How do I get the best color on my printer
May 4, 2010 10:34 AM   Subscribe

How do I get the widest possible range of colors on my Epson Stylus Pro 4880 printer?

I am especially interested in bright colors. Bright dark colors and vibrant reds and oranges.

Currently I am using the following settings:
File Format: RGB
Illustrator Color Print Settings -
Color Handling: Let Illustrator Determine Color
Color Profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Rendering Intent: Relative Colorimetric

Printer Settings:
Paper: Enhanced Matte Paper (which is what we are printing on)
Ink: Matte Black
Mode: Adobe RGB
posted by ChloeMills to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
While I'm not an expert on that printer or anything, your settings don't look too bad to me. Especially using Adobe RGB is probably a good idea, given that it has a fairly wide gamut. Are you asking because you're unhappy with the results you're getting, or are you just curious if you're getting the most out of your printer?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:12 AM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: I am not really happy. The colors don't seem SUPER bright. I was expecting a wider range - from past printers but it doesn't really seem to be.

I use it for very specific colors so its more obvious.
posted by ChloeMills at 11:33 AM on May 4, 2010

Best answer: If you're letting Illustrator determine color, your color profile should be 4880 Premium Matte. What the print settings mean:
Let Illustrator Determine Colors: This means Illustrator will be converting between your document space and the printer space.
Color Profile: This is the profile that describes the color space created by your printer and the selected paper. So in your case you'd want the one for Premium Matte Paper. So AdobeRGB is not correct and generally will not be used here.
Rendering Intent: How the color transform applied. Your document space is generally larger and/or a different shape than the printer's color space. If you visualize laying one shape over another, how do you transform the bigger one to the smaller one? You can either cut off the extra or squish values closer together or mixture of the two methods. Relative Colorimetric is the default and generally the best for photos. For graphics with flat saturated colors you might want to try Saturation.

On the printer for Mode, you want No Color Adjustment. This is because you selected Let Illustrator Determine Colors, which means you want the application to do the color transform not the printer driver. The rest looks good.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:55 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the help. This seemed to help in the brighter pink/orange range - most other things are the same - but It's definitely giving me more colors.
posted by ChloeMills at 12:43 PM on May 4, 2010

A few ideas for brighter colors:

- Set up your Illustrator file as RGB not CMYK
- Take your Illustrator file into Photoshop and crank up the saturation (then print from Photoshop).
- Calibrate your monitor if you haven't already. The natural tendency for most people is to crank up the brightness and contrast on their monitor, but really, you want your monitor to represent a white piece of paper.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:34 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: -I am using the most saturate colors as possible 100% saturation - i have to work from illustrator? Can photoshop shouldn't be able to print the same color any brighter - if I am already at max saturation, correct?
-I am using RGB
posted by ChloeMills at 2:08 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: Also I forgot to ask the best color profile to be using for my "Creative Suite Color Setting" (I have CS4).

Right now I am using North America General Purpose 2.

I would rather not change it if it is not gonna make a huge difference, cause it will cause lots of color matching problems for colleagues and old files- just lots of headaches I don't need.
posted by ChloeMills at 2:12 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: -I am using the most saturate colors as possible 100% saturation - i have to work from illustrator? Can photoshop shouldn't be able to print the same color any brighter - if I am already at max saturation, correct?
-I am using RGB

Ignore the above comments - they make no sense!
I was trying to say...

I start with 100% saturation - to see how bright I can get the colors. So it shouldn't matter weather I am printing in Illustrator or Photoshop or how my monitor is set.

Illustrator and Photoshop, should be printing the same color the same way, correct?
posted by ChloeMills at 2:15 PM on May 4, 2010

The color settings for the suite won't effect this, they define default behaviors for opening and pasting and default color settings for new docs.

Photoshop should print the same as Illustrator with the same settings, there just isn't any easy way to increase saturation for the whole image in Illustrator. Since you're starting with fully saturated colors that suggestion won't help.

You should try setting rendering intent to Saturation, it should give the most saturation possible.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:33 PM on May 4, 2010

color management is a gigantic pain in the ass.

I can't give you specific help...I think it's something you need to learn by doing it, because there are many ways to screw it up.

One thing to know is that depending on your driver, you have to check each step of the process EVERY TIME YOU PRINT. It's extremely annoying but sometimes the default settings will return without you changing them. At least, that happens to me.

The best thing to do is read everything John Paul Caponigro has written about color management. He has a couple of pdfs about simple mistakes that people make that are really helpful.

Mostly, know that you don't know anything about a complicated subject, and then proceed to learn what you need. It's not an easy thing to understand, even though it should be. Printers are better or worse, but their software and drivers are universally terrible.
posted by sully75 at 5:05 PM on May 4, 2010

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