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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Michelle Montgomery

member since: 2/26/2007

Matching Prints to Monitor

My printer (Epson Stylus Photo R1800) is not printing true colors. While looking at the computer screen, they look fine, but when I print them, they are dark. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for your help.

6/1/2007 11:16:56 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Michelle, the first step is to calibrate your monitor. There are several good calibration systems out there. I use the Colorvision Spyder2 and achieve very good results. However, you will never get a print on paper to look exactly like an image on a monitor. Realize that the monitor is an RGB device that emits light, while the print is a CMYK colorspace and may be on a variety of media from gloss to matte finish.
Again, the starting point is a calibrated monitor. Then, you'll likely have to "dial in" your print to get the desired results. If your print is a bit darker than the final monitor image, then darken the screen to come as close to the print as possible using the monitor's backlight and/or brightness controls (check your printer manual).
Once the screen is close to the print, use a curves adjustment to affect the blacks, whites, or middle tones to get the desired result. Then print another test. You should get there with a few tweaks and get good results. Remember to recalibrate the monitor periodically.
Hope this helps.

6/1/2007 5:41:15 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery

member since: 12/13/2005
  Hi Michelle,
John is correct but left out the part about also setting your printer profile to the same profile you create when running the Spyder2 calibration software.
When you have your monitor & printer set to the same profile, your prints will be very close to what you see on screen.

6/4/2007 12:27:11 PM

Thomas Sterr
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Thomas
Thomas's Gallery

member since: 2/25/2004
  Probably your printer driver is not set correct. Where are you printing from, PS, PS Editor, or direct ro the R1800 driver?
If printing from the PS EDITOR, makes sure under Color Managment: Adobe (RGB 1998)is selected as source, then sRGB IEC61966-2.1 is selected under Printer Profile, then Relative Colorimetric is selected under Rendering Intent; Go Print, Properties and make sure the right paper and so on is selected under the Advanced Screen, print and you should be able to come close what you see on your screen, go from here to make any adjustments to your pribter if nec.

6/4/2007 5:19:44 PM

Sherry King

member since: 6/25/2006
  I also have an Epson R1800 printer and had the same problem. We have Mac computers and all I did to 'fix' the problem was to go to System Preferences, then Displays, select the Color tab, and click the Calibrate button. I set up a profile and selected the same profile when printing. However, as Thomas said, make sure you select the correct paper. Good luck. -- Sherry

6/5/2007 6:02:17 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  One thing everybody has forgotten is "which program" is being used to Edit the pic. If it is Photoshop 7 or 8 then one must edit the colour settings and change 20% dot gain to 0%. If Elements is being used then one must turn off the colour management, then begin to calibrate using normal methods already listed above.
Photoshop was originally designed and created for the Macintosh computer for use in the Printing industry, and the "Dot Gain" function is to allow a margin for "ink squash" on Print Presses.
Obviously if you are printing direct to your own desktop printer then this mode should be turned off and other calibration must be done specifically for your own printer and set-up.
You will never be able to "get-what-you-see" until this dot gain function is set to 0%.
"Elements" is a watered down version of Photoshop and has limited editing with the Dot Gain function. Just urn it off (eg: colour management = none) and calibrate your monitor using the methods other members have described above.

6/5/2007 6:57:35 PM

Orlando Negron

member since: 10/6/2004

Where is that dot gain in Photoshop?


6/7/2007 6:50:22 AM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  In Photoshop 7 and 8 it's under COLOUR SETTINGS.... CUSTOM.... then WORKING SPACES.

6/7/2007 6:14:34 PM

Jon Canfield

member since: 4/25/2005
  The Dot Gain settings only affect grayscale and spot color such as duotone prints. For color printing, I suggest using Adobe RGB if you're in Photoshop, or Optimize images for Printing if you use Elements.

As the other posters mentioned, the starting point is a calibrated monitor. If you use a Mac, the Calibration Assistant can be used, on Windows you can use Adobe Gamma. The best way to calibrate though is with a hardware device like the Spyder, huey, or eyeOne Display.

I do cover all of this in both my color management class here at BetterPhoto, and my book "Print Like a Pro".


6/7/2007 7:01:24 PM

Karoly ka Harkai

member since: 6/8/2007
  The printer drivers are very sensitive softwares. What is your printer name?
Does your printer driver well installed?

6/8/2007 3:02:03 AM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  DOT GAIN happens on all Print Presses in all modes and to varying degrees, whether it be Greyscale, Duotone, Tritone, Quadtone or CMYK. Every Press is different, as is every Desktop Printer. The only time the DOT GAIN functions are irrelevant is when you are using "light" not "ink" to produce an image (ie: RGB pic printed on an LED diode printer). If INK is involved anywhere in the process then DOT GAIN becomes a factor, and is different for each printer, and brand and model.
If you are printing an RGB image to a desktop printer using toner or ink, then somewhere inbetween the two modes is an automatic CMYK conversion happening (ie: you cannot print an RGB pic to a CMYK printer without this conversion). I think it better to convert the pic to CMYK first, using a pre-set "dot gain" function to get correct ink coverage. The image on screen will display the image with say 20% or 30% dot gain (to show you if it is too dark etc) which will allow you to modify or lighten your pic before printing. If you have various Printers, then you will need a different setting for each.

6/8/2007 7:39:26 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  Inside the CUSTOM CMYK setting is the DOT GAIN number box where you can enter whatever percentage you require. Underneath this is the BLACK INK LIMIT boxes. If you think of CMYK being 4 x inks... then one would expect the total ink limit to be 100% for each (ie: 400% coverage)... where say a "full rich black" could consist of 100% Cyan, 100% Magenta, 100% Yellow and also 100% Black. This would give the richest of "blacks" possible. Unfortunately this can cause drying problems on Print Presses, and possible "over saturation" on desktop printers (too heavy).
Many professional Print Houses ask that you limit your ink coverage to around 270% to 300% to avoid some of these problems. Hence, if these settings are used, your image "on screen" may appear different to compensate for this. It cannot be ignored and left in "auto mode".
However if your normal method of printing is done using RGB and you let the auto CMYK conversion filter kick-in when downloading your file to your desktop printer, then you will have to calibrate your "screen to print" in a different way. But, being aware of some of the settings I have mentioned will put you in better touch with potential differences and/or print problems, whether it be to a Print Press or your Desktop Printer.
Many people have never ever switched their pic from RGB to CMYK. If you try it, you will immediately notice a change in "colours" on screen. Computer screens use "video" to display a range of colours in RGB. Printing is done using CMYK inks (plus exra ink colours for greater effect). Ink and video are very very different, saturation and luminosity especially. You can see some colours on a screen that are impossibe to create using ink. This confuses many people. "Why won't it print they way it looks on screen?" I constantly hear people say. I have been in the print game for many many years and RGB is only the beginning. Being CMYK savvy will help.

6/8/2007 8:55:40 PM


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