big things to look for in inks is the deepest, most dense black you can find. Without that deep black, you won’t be able to get rich colors, like if you’re trying to print a really rich blue—you need black to do that.
There are a few big players in the ink market, and they’ve got the big bucks to put into R&D to make sure their inks are actually what they say they are. We like Lyson because their color gamut is broad.
Many people think they can just print a piece, cut it off the printer, and ship it to a client. To get the most from your inks, a piece must be coated afterward. A liquid-based coating or varnish made specifically for giclee prints adds density to the piece, just like when an artist varnishes a painting; punches out the colors; gives it abrasion resistance; and offers increased UV inhibitors.
The RIP Software Perspective
By Marcia Dolgin
I specialize in photographing babies and their families. My goal is to use all 44 inches for the ultimate portrait. I use a RIP to get the results I need.
A RIP is basically an interpreter: It takes information from a language the monitor is using and interprets it into a language the printer can understand, so you can get as close as possible to your desired output .
When looking for the right RIP ask yourself: Are you OK with the idea you may not be able to easily make your own profiles? Are you comfortable using it? Are you printing enough to justify the RIP you’re thinking of, or printing something that has value to justify it? Are you purchasing it for the time being, or is it something that will grow with you?
Test every single RIP. Usually you can send a file and have the manufacturer print it for you. Some companies, including ErgoSoft (www.ergosoft.com), offer a one-month temporary license so you can try it out yourself.
I have ErgoSoft PosterPrint and StudioPrint v. 12. You can use a lower resolution and still have the appearance of an amazing dotless experience. A really good RIP can actually make a printer perform outside its original gamut.