Cold pressed? Hot pressed? Loss of shadow detail?
On this episode of #AskBC, Justin talks about what to expect out of printing on matte papers in terms of mid tone and shadow detail. He also runs down available matte media from Breathing Color including hot and cold pressed options.
Later in the show, Justin covers listener questions on choosing a RIP for use on a wide-format Epson and Windows operating system, and producing canvas prints on direct to garment printers.
- Is reduced midtone and shadow detail inherent to matte media?
- Defining hot pressed and cold pressed papers
- A run down on what matte papers Breathing Color offers and the differences between them
- RIPs that work well with Windows
- A reminder of reasons to use a RIP (getting automatically better-looking prints isn’t one of them!)
- Direct to garment (DTG) printer technology
- Printing to canvas on DTG – possible, but not easy
- Much more!
Listen in to learn about matte media and canvas prints on DTG printers
- Listeners featured in this episode include Mike from mfreyimages.smugmug.com, Rick from Gifts from the Heart, John Clide, and John from Stitch in Time.
- We talk about RIPs a lot! For more, check out the article “Do I Need a RIP?” and don’t miss the comment section for more discussion.
- RIPs also come up on a couple of #AskBC episodes, including “RIP Software and Color Management,” and “Layout Software vs. RIPs.”
- RIPs mentioned in this episode include QImage, ColorBurst, ImagePrint, Onyx, and Wasatch.
- Cold-pressed matte papers from BC: Pura Velvet, Elegance Velvet, Pura Bagasse Textured, 600MT, and 28MT.
- Hot-pressed matte papers from BC: Pura Smooth, Optica One, and Pura Bagasse Smooth.
- Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes.
Prefer to read over listen? Want to save this conversation for reference later? We transcribe all of our shows for these reasons! Download this episode’s transcription below:
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 matte inkjet paper options, RIP software for Epson printers, and direct-to-garment (or DTG printers) printing on inkjet canvas and papers.
Welcome to Episode 30 of the #AskBC podcast! Got some interesting, fresh topics today, so let’s go ahead and jump right into the first question.
Announcer 2: Mike with mfreyimages.smugmug.com asks, “I have used Moab Photo Matte 235 paper for some time. There have been some problems with midtones and shadows being soft, with some loss of detail. I have also used Epson matte presentation paper, which I did not like either. Which matte paper would Breathing Color recommend as a replacement for these two papers to get better midtone and shadow detail?”
Justin: Mike, that’s a great question. My first thought on this is, I’m wondering what type of paper you’re used to printing on, and I’m gonna assume it’s a satin or a glossy paper, you know, matte papers just inherently have less shadow detail. You’re always going to get that softer midtones and less shadow detail on a matte paper.
So if you’re used to printing on satin papers, you know, or like a baryta or satin photo paper, etcetera, it just kind of comes with the territory, unfortunately.
So i wonder that, that’s kind of my first thought on this. Secondly, I wonder what printer model you’re using. Second thought on this is kind of, maybe you’re using a photo black ink – you know, I’m not too sure how severe this loss of shadow detail and soft midtones are for you, but if you use a photo black ink on a matte paper, this loss of shadow detail and the other problem with the midtones is kind of exasperated.
So that’s my second thought – if you’re using photo black, do anything you can to use matte black, because your results will be greatly improved when you’re printing on matte media with matte black.
Third thought on this is, I wonder if you’re using custom ICC paper profiles. Are you making your own profiles with something like a ColorMunky from X-Rite or an IO1 Pro from X-Rite? Or are you using, you know, I’ve seen people using the standard Epson profiles when they’re printing on Moab paper. Something like that, just using a profile that’s not designed for the paper at all. So that would be my third question for you.
Obviously, you know, a custom profile for your printer in its environment, you know, specific for this paper, would be ideal. And it might improve some of these issues you’re seeing. If you aren’t already using that, get one made if you can. Make one yourself. Let’s see…obviously, the fourth question is – are you using all the correct settings otherwise?
Media type can have a pretty big bearing. If you’re using a media type setting that’s using too much ink on this paper, you can start running into these problems that you’re talking about, so double check with the paper manufacturers, make sure you’re setting the right settings.
Obviously, if you use the Epson matte presentation paper, you probably are selecting the correct setting, since that media type setting is built into the Epson driver. You don’t mention using an Epson printer, but I assume you probably are.
So yeah, just make sure that all the correct print settings are being used. You probably are doing that, but I wanted to mention it anyway.
So going to your question, you ask what matte paper would Breathing Color recommend as a replacement for these two papers to get better detail. We have a paper called Vibrance Photo Matte – that would probably be my recommendation if you want to stay, you know, around this paper weight and around this paper thickness – you recommend using the photo matte 235 by Moab.
The Vibrance Photo Matte by Breathing Color is 230gsm, a similar thickness as well. So, Vibrance Photo Matte would fit you pretty well, I think. I’ll throw a link to that product in the show notes for this page, so stick around for the show notes link until the end of the episode.
Hopefully this answers your questions, as always feel free to leave comments on the show notes page of this episode, and I’d be happy to, you know, answer any other questions you have on this. For now, let’s go ahead and move on to the next question.
Announcer 2: Rick from Gifts from the Heart asks, “Is there a good RIP program that will work on the Epson 7900 and 9880 in Windows?”
Justin: Rick, good question, you know, this kind of configuration is probably the most common in terms of compatibility for RIP softwares or layout softwares as I call some of them.
Epson and Windows is kind of the easiest solution to find a RIP for, I think. Many of them out there, I’ve talked about this before on at least one other podcast, we have a few articles floating around on the BC Blog that talk about RIPs – so I’d urge you to check those out. I’ll include some links in the show notes to those other podcasts and articles.
I know one article in particular discusses the need for a RIP in general, it’s super interesting, actually. So be sure to check it out, it’s got some deep comment history that might prove useful for you, you know, where people are kind of throwing their ideas in and some discussion happening there – I think something like 70 or more comments on that article, so be sure to check that out.
I think it’s called something like “Do I really need a RIP?” or something like that. So, that’s another thing I would kind of urge you, is – for what reason are you looking into getting a RIP?
Some people talk about, you know, wanting to get into RIP software for their printer for no reason other than they’ve heard that they’ll get better print results – better color, or better detail, or something like that. Which, really, in general, isn’t the case anymore. So I’d urge you to look at that first, kind of take a step back, and figure out why you need a RIP – if it’s for something like bypassing the default printable length that Epson enforces on you through the driver, that’s a totally understandable and common reason to look for a RIP.
Other reasons, like needing to quickly nest files side-by-side, where it takes quite a while in Photoshop – I think this is something you can do pretty easily in Lightroom if that’s something you have available. So that might allow you to bypass the need for a RIP, if it’s strictly to nest.
You don’t mention kind of what’s your price range. A RIP software, you know, not knowing what reason you need or want a RIP for – it’s a little bit difficult to recommend a RIP that would fit you really well, because the range of RIP softwares that are out there – it’s pretty drastic. All the way from allowing you to lay out your files in a certain way, to nest them, as I mentioned, all the way up to certain workflow things that allow you to, you know, print really quickly and automatically nest files based upon their size, and things like that – things that a full-fledged, large, production print-house would need.
I assume that’s not something you need, looking at these printer models, but I’m not sure. So that would be my second question – what is your price range, in addition to what exactly do you want or need a RIP for. Which features are you looking for, specifically?
So all that being said, a couple of recommendations come to mind for the Windows operating system and these Epson large format models that you mentioned. Something like ImagePrint – this is probably the most common one I hear. Again, I’m making these recommendations just generally, without knowing exactly what you need it for or what your price range is.
But ImagePrint – it’s made by a company called ColorBite. Most definitely one of the most common ones that I hear out there that our customers use. It’s pretty nice. They provide you with a full ICC profile support, which is a big concern for people that don’t do their color management in house. So, ImagePrint, definitely one to check out.
QImage is nice. QImage actually uses the printer driver – and the most important part is that it uses it for color management, so you can use ICC profiles that are supplied by paper manufacturers, you know, the same ICC profiles you would use if you were printing through Photoshop or any other printing software like Lightroom or anything that uses the printer driver.
So QImage is nice, and the price point on QImage is really low – I think at eighty to a hundred dollars or something like that, so really easy to get into.
ImagePrint is going to be in the higher, close to a thousand dollar, range, and it depends on the width that you use – I know that you have 24” and a 44.” I don’t have the pricing in front of me, so I’m not sure, but I know it’s going to run you $700+ dollars for ImagePrint.
More serious RIPs, quote unquote “serious RIPs,” with some more functionality, definitely in terms of color management – you would look for things like Onyx, you know, Onyx Production House – super capable program, definitely one of the most common ones I hear out there for larger print shops that are running high volume production – Onyx, Onyx RIP.
ColorBurst is another one, you know, that’s going to be similar to Onyx – along the same lines. A quote unquote “serious RIP.”
Shiraz is another prevalent one out there that i hear about sometimes.
Wasatch is another one.
So again, it kind of depends on your needs here, I think, and a lot of these have demos, so I would urge you to download a demo of one – most have 30 or 40 day trials. See how it works for you. I definitely know ImagePrint and QImage offer that, so I’d urge you to start there.
And like I said, check out these links that I’m gonna include in the show notes, because it’ll talk a little bit more about RIPs. I think we have a couple of PDFs that you can download that expand upon the capabilities of each RIP a little bit more. So that’s a good place to start, definitely leave some comments on this episode’s show notes page. We’d be happy to reply to you and answer any other questions you have, and hopefully form a discussion. You know, other people can put their input in there as well.
Let’s go ahead and move on to the next question.
Announcer 2: Question number 3 comes from John Clide. John asks, “Which of the BC matte papers are hot press, and which are cold press?”
Justin: So, Breathing Color offers quite a few different art papers – matte art papers. So cold-pressed ones would include Pura Velvet, Elegance Velvet, Pura Bagasse Textured, 600NT, and 28NT. I’ll include all of these in a kind of detailed manner in the shownotes if you want to check them out, along with links to the product pages, but Pura Velvet – anything with the name “Pura” in it essentially indicates that it’s an OBA-free and archival media, which is nice if that’s what you’re looking for.
Out of all the options that I’ve listed here, what do I have 5 different papers that I’ve listed here that are cold-pressed – cold-pressed is essentially just meaning that it has a texture to the base paper. Out of these five options, 600NT is going to be your most pronounced texture – so if you’re looking for something like a heavy watercolor texture, definitely go look at the 600NT option. 28NT being kind of a lighter version of 600NT, so that one’s next in terms of amount of texture, you know, depth of the texture.
So, just kind of depends on what you’re looking for there.
In terms of hot press, or smooth papers, we have the Pura Smooth, the Optica 1, and the Pura Bagasse Smooth. Again, the ones starting with pura indicate that they are optical brightener additive, or OBA, free and archival.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Pura Bagasse is actually a new product – the Pura Bagasse textured or smooth, whichever flavor you go for. This is a new product for us, it’s actually made partially – 70% or 75% from sugar cane (the base of the paper is, I mean). So 70 or 75% sugar cane pulp, and the rest of percentage with recycled cotton, so it’s got that green element, which is kind of cool.
It’s printable on both sides, so it’s generally a pretty cool paper to check out, so I urge you to take a look of those.
Hopefully that answers your question. If you have anymore, definitely post a comment on the show notes page, and, like I said, take a look there also for links to some of these products I’m talking about if you want some more detail.
Let’s go ahead and move on to question four for today’s show.
Announcer 2: This one comes from John at Stitch in Time. John asks, “I have an embroidery business with a frame shop and a viper DTG, or direct to garment, printer. We frame our embroidery as farewell items for our military. I do shirts with the DTG printer and would like to start using it for canvas printing. What would be the best canvas or paper products to use with this printer system?”
Justin: John, that’s a great question. Sounds like you have a pretty awesome business there as well supporting our military with these types of framed embroidered prints. That’s super, super cool.
To answer your question, or, I guess, to give these listeners a little bit of context when I throw out terms like “DTG.” Basically, DTG stands for direct-to-garment. Generally used for t-shirts and other textiles, where you can just pop a t-shirt right in the printer and print a single t-shirt, you know, with whatever graphics you have loaded up. So it’s a pretty cool alternative to the old screen printing process where you have to – it’s a much larger preparation process, and you generally run many more than just one-off prints.
So DTG is kind of coming up recently, and it’s a pretty cool technology. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a ton about this technology – it’s kind of a separate market from what Breathing Color is in, you know, in the high end fine art reproduction space. But I do know that DTG inks are water-based pigments, so I know a couple of customers of ours actually have these printers, a couple of sales reps of mine have talked to them and confirmed that they’ll pretty much print on any canvas. You know, you want to have a canvas that is coated with an inkjet-receptive coating. This just means that it’s coated with a coating that’s designed to accept inks, essentially. Inkjet inks. And to look really nice. And you can go buy like an artist’s canvas and just print directly to that – it’ll work, but it won’t receive the inks very well without that inkjet receptive coating, or that IRC as we typically abbreviate it, or acronym-it.
So make sure it’s something like Breathing Color sells – all of Breathing Color’s canvases are designed for inkjet printing, so basically any of our line will work fine with a DTG printer. So, you know, things like Lyve canvas – which is archival and optical brightener free, would be a good option. We have things like 800M canvas, which is, you know, it’s not archival, it’s kind of designed more for the decor or the hospitality space.
So, depending on the market you’re looking into, pretty much any canvas will work. So you can give our sales staff a call if you have any questions on what’s best for your specific target market, but yeah, the good news is – the majority of our line will be perfectly fine.
Same goes for paper. I just talked in question three about the different fine art papers, so any of those will work just fine. Hopefully that answers your question on that.
Profiling may be a challenge. We won’t have ICC profiles provided for this type of printer, it’s a little bit different than, like I said, the market we usually serve are using HP or Canon or Epson printers. So like a Viper DTG we wouldn’t offer profiles for. So ideally you’d have like an in-house profiling solution or you know someone that does color management profiling for a living. Get them in there and they can probably profile it for you.
I imagine you probably run a Viper DTG printer through some kind of RIP software, so color management expert or you would need to be familiar with the color management that happens through that RIP specifically.
So yeah, just thinking out loud, hopefully those things help you out a little bit. Like I said, always feel free to comment on the show notes page with any additional details you have or any questions you have, we’d be happy to address them more in detail there, or just give us a call.
Alright guys, that is it for today’s episode. Thank you so much for listening and being a part of the show. For the show notes for today’s episode, as always, you can visit the following site: ask-bc.com/episode30.
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