Scott Martin, a color management and print workflow consultant, joins the show to talk about layout software – a good middle ground for printmakers that don’t want or need to dive into the world of “full blown” RIPs. Scott also helps out a listener that’s looking to streamline their small two-machine printer network.
- Introducing Scott Martin – A new #AskBC expert
- Using layout software instead of RIPs for a more lightweight solution
- Examples of layout programs
- How to know if you really do need a RIP (Nesting, high volume, and more)
- Simplifying a listener’s printing workflow
- Best approach to hook up 5 Macs to 2 printers
- Photographers vs. graphic designers – different needs when it comes to RIPs
- Much more!
Listen in to learn about layout software, RIPs, and printer networks
- To learn about Scott Martin and his services as a workflow consultant, check out his website.
- Listeners featured in this episode include Roger and Matt.
- Layout software mentioned in this episode include QImage and ImageNest.
- RIPs mentioned in this episode include Onyx and Wasatch.
- For more on the benefits of using RIPs, check out our blog post “Do I Need a RIP?” as well as Episode 6 of #AskBC: “RIP Software and Color Management“.
- Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes
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Or, to view a web version of the transcript:
Announcer 1: You are listening to the AskBC podcast – your printmaking questions, answered by the experts!
Justin: Hey guys, this is your host Justin, today we talk about optimizing your print workflow, and we discuss RIP software versus layout programs.
Welcome to Episode 20 of the AskBC podcast! We finally made it to the big 2-0, super excited. It’s been an interesting ride, I hope you guys have been enjoying it.
For this special milestone of ours, we’ve brought on a new special guest for you guys – you’ve probably seen his name, seen some of his comments around if you’re active in any of the photography or printmaking forums like LuminousLandscape or DP Review, we have Scott Martin here – he is a color management consultant, kind of a workflow guru, and also an amazing photographer.
So, hope you guys are excited as I am to get his input on today’s listener’s questions, and definitely be sure to ask your own questions if you have some for Scott, you’ll soon see how knowledgeable this guy is, and he’s one of the coolest industry experts that I’ve ever talked to, I think. So, super pumped for today’s episode.
Hey Scott, thanks so much for taking the time to join us today, if you could please, if our listeners aren’t familiar with you, give us a little bit of context – tell us who you are and what you do.
Scott: Hey, I’m Scott Martin, I am a color management consultant. I have been travelling around the world helping people with color management and print quality issues for the last 21 years. I’m also a fine art photographer that shows work in galleries and contemporary art museums, and I’m kind of a geek when it comes to making the exquisite print.
Justin: That’s perfect, let’s go ahead and jump into the first question.
Announcer 2: Roger asks, “I have an Epson 7900 running OS X Mavericks, and a Canon WP8200 running on an old iMac as available drivers aren’t up to date for this printer. Still trying to sort out the real value of RIP software. All of it is quite costly, given my relatively low level amateur use. What do you recommend as the best workflow for me, using a RIP or otherwise.”
Scott: Well, there’s different ways to do this, but I’m a big fan of solutions that are elegant and embrace simplicity, and, yeah, like you I’m not sure if a RIP is going to be the best way to go. Of course the benefits of a RIP are their nesting tiling and high volume printing capabilities. Especially that high volume printing stuff. If you have a huge volume of work that you’re wanting to print and spreading that print load across a lot of printers, that’s something that a RIP can handle for you really nicely.
But, since he’s saying he’s a lower usage user, I’d say keep it simple, skip the RIP…
Justin: And on the RIP, really quick – if he’s using a RIP, don’t you still have to kind of consider the available drivers for certain printers like the W8200? I’m not sure how likely it would be that that would be compatible with RIPs. That’s still something to be concerned with isn’t it?
Scott: Absolutely, yeah. There is only a number of RIPs that will support that Canon WP line of printers. There’s not too many RIPs that support that, whereas the Epson would have a very broad support – you’d have a lot of RIPs to choose from there.
But, you know, I would double check the printer driver availability. When I go to Canon’s website and plug in OS 10 Mavericks, I do see a download for the W8200, so, although I don’t have that printer to test with myself, it looks like there is a driver to download for that printer. So I would double check that.
You know, Canon’s been really good with supporting all of their old inkjet printers all the way back to the Canon ImageProGRAF 5000 that came out in like early 2006, they still support that printer. So, I think this is a supported printer, I would double check that.
Justin: And I’m not a Windows user myself, but often if you’re dealing with like a Windows 8 machine, the manufacturer – the printer manufacturer – will recommend installing an XP driver that’s kind of cross-compatible. I’m not sure if Mac often works that way or not, maybe something else to consider – maybe an older operating system driver would work for it? I don’t know, but certainly try the Mavericks one first, clearly.
Scott: Yeah, the Macs have great printer sharing built in. But every printer that’s gonna print to that printer needs to have the printer driver installed, so that’s the rub there.
Scott: But yeah, I would, unless Roger has a need to doing nesting, or tiling, or super high volume printing, I’d just stick to using the printer drivers and I would encourage him to focus on using really good custom ICC profiles and then just hone in on what software application is best for him, you know? A lot of us have grown up on Photoshop, but, you know, a lot of us are graduating from Photoshop to other applications like Lightroom, or QImage, or ImageNest, that allow us to do a lot more printing with less effort. So that might be a better area for him to really focus on.
Justin: Maybe a piece of software like that was actually what he was referring to through “RIP,” I know a lot of people call these softwares “RIP” softwares even though they’re technically not. So maybe that’s kind of what he was looking at instead of a software piece like Onyx or something, or an actual RIP like Onyx, so, who knows, I don’t think he mentioned a specific one.
Scott: That’s a good point, you know. Full blown RIPs like Onyx and Wasatch and the rest of those are kind of a science project if you haven’t done it before. It’s really hard to learn the calibration and profiling procedure if you’re not used to doing that, but yeah there are some RIPs like QImage and ImageNest that I kind of prefer to call layout programs.
Justin: Okay, that was going to be my question: What do you call these things?
Scott: Yeah I prefer to call them layout programs because they allow us to do nesting and the like, and they use the printer driver to actually communicate to the printer, so that means you don’t have to do all the custom calibration stuff. You don’t have to determine the ink to let them do a linearization and all that color geek stuff, you just create a custom ICC profile for the printer profile, just like you would if you were printing out of Photoshop or Lightroom or anything else.
So that’s really easy, but yeah QImage and ImageNest, I think of them as layout programs because they allow you to lay out your prints on a big sheet of paper like you’d want them to print. Now technically, ImageNest does rasterize postscript within the application, so that is technically what RIP stands for, right? Raster Image Processor. So, it is a full blown postscript RIP, but I think the distinction here is that some RIPs use the printer driver to communicate with the printer, and regular RGB printer driver profiles, and full blown RIPs use their own color assignments and their own internal language to communicate with the printer, and therefor have a much more complicated calibration and profiling process.
Justin: Awesome, well that clarification helps out quite a bit I think. Anything else to add to that scenario or Roger’s question?
Scott: I don’t think so. You know, keep it simple, don’t’ make it more complicated than you need to, you know? It sounds like he can use printer drivers and focus on, you know, the art of making really beautiful prints. There’s other things he really needs to think about than just the RIP and how to connect them.
Justin: Gotcha, focus on the important things.
Announcer 2: Matt asks, “I have been tasked with updating the connection between our five users with Macs and our three printers: Epson Stylus Pro 7800s, and an Epson Stylus Pro 9600. Currently we have an old Windows server running Oris Hotfolder that controls the two 7800s, and a work station with Best Color that controls the 9600. Originally, this department was much larger and had the need for this setup, but now we don’t have any of these requirements that they previously had. There is not a time constraint on printing, they really don’t need to print multiple documents or color correct. I was hoping to streamline the whole thing down and eliminate the Windows server, Windows workstation, the RIP software, and maybe just put all three onto a print server or something. Though after reading your article, it seems that it would be beneficial to use the RIP software. What is your recommended approach?”
Scott: Well it sounds like he might have one of the very last 9600s running out there.
Scott: And maybe the last installed Best Color.
Justin: [laughs] I’ve never heard of Best Color before, but hey I have a 9600 up here. I don’t think it works, but I have one. It’s a relic at this point.
Scott: Best Color was very exciting about 13 years ago. It was just a really brilliant RIP that came out of the Great Lakes area, and they got bought out by EFI and so Best Color kind of slowly morphed into EFI’s XFRIP, so a lot of that Best Color technology is still in XF today.
Justin: Ah, interesting.
Scott: But it’s evolved quite a bit, yeah. Well that’s a pretty simple and really nice network situation. Just five Macs and three printers. You know, my first thought there is – does he really need the 9600? You know, that is pretty old. Those inks are really reciptible to metamerism, and there aren’t drivers for that printer and modern operating systems, so, you know, it might be a good time to consider retiring the 9600 and just focus on those 7800s which are awesome. And, you know, I’m not sure what his workload is, but two 7800s for five Macs sounds like a lot of printing capacity. And I don’t know if he’s got the ethernet ports in those 7800s or not to put him directly on the network, but if not, you can connect those 7800s each to one Mac with the USB port, and you can turn on printer sharing so that all the other Macs on the network can see that printer and print to that printer.
And so that’s like really brainless super-easy, very effective network printer sharing, since we’re talking about a small network all with Macs, that’s really easy. And that way you can enjoy all the benefits of using the printer driver, you know. And again, focus on creating really good custom ICC profiles and think about what application is gonna suit their needs as far as printing. You know, I kind of would be curious to hear what kind of printing he’ll be doing – is this network of Macs a bunch of graphic designers that are gonna be printing from Adobe InDesign? Or is it a bunch of photographers with Photoshop and Lightroom that are gonna be printing for fine art purposes?
Justin: Would that change any of your recommendations?
Scott: Absolutely. Yeah. If this is a bunch of photographers kind of making one-off prints out of, let’s say Photoshop or Lightroom, I think that the most straightforward situation, you know, make sure you’re using really good profiles, probably with a perceptual intent, and just print directly to the printer with the printer driver.
However, if it’s a bunch of graphic designers with like complex layouts in Adobe Indesign or Illustrator, and perhaps they’re wanting to match a press condition, you know, perhaps they’re trying to make swap-certifiable proofs, or graphical-certifiable proofs. That’s the situation where having a real postscript RIP with some nesting and layout capability can really be beneficial. You know, and one RIP that’s really nice for an all-Mac network like this is ColorBurst Overdrive, with the layout option. That’s a relatively new RIP that’s surprisingly simple and easy to set up, and I see that RIP in a number of my clients’ locations like advertising agencies where they have, you know, five to twenty designers on Macs printing to a couple printers like that. I think that’s a really good solution these days.
Justin: Sounds good, so yeah, that sounds like that kind of solution would eliminate some of the things he’s wanting to eliminate. He mentions, you know, getting rid of that Windows server, and the Windows workstation that’s running that Oris Hotfolder. So that’s awesome. He also mentions, kind of like Roger in his question and the RIP software, and maybe he could go about it that route. But depending on his situation, we need a bit more information I guess, see kind of what he’s going after, what his goals are. So maybe he’ll post down in the comments, so maybe he’ll do that kind of follow-up step – let us know what he’s doing and we can provide him a little bit more information, so that would be cool.
Scott: Yeah, one more thought on that. I can appreciate how an all-Mac network can want to get rid of that one Windows server that can really complicate things, and I’m all for that – just get rid of the Windows server, keep it simple, keep it all Mac – and use the printer driver if you’re doing fine art work, consider a RIP like Overdrive if you’re doing press-proofing for graphic design files. And the other application that’s worth mentioning is ImageNest, and that’s really a “layout” program, a lightweight program that allows you to assemble a bunch of images on a big sheet of paper so that you’re not wasting paper. And that’s a Mac-only application, and it really has the best nesting algorithms in the market today.
Justin: Oh, nice. Yeah, that’s a good suggestion. I think that pretty much covers any possible situation that he could be in, so I’m curious to know what kind of his workflow goals are, but I think we pretty much exhausted all possibilities.
Alright Scott, well that’s actually the last question I have for you for this episode. I appreciate you taking the time to join us today. If somebody wants to find out more information about you – maybe look into what services you offer, you know, color management wise. Or you do some photo tours and stuff like that. Where should they go?
Scott: They can go to my website – on-sight.com.
Justin: Okay, could you just go over the services that you do offer? I know that you do color management stuff, what else can people expect to see from you?
Scott: Well, you know, I mostly focus on one-on-one training with professionals in the field. So, you know, I fly out to people and work with them in their own studio or their own office, and I do one-on-one training with them and custom calibration on their devices. Color management is always a part of it, but workflow is another topic that I like to talk about, and some of the nitty gritty details to getting really good prints – things like print grain and print sharpening are two details that I like to spend a good bit of time with people just to really get down to the nitty gritty of making a gorgeous, big print.
Justin: Nice. Alright man, well like I said, I appreciate you taking the time to be on this show, and hopefully we will catch you again soon!
Scott: Alright, thanks so much!
Justin: Well guys, that’s it for today’s episode, thank you so much for listening. If you’d like to grab the show notes for today’s episode, you can ehad over to ask-bc.com/episode20. Thank you so much for all of your questions and for being a part of the show.
As always, I will send out the free Breathing Color t-shirts to those of you whose questions made it onto today’s show, and if you’d like to get your own question on the show, visit ask-bc.com – and if we choose your question, we will mention your business name right on the episode, and we’ll be sending you a free Breathing Color t-shirt.
Thanks for listening! For more free episodes of #AskBC, check out the full archive!