Graphics and hardcopy – Finding the right mediums

If there’s a quick way of driving graphic artists up the wall, it’s probably hard copy printing. For commercial jobs, the risk is always there that someone will want a nice fluffy medium which is guaranteed to play havoc with the hard copy.

Add to this the requirement for picture perfect resolution, and you have the recipe for artists developing a whole new relationship with their printer cartridges.

Media and commercial issues

The simple fact is that some media are murder for hard copy quality. Most experienced clients know that they need good quality media, particularly for advertising, but there’s always one who wants glossy magazine standard. Others want greeting card style prints, which are really printer jobs, but have to be set up for that sort of printing, and, of course, samples are required.

The short answer is good quality high gsm card, treated or not, depending on the job. Everything looks good on this stuff, and the card doesn’t do weird things with the ink or toner. Even the greeting card addicts will recognize the card quality, however clueless they may be about the technical issues.

Generally speaking, the high gsm media are also good for talking to printers about production copy, too. “X gsm” equates to card-based media directly, (even that very demanding soft card) and for the glossy magazine people, it’s actually better quality resolution, which is what print production needs to see, fully self explanatory. You will get a good commercial print, provided everyone’s on the same page with the quality issues.

Creative media issues

For creative graphics, media can make or break a good image. You can use up a lot of ink cartridges using soft paper or card, while jamming your printer with a sort of manic regularity.

Again high gsm card is a big help. This type of card is a proof standard print medium, and it will help you analyze problems and resolution issues more easily. The actual printing ritual is a bit of a grind, but it’ll save a fortune in mistakes, “printer rage”, and the other related joys of being a graphic artist.

(Note: Good quality artistic wax paper is also excellent, and cheaper than the high gsm card.)

1. Do a basic print on photo quality paper. This will find the software and printer issues very quickly. Whether you’re using CMYK or RGB, the problems will come out before you commit any more time and effort. Fiddling with print settings is definitely an acquired taste, but it’s worth it to get the print right.

2. Try the high gsm card print. This isn’t masochism, it’s making sure the photo print quality comes out on decent media. You will note some obvious quality differences on the card. This is top quality rendering, so it’s likely to find any other issues the photo print didn’t.

3. Happy with the high gsm? Now try the medium you’ve selected. The print should be perfect, even if you’re printing on sumi paper or hand made bamboo paper.

No trickery involved. The two prior prints are quality controls, obviously, but they’re both dealing with the source data. Any possible issues will show up in one or the other. Happy printing!

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