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  1. #1
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    Printing and Printers

    Let me apologise in advance if this is in the wrong section:
    I'm sorry if this is in the wrong section.

    Now to the main article!

    Hey guys,

    I'm moving away for college in about a week, and I realised, despite all my meticulous lists and planning, I've overlooked something fairly massive.
    A printer.
    I've done some looking around, and have found a couple of printers that look okay and are within my budget, but the problem is that you don't really know what a printer is like until you actually print from it, you know?
    So I wonder if anyone can recommend any brand or specific make of printer me?
    Some information on what I need it for:
    I'm doing a Games Art course, so I will be printing everything from greyscale thumbnails and roughs and WIPs to many (hopefully) colourful and lively final illustrations.
    The course has a digital hand-in option at the end, but there will be a lot of traditional work, too. I personally find it easiest to observe my work in a sketchbook format, and as such I often print out digital work and stick it into my book alongside sketches and handwritten text and mix it all in together. That way it's easier to piece together a coherent narrative for an entire project VS jigsawing together peices of traditional work in front of me with digital files on a computer. What I'm getting at here, is that the images will be printed on 70-90gsm printer paper, Pritt-sticked into a sketchbook and sometimes scribbled on. The printer doesn't need to be producing massively high-quality prints on any kind of regular basis. But, you know, they are still gonna be colour images mostly, as opposed to word docs.

    It needs to print as close to what I have on my screen as possible. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but so many printers I've used oversaturate colours, bugger up the contrast, lose detail in the blacks, etc... I need something with fairly customisable settings, I think.

    To be honest I don't know much about the topic, so if anyone can explain what I'm looking for, or link me to an article, or just generally give me some advice on how to get decent prints, that'd be equally as helpful. I understand that laser-jets are generally cheaper on ink?

    Thanks a bunch guys.

    EDIT:

    Whoops, I didn't provide a budget, haha.
    I don't really want to go above £100, and to be honest, even that would be absolute maximum price ceiling.
    Please look at my Sketchbook


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  3. #2
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    Buy a cheap office printer for the documents, roughs and less essential color stuff. Find a print shop with professional equipment to print high-quality things. The gap between a 4-color printer, and a 6 to 12-color printer is simply too big, both in terms of quality and price.

    Inkjets have better color fidelity than lasers; lasers also may use toner that could make it difficult for you to draw on top of it. Epson printers generally use the same ink in both office and professional grade printers, in separate cartridges, so you might want to look into those.

    I don't think you can fiddle with a home printer to get better color matching. Use Photoshop adjustment layers or something similar to produce a set of adjustments for your printer. Also, often the color matching issues are not with the printer, but with the monitor. Make a point of calibrating the display you are working on, with a colorimeter. Then use the correct profiles for both display and printer, and develop an appropriate adjustment set using a standard printer testing image.

  4. #3
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    It'd be lovely to have a colourimeter, but unfortunately I don't have another £90-£150 (looking at amazon) to splash on something like that. Perhaps the college will have one they lend out to students, but I don't know. As for my monitor calibration I've looked into that as best I can, and I have it set as close to "true colour" as I can get it without chucking money at it.
    For high quality stuff, the college has the crazy professional printing equipment, but final pieces on my course will be digitally submitted anyway, so I won't need to print glorious, glossy (or matte, for professionalism) big A1 posters or even just high quality A5 photos.
    It's an odd situation where I really only need a printer for that mid-range stuff, for my own presentation preference. Like I say, we CAN upload everything to a blog and hand it in like that, if we want.

    A lot of the printers I can find are covered in bells and whistles like photo printing, "airprint" (whatever that is), app compatibility, wireless printing, touchscreens and a bunch of other smart features.
    I wonder if there's not just a fairly bog-standard printer out there that cuts through most of the bullshit, and just prints some okay images.

    There's a laserjet at my parent's house, and I've been using that for a couple of years, and the issue I've always had is the range of values. Usually the values in my work go from almost black to almost white, but on printing all the extremes are splodged into one colour.

    Could you recommend any decent brands or ranges of regular printer?

    When you say:
    Use Photoshop adjustment layers or something similar to produce a set of adjustments for your printer.
    What sort of thing should I do to prevent that loss of detail at the extreme values? Perhaps there are some tutorials on the site, or external, that you know to be helpful?
    Last edited by SteveZissou; September 20th, 2014 at 07:27 PM.
    Please look at my Sketchbook

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveZissou View Post
    It'd be lovely to have a colourimeter, but unfortunately I don't have another £90-£150 (looking at amazon) to splash on something like that. Perhaps the college will have one they lend out to students, but I don't know. As for my monitor calibration I've looked into that as best I can, and I have it set as close to "true colour" as I can get it without chucking money at it.
    Which is nearly certainly not enough. Look into borrowing a colorimeter. Ask around the college, print shops, etc.

    It's an odd situation where I really only need a printer for that mid-range stuff, for my own presentation preference. I wonder if there's not just a fairly bog-standard printer out there that cuts through most of the bullshit, and just prints some okay images.
    I see. I guess you are looking at something like the mid-range A3 Epson printers, then. Last time I checked the cost was about $1500 and above. Alternately, get a smaller Epson inkjet without bells and whistles. Their ink, at least, is good, and comes in separate cartridges, and you can buy an ink feed system for many of their printers.

    Your value range problem, though, most likely rules out laser printing and most inkjets. Try 4-color inkjets, then if the value range is not good, try 6 and 8 color ones which have gray and light gray inks in addition to black, and possibly light C,M,Y too.

    But what you want is not going to be at the low end of the price range, I am afraid.

  6. #5
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    I found an inkjet printer with 5 colours, the extra one being a grey.
    Canon PIXMA MG5550 for £80.
    I had to go ahead a buy it so it's delivered before I leave.
    I looked at a few models from HP, Canon, Epson, which seem to be the big players in the printer market, and ultimately decided that, actually, a scanner might be useful. Also, it was reviewed as being best in it's price bracket, I think due to the fact that it's not so thirsty on the greyscale printing, although comparably expensive to any other inkjet when it comes to colour.

    Thanks for your advice on this, I certainly will be asking around about a colourimeter lend once I get up to college.

    What I could find about the Epson inks was that they were generally a little cheaper, apart from the "Stylus" range, and most of the Epsons I was looking at were in that line anyway.
    I've been going to the same cartridge-refilling guys for years, and the guy always goes on about Canons being the best. He practically raves about them, actually, so I decided to go for a the MG5550, if only so that I don't have to tell him I bought something that wasn't a Canon, hehe.

    I suppose I'll just have to wait until I really NEED quality pictures to justify getting a decent 6/8 printer.
    Please look at my Sketchbook

  7. #6
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    One very important thing I learned is to always buy paper made by the same company that made the printer. They're optimized to work together, and paper made by different companies won't necessarily work nearly as well.

    If you want recommendations - I have a pretty basic model, Epson Stylus Photo RX680, and it's really decent. The prints aren't super high resolution or anything, but they're quite good. I use Epson Ultra Premium Luster Photo paper with it - it's like 1000% better than any kind of paper I tried before discovering it. Be sure to go in and set up the menus in the printer to optimize it for the type of paper you're using as well as switching from high speed to quality printing. And you want to clean the nozzles (the machine will do it, just put in some cheap paper, press the button and wait), do printer tests and alignment adjustments every so often.

    I'm sure there's a newer model now and the one I have is out of production. Be sure to check reviews if you do decide to look at the newer version.
    "Figure drawing prepares you for painting at a high level" - Jeff Watts

    Sketchbook

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