Justin takes some time on this episode to answer a tall order of printmaking inquiries from listeners.
Tune in for the answers to questions such as, “Isn’t there some way I can remotely schedule printings to prevent nozzle clogging?” “Does Breathing Color’s Silverada Metallic Canvas really not need to be varnished? What about UV light?”, and “How can I bypass the print length limit without using a RIP?”
Also, a quick and simple overview to installing ICC profiles from third party paper manufacturers like Breathing Color.
- Changing the canvas size in Photoshop to print on canvas with a paper leader attached.
- Mounting a photo print to fabric.
- Why our Silverada Metallic Canvas doesn’t need to be varnished.
- How important is it, really, to protect prints from UV light?
- A simple explanation on ICC profile installation for the beginner printmaker. (CLICK HERE to download Justin’s Mac installation notes mentioned in the episode.)
- Bypassing the driver length limit with software to allow for extra long prints.
- Using QImage to schedule automatic printing that prevents nozzle clogs when away from your machine.
Listen in to learn about no-varnish canvas, ICC profile installation, and more
- Listeners featured in this episode include Robert Waldridge, Ana Espinosa Rydman, Henry Sautter, Carlos, Lawrence Beck, and Myrna.
- Related blog post for Question #1: How to Load Canvas Sheets in a Desktop Printer.
- For mounting applications like the one discussed in this episode, check out Raphael’s Miracle Muck.
- As mentioned in Question #4, click here to download Justin’s instructions on installing ICC profiles on a Mac running 10.7.3 (Lion) or 10.9 (Mavericks).
- Check out QImage.
- Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes.
- Using QImage to schedule automatic printings to prevent nozzle clogging.
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, welcome to episode 27 of the AskBC podcast!
Today we talk about bypassing the driver length limit, scheduling prints to help prevent print head clogging, and the basics of using an ICC profile.
Hope you guys don’t mind, but today I’m going to be jumping around a little bit. Lot of different questions to cover, and there isn’t necessarily going to be a single topic being discussed today. Hope that’s not a problem, I guess that’s one of the benefits of being the host of the show, isn’t it?
Let’s go ahead and jump into the first question.
This question looks like it comes from Robert Waldridge. Robert asks, “In a previous blog article, you recommend adding a paper strip to the Lyve canvas when I’m using the Epson 3880 to help grab the sheet and feed it through. This works really well, but you lose the amount of canvas for printing that you use for adding the paper strip. Do you know of any way to compensate for this, such that you can print on the entire canvas sheet?
I’m just gonna give you guys a little bit of context as to what Robert is talking about. This previous blog article addresses a pretty common issue trying to feed sheets into the smaller format printers. The 17” wide printers and smaller, like the Epson 3880, the Epson 3800, 2880, and so forth.
So, basically what we recommend doing, and I’ll include a link to this specific article in the show notes, that way you can have a look if you haven’t already, but basically what we recommend doing is taking a one inch leader, that is a, you know, sheet of photo paper, a sheet of some other type of paper, that the printer can grip a little bit easier than the backside of the canvas; taking that one inch leader and sticking it on, kind of butting it up to the leading edge of the canvas sheet that you’ll be printing with.
And what that does, as Robert is saying here, is, you know, you’re losing that inch that you’re using for the leader – you’re kind of losing that because the printer is assuming that’s part of the canvas sheet that you’re using.
This is a pretty easy fix, and I think this is in the article as well, but what you need to do after you add that inch (or two inch, or whatever size you make that leader – we recommend one inch), but all you need to do is go into the canvas size in Photoshop or whatever editing software you’re using, and change your canvas size from the length – say you’re using a 13”x19” sheet, change it from 19 inches long to 20 inches, you know, or whatever size the leader is.
So take your physical sheet size and add the width of the leader that you’re using, so in this case, 19 plus one is 20, so your canvas size would then be 13”x20”, even though the sheet that you’re printing is a 13”x19”. Hope I didn’t over-explain that, hope it makes sense.
But yeah, adjust your canvas size, and that should take care of this problem you’re seeing Robert. Hope that helps. Let’s go ahead and jump into the next question.
This one is from Ana Espinosa Rydman, and she’s with Modern American Expressions. Anna asks, “What should I use to adhere a photo print to a fabric on a hard subsurface?”
This one’s gonna be pretty short and sweet. What I’d recommend in this case is using a product called Miracle Muck, and Miracle Muck is made by a company called Raphael’s, and I’ll go ahead and include a link in the show notes for this as well.
But pretty common mounting adhesive that people use to adhere prints to fabric or to rigid substrates, things of that sort. So, yeah, Raphael’s Miracle Muck works really, really well. Like i said, I’ll include a link for you guys who need that, so make sure to check the show notes.
The next question today comes from Henry Sautter. Henry asks, “The information about your Silverada metallic canvas states that it does not need to be varnished, which is great. My question is, will the image be protected from UV light? This is, after all, one reason why I use a varnish. My follow-up question is, why is a varnish not needed exactly? What characteristics of this canvas make it different from other products in this respect?”
That’s a great question Henry. One that we address pretty frequently, as you could imagine, when we’re selling these no-varnish canvases. People are often pretty surprised and kind of wondering how it works, you know, “how can I not use this varnish that I’ve been using for years on matte canvas?” and “Will everything be okay?”
Well the answer is, “yes.” You don’t need to varnish everything, and with that being said, there’s always going to be some differences between canvas that’s not varnished and one that is. There’s always that physical layer of protection that’s going to provide some durability, that’s kind of common sense, but totally worth mentioning.
So it kind of depends on what market you’re going into, you know, how you’re selling these prints, how you’re positioning them. So, that being said, when you’re talking about a no-varnish canvas, you ask, “will it still be protected from UV light?”
Well, first off I should say that all of our no-varnish canvases are optical brightener-free, these optical brighteners are typically referred to as OBAs (Optical Brightener Additives). So they’re all OBA-free, and the reason I point this out is that OBAs are essentially designed to interact with UV light and fluoresce and make the media’s white point look much higher, make it look much whiter than it is when it’s not interacting with this UV light. It seems great and all, the higher the white point the better in general, right?
There are some downsides to this though, one of which is that inconsistency under different lighting conditions. You always want your print to look consistent no matter where it is, right? So that’s one downside. Another is that these optical brightener additives, these OBAs, they will burn out. So once they can no longer fluoresce any more and they burn out, this is when you start seeing yellowing.
So, in a media that’s OBA-free but still bright-white as the Silverada metallic canvas is that you’re mentioning, it’s not as important to block UV light since, you know, the media isn’t really affected by UV light this way.
Then you go into, you know, does the ink need to be protected from UV light? ANd, you know, modern day inks are such that they have such a long life-span in a print (and this is talking about an aqueous pigmented ink, obviously), the inks are so advanced now that, their lifespan is extremely long.
And this is not typically your quote-unquote “weak point,” when you’re talking about a fine art print and archivability. So inks are gonna last you 100+ years, right, when you’re using a modern ink, a modern aqueous pigment ink. They’re gonna last you 100+ years, so UV light in that respect is not that important to block.
So you do away with the OBAs, you use a high quality ink that’s clearly archival, it’s not gonna be that big of a deal. You know, you say this is one of the primary reasons that you use a varnish, but that’s not typically why people use varnish. The most important reason, you know, in my opinion, and from people that I talk to, is you use varnish to add durability. These prints are gonna be hung in a hotel or something like that, a lot of people walking by.
You add that physical layer of durability between the print and the elements, and that’s super important. And most commonly, varnish was developed to prevent edge cracking on canvas when you’re gallery wrapping it, right? When you’re putting it around stretcher bars. When you print on matte canvas and you try to gallery wrap it without varnish you see ink separation, you see ink cracking around the edges where tension is put around the stretcher bars.
So, that varnish definitely helps protect that as well. So I’m not too concerned with the UV light on an OBA-free canvas using modern day inks. It’s not going to be a problem.
So, hope that answers your questions. As always, with these answers, you can definitely feel free to leave a comment down in the comments section of the show notes page, and we can further the discussion and get some input from other people in the industry on this.
So, with that being said, let’s go ahead and move on to the next question.
Next one comes from Carlos. Carlos asks, “After you download your ICC profiles, what else do you have to do? Do you store them in a specific file directory? Whenever you want to use them, do you have to do something specific, or will the printer automatically choose the right one for the paper you’re using?”
Interesting questions Carlos, a few different pieces here obviously. I’m gonna try to address all of them. And those of you who are listening, this might seem a little elementary or entry-level, but, you know, all kinds of listeners to this #AskBC show, so bear with me, and I’m gonna explain some of the basics for those of you who are listening who might not be as familiar with ICC profiles.
You know, I get this question a lot believe it or not, so let’s talk about it.
So first, Carlos, you’re asking, after you download the ICC profile, what else do you have to do? Well first, after you download it, you have to install it, obviously. So what you want to do, and this is gonna vary depending on the operating system that you’re using, whether it’s a Windows PC or a Macintosh. Pretty simple though, with a Windows PC you can just right click on it, typically, and make sure it’s not in a ZIP file or anything like that, just right click on it and then click “Install Profile” and, basically what that does, is put it in the Windows system directory where you install profiles.
So it’s just like a quick way to do it rather than going into the proper file directory and copy and pasting it in there. So yeah, right click on the profile for Windows, and then click “Install Profile” and that’s pretty much all you need to do, takes 2 seconds. Very simple.
If you’re curious like I am, and you wonder, “where is it putting the file? What’s that directory?” I’ll go ahead and read that out for you here. It’s in the Windows directory, the System 32 folder, “Spool,” “Drivers,” and then the “Color” directory. So this is kind of where all of the profiles that you see when you install a printer driver, they all get put into here. So all the default stuff that you have when you’re printing is all housed right in here, and when you install a new one, it gets put in here as well.
And for these directories, I’ll pop these in the show notes, that way for whatever reason if you’re trying to install a profile and you’ve landed here, you have a quick way to see this directory. I know it’s hard when I’m reading it out here. So check the show notes for that.
And for Mac, Mac is a little more complicated. Sometimes when you download ICC profiles from a paper manufacturer you will get it in a self-installer, the .dmg format, and they make it a little bit easy, but typically you’ll need to just drop this into the proper system directory. And basically this can change a little bit based on what Mac OS you’re using, but more or less it’s in your User Directory, and then under Library, Color Sync, and then the Profiles directory. This is where they’re housed.
Some different weird things happened with 10.7.3 with Mac OS Lion, and then with 10.9 Mavericks, different folders can be hidden based on user privileges and things like that, I have this little note thing that I copy for when I’m addressing this problem in email or wherever, and I’ll go ahead and put the notes about the 10.7.3 and the 10.9 in the show notes, so if you’re having some issues finding this profiles directory in Mac, check out the show notes, and I’ll include these little caveats and how to work around them there.
So hopefully that answers your question there, if not go ahead and leave a comment and I’ll be happy to expand upon that answer.
Actually you had another couple parts to this question, sorry.
Next you asked if they store them in a specific directory, we addressed that. Next you ask, “Whenever you want to use them, do you have to do something or will the printer automatically choose the right one for the paper you’re using?”
Yeah, you definitely have to do something. Generally speaking, the software will not automatically select which ICC profile you’re using. It’s not tied in with a media type setting or anything else that you’re selecting in the driver or on the interface of the printer, so it’s a manual selection.
This is kind of a loaded question, I suggest – we have some step-by-step instructions if you’re using Breathing Color media. If you go to our website and just go under the “Support” tab you’ll see an ICC Profiles and Print Instructions link. We have a lot of screenshots and things like that that show you different scenarios, you know, Mac and Windows and Photoshop and the different plugins and stuff you can use to print. It’ll show you screenshots that’ll help you select the ICC profile and select all your settings in the printer driver, so it’s kind of hard for me to address every possible situation here without knowing the details of what you’re using.
But generally speaking, I’ll speak in terms of Photoshop, because this is the most common that people are using to print. Right when you click “File,” “Print,” a dialogue window pops up and you’ll see a color management section next to a print preview. And under that color management section you’ll see a “profile” drop down, and this basically, well, first I guess you’ll see a “color handling” drop down, and that drop down basically allows you to say you want the software to manage the color, you know, Photoshop to manage the color, or, alternatively, you want the printer to manage the color, and if you’re using an ICC profile, which is generally a good practice, you’ll want the software – Photoshop – to manage the color, so you’d select “Photoshop manages color,” and then there’s the drop down menu right below that that says “Printer profile,” and this is where you’re selecting the profile that you just installed.
Make sure you look at the name of the profile that you’re installing and you’ll find that exact same name on here generally, so, like ours (the Breathing Color ones) start with “BC_’printermodel’” etcetera, etcetera, depending on the media that you’re using. And just look for that on this list, it’s normally alphabetized, so pretty easy to find, and then just pair that up with the proper media type and other settings that the paper manufacturer recommends. Page size and things like that. And you should be ready to print.
So that, in a nutshell, so to speak, is kind of a breakdown of how you use an ICC profile. How to install them, things like that. Like I said, generally, depending on the paper that you’re using, most manufacturers have some PDFs or step-by-step walkthroughs like Breathing Color does, so definitely recommend referring here so that you get all the print settings correct and you get a good print the first time.
Alright, let’s go ahead and jump into the next question. This one comes from Lawrence Beck from lawrencebeck.com. Lawrence asks, “I have an Epson 3880 and I need to make a print that’s 46″ long. The printer driver on the 3880 only allows for 37.5″ prints. Is there any free or inexpensive software that will allow longer prints than this? I have no need for a RIP, I’d just like to make longer prints.
Lawrence, it actually sounds like you do have a need for a RIP, unfortunately. This may be your only need for a RIP, but yeah, a RIPs pretty handy – if you’re printing more than one image, RIPs are pretty awesome for nesting, depending on your needs.
Like I said, nesting and bypassing this length limit from the printer driver are definitely the most common reasons to get into using a RIP or piece of layout software.
Off the top of my head, what I would recommend in terms of a low-cost solution for this is QImage. I believe QImage does have a demo that you can download to try this out but it should let you circumvent that 37.5” length limitation on the Epson 3880. So give QImage a try. Pretty handy piece of software definitely, and try the demo, see if it works out.
It’s also only about $80, so if it ends up working out for you it’s a pretty small investment in terms of printmaking.
Another thing I’ve heard, and I haven’t tested this so I don’t know if it actually works, and it wasn’t on a 3880 I don’t think, I think it was a 4900 or something, but a quick thing to try, you know, it might work it might not, I’m not really sure.
But I’ve heard this gentleman write about this test that he was able to do successfully on what I think was a 4900 where he simply saved the file as a PDF and opened it in Adobe Acrobat and printed it from there, and for whatever reason it, you know, made it past that driver length limitation. So yeah, try to save it as a PDF, open it in Acrobat, and send it to print. See if that works.
Like I said, haven’t tried it, but if it ends up working for you that’d be fantastic. Just another possible tip there.
And this next question today comes from Myrna. Myrna says, “Since I’m away from my wide format printer for six months at a time, is there a firmware or a software that will turn on my printer remotely periodically and print in order to prevent clogging from lack of regular use?”
Myrna, good question, thank you for submitting it.
You know, I really didn’t have a great solution for this for a long time. I wasn’t aware of any software out there that allowed you to do this. Seems like a pretty strange thing, you know, as you probably have seen, these printers, with the lack of regular use they can clog up pretty quick. Six months is a huge time in terms of printing, and if you use your printer not printing for six months you’re gonna have some big problems when you get back, no doubt about it.
Even like a week I’d recommend doing prints every few days, weekly at most.
So yeah, I didn’t have a solution to this for quite a while, and then recently I got an email and I threw this question on at this point in this show because we just talked about QImage and I recently got an image from Mike Chaney over at QImage and I think the subject was something like, “Get rid of Epson ink clogs for good!” and I was like “Oh wow, let’s go ahead and read that, because that’s pretty intriguing.”
And you don’t’ mention in your question Myrna if you’re printing with an Epson or what type of printer you’re using, but I definitely recommend looking at QImage because they apparently have added a feature recently that does allow you to schedule certain prints at certain periods to whatever you need I guess, I’m not sure what the intervals are or if it’s totally customizable, but it allows you to schedule these print jobs and keep your printer going, keep ink going through the lines and the printhead.
So this might be something you can use. As I mentioned in the previous question and answer, that QImage is pretty affordable – $79 I think, $80, and it’s got some pretty unique features and some interesting uses such as the nesting and the bypassing the length limit, obviously, as we just talked about.
So, you know, if for nothing else than preventing head clogs, you know the $70 or $80 is certainly cheaper than replacing a printhead or anything like that, so definitely look into that. QImage, I’ll put the link to that in the show notes so you can have that if you’d like.
Alright guys, that’s it for today’s episode. Thank you so much for listening.
For the show notes, you can visit ask-bc.com/episode27. That’s ask-bc.com/episode27. Thanks so much for submitting these questions and for being a part of the show, keep them coming, and if you enjoyed this show, please, please please, leave us an iTunes review. It’s pretty simple, just launch iTunes and search for the AskBC podcast. Leave us a rating and review, helps us know how we’re doing and is super important to us.
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