Getting Back to Black and White Printing

March 18, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I’ve spent some time over the past few weeks improving my techniques for black and white printing.  The main push was to use the QuadTone RIP,  Create RGB-ICC, tool to generate ICCs that would incorporate a Photoshop curve (ACV file) into an ICC file that could be used with any printing application without having to add the curve manually to the image in Photoshop.

 

Let me back up a bit and explain. I’m printing with an ink set known as UT14. The set has five black tones and a gloss optimizer in the 6th cartridge position. The five black tones consist of Ebony, 100% carbon black ink, two toned (warm and cool) black inks and two light shades of toned black ink. When you are printing on mat paper, you can use any of the inks to achieve a desired tone. With glossy ink, you need to limit the amount of Ebony carbon ink used as it does not absorb into a glossy surface. With the UT14 ink set, the Ebony ink and the gloss optimizer are controlled by the blue channel. The warm toned inks are controlled by the red channel. And, the cool tone inks are controlled by the green channel.

 

The trick to getting a good tonal result, or to control the Ebony ink so that you can print on glossy surfaces, is to go into the Photoshop adjustments panel and make changes in the three color curves. These curves can be saved and called up in Photoshop, so once you have a perfected a set of curves for a certain paper, you can call it up and apply it to the image before printing. When the image is finally printed, you print with the printer settings for printer controls and gamma 2.2 color space.

 

Using the curves in this manner is not terribly difficult – if you have and know Photoshop. You can’t add curves from within LightRoom and you can’t do it from a simple photo editor such as Picasa. If the curves were embedded into an ICC file, it would be an easy thing to change the printer settings to print with photo application controls and use the necessary ICC.  This would allow printing out of any photo application since the application of an ICC file to a print is a function of the printer driver, not the photo application.

 

Alas, try as I might, the Create RGB-ICC tool just does not work correctly. I read and re-read the instructions for creating and embedding the necessary files, but every time, the resulting ICC does not create a print that looks anything like what the print with the added Photoshop curves looks like. So, for the time being, if you want to print on glossy paper with the UT14 ink set, you will need to use a Photoshop curve.

 

The curves do work very well. The tone ramps are essentially perfect and there are no surface blemishes whatsoever. If you would like to try them out, I have posted them at http://1drv.ms/1hh7Ax0. At this link are three curves, (.acv files), scans of test prints on several Red River papers and a set of instructions for using the curves – with Photoshop.

 

If you are using the UT14 ink set, these will give you really impressive glossy black and white prints. 


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