Print and be damned
December 1, 2010 10:25 PM   Subscribe

How can I print a graphic nicely from Windows 7?

I'm trying to print a graphic but Widnows won't let me get a good color density, nor let me control the size of the print. I've looked at the control panel's printer settings but found nothing that lets me change color density nor print size.

Size: Windows only gives me the option of full page, or two half-page prints or four quarter-page, etc. I'd like to print the thing once, about postcard size, on a regular 8x10 sheet (preferably in about the center of the sheet, but anywhere would be fine.)

Color: printing the test page from the "Devices and Printers" control panel produces nice deep colors, so the printer is capable of doing that, but the graphic is printed in faint washed-out style (quite pretty, but not what's needed.) The graphic is strongly colored on the screen, so I don't think the problem is in the source jpg. Photos are being printed with the same washed-out look, too. I'm printing on plain paper, and realize that will have less-dense color than glossy photo paper would, but given that the test page is good on plain paper, I think a print of the graphic would be fine too if only it wasn't faint.

In Printing Preferences (for the MP210) the print quality is set at High, the Color/Intensity is set to Manual with Intensity set to the max (50, default is 0), but the printout shows no visible difference with those settings from the default settings. Am I overlooking something?

What I have:
the graphic is a jpg file (not produced by me);
a Canon MP210 printer with new-from-the-shop-today Canon cartridges (they print the test page very nicely);
attached via USB to a Thinkpad 61 running Windows 7 Ultimate;
Paint.NET program.

Maybe better/special tools are needed? If so, free or low-cost would be good; I can't go and buy Photoshop, nor a Mac, but any other suggestions will be gratefully welcomed.
posted by anadem to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Best answer: I don't know about your color problem, but GIMP is a free graphics editor, akin to Photoshop, that will allow you to control image size.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:03 PM on December 1, 2010

Best answer: I'm in XP, but I regularly use the "Photo Printing Wizard" portion of Windows and at one point I realized that on my system, at one step it always defaults to an option "Full Page fax print" and that was why all of my stuff came out looking like crap... choosing "Full Page photo print" instead solved most of my quality problems. (Though I realize that you don't want it to be full page.)

As far as free tools that might help, Scribus is an open source desktop publishing app that provides sophisticated pre-press control options... but I'm having trouble figuring out whether the MP210 supports PostScript, so I'm not sure if those settings would affect the output.
posted by XMLicious at 12:23 AM on December 2, 2010

Best answer: It might be overkill, but you can download a fully-functional 30-day demo of Photoshop which will give you tons of resizing and printing options.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:03 AM on December 2, 2010

Best answer: Even Paint lets you set the print and paper size. You don't need any special software for that. The rest is handled by your printer drivers. Are there any other settings you can change? Also, what's the pixel dimension of the image?
posted by turkeyphant at 1:32 AM on December 2, 2010

Best answer: Try Picasa.
posted by flabdablet at 4:37 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

And if the graphic isn't commercially sensitive, upload a copy to Picasa Web Albums and link to it here; there may be something weird in its metadata.
posted by flabdablet at 4:38 AM on December 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all! It's odd, Windows7 native "print" function and Paint.NET both give a miserable output, but Scribus, Picasa and good old Paint (why hadn't I tried that) all print just fine. Gimp (and Photoshop) would probably be good too though I haven't tried them. It doesn't depend on what image I'm printing - any image prints well or badly depending on the program printing it. So I'm marking lots of best answers.
posted by anadem at 7:43 AM on December 2, 2010

Best answer: In that case, I suspect that the .NET framework is probably trying to do something "clever" and "helpful" with color profiles or color space conversion (RGB to CMYK) that the MP210 driver completely fails to understand. I also believe it to be the case that Windows 7 doesn't actually have a "native" print function; it will hand printing off to whatever app is registered as being in charge of printing images, which in your case seems likely to be Paint.NET. Windows XP was the same, except that it came with a little printing app (the Image Printing Wizard) that did so little that it seemed to be part of Windows Explorer.

If you strike the same issue in other .NET apps, have a poke around in the print options and see if you can find somewhere you're given a choice of RGB or CMYK color spaces for printing; if print color quality sucks, try flipping that setting.
posted by flabdablet at 4:00 PM on December 2, 2010

Response by poster: thanks flabdablet, that sounds likely and one day I'll check it out. I didn't notice a choice for RGB vs CMYK (but wasn't looking.) The offending machine and printer are not together now, so it will have to wait until they are.
posted by anadem at 12:25 PM on January 1, 2011

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