Hard proofing is the best way to get a feel for how your final print will turn out, but it can be costly! In this episode, Justin covers a few tricks for getting the most for your money when hard proofing. He also covers a few solutions to mount photo prints to rigid substrates to display them without glass, and answers a listener question on the risks of using Glamour II and other water-based varnishes to seal inkjet photo prints.
- The bad news on sealing inkjet photo prints with a water-based varnish
- Photo papers that can be varnished
- Using aerosol varnish
- Hard proofing – how to do it without wasting too much media
- Mounting to a rigid substrate with Miracle Muck
- Mounting to a rigid substrate with Glamour II
- Mounting to a rigid substrate with a lamination process
- Much, much more!
Listen in to learn about hard proofing and mounting prints
- Listeners featured in this episode include Frank from FrankPaulPerez.com, Paul, and Stephen from SPRImages.com.
- Our video on using aerosol varnishes on photo prints: click here.
- For more on mounting photo prints, including a full tutorial on using Miracle Muck, check out our blog post Mounting Canvas Prints: An Excellent Gallery Wrap Alternative.
- You can pick up Miracle Muck, as mentioned in the episode, on the RaphaelsAP website.
- 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 varnishing photo prints, proofing tips, and mounting art paper.
Justin: Welcome to Episode 18 of the AskBC podcast! We are quickly edging up on the big 2-0, episode 20! And I couldn’t be more excited, couldn’t be more pumped to have come this far already. I hope you guys are enjoying this, I hope you’re gaining some insight, I hope you appreciate these experts that we’re able to bring on and give their valuable insight, I hope you find it helpful.
Feel free to drop me a line, give me a call, or, better yet, leave an iTunes review with your feedback, let us know what you think – let us know how we can improve. This is all done for you guys so definitely let us know what you think.
Let’s go ahead and jump into the questions for today, without any further adieu, here they are!
Announcer 2: Frank from FrankPaulPerez.com asks, “Can you use Glamour II varnish to seal inkjet photo prints? Will the Glamour smear the print?”
Justin: That’s a fantastic question Frank, and for anybody that doesn’t know, our Glamour II varnish is essentially a water-based varnish that gets diluted with a bit of distilled water before you apply it to a print. Typically a canvas print, but people also varnish fine art papers and a lot of people have this exact question as to whether they can varnish, you know, a glossy luster, a matte photo paper.
Unfortunately, the kind of quick and easy answer to that is no. Unfortunately the way that photo papers handle the ink where it kind of sits on the surface rather than getting absorbed into kind of a inkjet layer that a canvas or a fine art paper may use, like I said, the ink sits on the surface and once you apply, especially with a roller, a water-based varnish like either one of our Timeless or our Glamour II, it just doesn’t work. You’ll find that the ink quickly smears right off the surface; you’ll get a lot of ink uptake on the roller that you’re using.
There are some photo papers that you can actually varnish with Timeless or Glamour II or any other water-based varnish. Typically like a Baryta photo paper you’re able to use this type of varnish on, but you do have to spray. And it can be tricky, it can be really tricky with a water-based varnish, because you have to spray it on in such thin layers some people just tend to put it on way too thick and you get the same kind of smearing effect.
So generally speaking, when we’re talking about varnishing photo paper prints, which is definitely a cool idea, cause you know it allows you to display the photo paper print in kind of a unique way where you don’t have to put it behind glass, which is something a lot of people look for – we get calls to the Breathing Color tech support and customer support line, we get calls almost daily, you know, at least a few times a week, asking this exact question. So normally in this kind of case, I would recommend going for an aerosol varnish, which we don’t sell, but there’s a few out there.
We actually posted a blog post about this recently I think, and we made a video for it because it’s so common, we kind of posted this quick video – we’re not experts on applying this aerosol varnish, so, by no means is it an end-all be-all video, but it can be helpful, and we recommend a couple of specific brands. So I’ll make sure to link up to that video in the show notes so you can check that out after this episode.
But yeah, you can’t use Glamour II, generally speaking, to varnish photo paper prints.
Announcer 2: Paul asks, “I find it better to proof a print with the final print paper. I would print in 8×10, that’s the smallest my printer will take, any suggestions on saving money here?”
Justin: Hey good question, Paul. Thanks for taking the time to write in, I really appreciate it. So you’re doing hard proofing. You’re printing, which is always a good idea, you know, some people only soft proof, and that works pretty well if you have a good calibrated and profiled monitor. You’re hard proofing, and it’s always good to do that on the same paper that the final print will be on. It’s kind of ideal. And you’re trying to maximize the media that you have, which is understandable, because media is generally pretty expensive. You don’t mention if you use rolls or sheets.
I think rolls can be a little bit more complicated. One way we handle the sheets on, you know, the smaller format like 13” and 17” wide sheet fed printers is pretty much just printing the image pretty small like on a fourth of the page and just reloading the sheet, kind of re-feeding the sheet through and printing four or six or eight time, you know, whatever makes sense as to which sheet and image size you’re using.
So yeah, we do this when we’re making ICC profiles for paper. We use a 13”x19” or 11”x17” and we’ll print the letter size profile target, we’ll scan that in and then we’ll kind of print an evaluation image on the other half of the 11”x17” or 13”x19, so, we kind of use one sheet to get both jobs done and with the same thing you have in mind, just maximizing the media that we have – minimizing waste.
Always a good idea. So, that’s kind of my thought on this. If you’re using sheets, just print multiple images onto one sheet. And if you’re using rolls, I know it’s pretty common to not be able to reprint over an area that’s already been printed. I have been told before to try to turn off the PW sensor – the page width sensor – I think that applies to Epson only. Maybe Canon has something similar, I’m not 100% sure immediately. So you can try that, turn off the page width sensor, kind of roll back the part of the roll that’s already been printed and try to print over that same area again just off to the left or whatever blank space you have.
So that’s one thing you could try. Also, if you’re printing multiple different images all on the same media at once, you can of course just multi-up the images like in-line on one canvas in Photoshop and maximize the media like that, right? So, just fill up the width of the roll with multiple different images. Seemingly obvious, but, you know, some people may not think of that immediately.
So, that’s kind of my thoughts. Hope it’s helpful, I assume that you might be using sheets here, so hopefully that’s something you haven’t tried, and thanks again for asking that question.
Announcer 2: Steven from SPRImages.com asks, “I use Epson cold press that is coated with EcoPrint Shield and then mount it to a 1ml polystyrene sheet. The paper has started to curl up at the edges with enough slow pressure to delaminate the mounting adhesive. I know this would be less of a problem with stretched canvas, but I prefer the sharper edges.”
Justin: Hey Steven, that’s a great question. This is an interesting one, so just to kind of reiterate what you’re doing here – you’re taking some Epson fine art paper, printing it out, coating it with EcoPrint Shield (which is a water-based print varnish), and you’re taking the varnished fine art paper print and you are mounting it to a 1ml thick polystyrene sheet, which I think the polystyrene is pre-adhesived, so you’re pulling off kind of the adhesive backing from the polystyrene sheet and sticking the varnish print on that way, and you were saying that recently the paper starts to curl away from the adhesive, from the polystyrene sheet, you know, delaminating itself from the mounting adhesive, so clearly that’s an issue.
You say you don’t want to use the conventional stretched canvas method, you like the sharp edges, which I agree, I think displaying mounted photo or even trimmed canvas prints this way is kind of a cool and unique approach. So I have seen this done before, quite a few times. The main difference I see with your workflow is you’re using the polystyrene sheet that has the adhesive layer on it already, and I think probably what’s happening is that layer is just not strong enough.
I think you mentioned in part of your question that it is a high-tack adhesive, but I just don’t think it’s strong enough or designed to be used this way. So what I normally see done, or the product I normally see used is made by Miracle Muck. It’s kind of made specific for this application. It’s kind of a thick, kind of pasty archival paste – I don’t know what else to call it. It’s really like a glue or like a honey consistency, so you just apply with a roller a layer to the rigid substrate that you’re using – in your case polystyrene – I’ve seen people use MDF or, you know, even wood or like gator board or foam core, different things. But you just apply a thin layer of this Miracle Muck to the surface of the rigid substrate you’re mounting to and then you just apply the print on top of that. This Miracle Muck kind of grabs on both sides a bit harder, a bit more firm, I think, than the adhesive layer that’s already on that polystyrene sheet, so I’d kind of bypass that and try this route instead.
I’ve seen, and our customers have recommended, Glamour II with this same use and Glamour II is a varnish that we make. It’s not really designed for mounting adhesive, but it’s pretty thick, it’s got this same kind of honey consistency, and you usually will dilute it before you use it as a top coat, you know, over a print. But, yeah, somebody got creative and they actually found that yeah, it actually works out pretty well for a mounting adhesive. So if you have any of that lying around or anything you could give that a shot.
I’m not sure that I’ve seen it tested with fine art paper, I know I’ve seen it done with canvas, so I don’t know if that’d be much of a difference, but I think it would probably work out okay. Like I said, test a small piece first, see how it works. I always recommend testing a smaller section before you do anything too crazy, even with Miracle Muck or anything else, before you spend too much money, test out a small piece, see how it works. But yeah, I think this type of mounting adhesive that’s made specifically for mounting prints, you know, to rigid substrates would kind of be your best route to go.
Another method that I’ve seen print labs use is when they’re face mounting photo prints to acrylic, they’ll take the photo print and they’ll actually laminate it through a heat and pressure lamination system, and the lamination will have a removable adhesive layer and they’ll use that to apply to a rigid substrate, so that might be an option if paper curl is causing this. Because you know the EcoPrint Shield is water-based, so maybe it’s reacting with the environment and curling away from the polystyrene sheet, and maybe that in combination with the adhesive that’s not quite strong enough is causing this delamination a bit.
So that’s something you could, use this kind of roll lamination technique that where the lamination has an adhesive. Laminate it, pull off the adhesive backing, and kind of mount it to the polystyrene or whatever else you’d want to use. Obviously that’s going to be a bit more difficult to test. You need to have the proper lamination equipment and the actual lamination film itself, so you can pick up some Miracle Muck for pretty cheap I think, and a roller, and try that as a first test. But, yeah, just another idea. Leave a comment if you end up testing this out. Let us know how it works out, or if you end up finding something else that works let us know, I’d love to share this stuff with customers and they like to see these ideas that are kind of unique approaches to finishing art prints or reproductions. So yeah, definitely let us know.
Alright guys, that is it for today’s episode. Thank you so much for listening, and if you want to grab the show notes for today’s episode, you can do that pretty easily by visiting ask-bc.com/episode18, and again thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to listen to this show. I hope it’s helpful for you guys, and definitely leave us some feedback. If you have just 60 seconds, head over to iTunes, search for the AskBC podcast; leave us a quick rating and some feedback.
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