On Printing | The Nitty Gritty of Nailing a Black & White Giclée Print
How Does Hatter Editions Get Your Black & White Prints Looking So Rich?
Other than an articulated lorry load of tenacity and technical know-how?
We simply* take extra measures, care and devotion in order for a well rounded, tonally transcendent, black and white print.
Our head technician and your main point of contact at Hatter Editions, Lewis, comes from a darkroom practice; He made it his mission for Hatter Editions to print the best in class Black and White prints that are second to none when printing with a inkjet printer and coloured ink set.
If your thinking of having your black and white work printed with us then you can check out our paper range here- If you nothing tickles your fancy then get in touch here and we can talk about Hatter Editions getting a paper stock in for you... At the end of day your the client and we aim to give an amazing service, so getting a stock in on request for you is the least we can do!
*We said simply. Read on and let us know what you think!
Here is a brief run down of what is covered:
- The Problem- Printing with coloured ink sets and not being able to use colour management
- The Solution- Tonally mapping out the drivers output to different inputs
- A Conclusion- To help sum it all up
- A Brief Look at Hatter Editions Black and White Workflow- The extra step
Lets get going...
The Problem- When Black and White is not as Black and White as it may seem!
Let us start with a few problems, a few hurdles, some that have been plaguing the Black and White inkjet printing world since the transition from analogue to digital printing.
Problem 1- Colour casts due to using a coloured ink set.
The bane of a brilliant black and white inkjet print. You get your file prepared to be a wonderful black, white and many shades of grey print. Only to find that your print comes out a weird cold cyan or sickly warm magenta.
Sometimes in the shadows, sometimes it creeps up in to the mid tones, other times it is in the highlights. Worst case it is across the full range other than your black point and your paper white areas. It can be subtle. It can sometimes be the least subtle thing imaginable. Your print is ruined- Your hard earnt money washed away.
So the printer companies Epson, canon etc. came up with a brilliant idea- They created a driver within their print driver designed for black and white printing. Epson's is called Advanced Black and White (Referred to as ABW for the rest of this article).
Problem 2- Great! We have an ABW driver. But we cannot soft proof or have any control of what goes on- or can we?
The ABW driver is great. It fully utilises the fact that the printer has multiple black inks Black (K, actually two different black inks. One optimised for gloss paper and one for matt), Grey (LK) and Light Grey (LLK) inks and it can use its magic algorithms to create an amazing amount of tones. It gets rid of colour casts by only using the Black inks. It reads your pixels on the image file, and converts, then prints in Gamma 2.2, which is a linear grey colour space
But you cannot soft proof with an ICC profile (find out what an ICC profile is why it is SO important here) as these profiles are based on a RGB colour space, not greyscale colour space like ABW driver uses- When we print using ABW driver, we even ask our printer to take over colour management A big loud NO! any other time. This brings forth a few issues, mainly because the process isn't colour managed.
The Solution- We have nothing but solutions.
So we do not want colour casts, that is certainly something major to avoid. But to avoid this we need to print in an uncontrolled manner- with no colour management (due to... No colours)!
So what do we do and how does Hatter Editions get around this? We simply print out a step wedge for each colour space we may get a file given to us in. This is usually ProPhoto RGB, Adobe RGB, sRGB, Gamma 1.8 and Gamma 2.2.
So we print out 5 different step wedges (If your looking confused then there is a small glossary at the bottom of the page) with each one being converted to one of the above colour spaces, run it through ABW driver and then, by hand, using a spectrometer, measure each patch.
With the information extracted from the patches we then create a custom curve in photoshop, this curve is unique to the paper/ colour space combination, allowing us to compensate for any potential discrepancies during AWB driver process.
Conclusion- To bring it all back down to simmer
In a nutshell, what we are doing is using methodologies found in and brought over from the darkroom and in alternative photographic processes (platinum, palladium, kallitype, cyanotype etc) to control the output. We simply map the tones- by learning how the AWB driver translates pixels, from different colour spaces, in different ways, we can correct your images before they go to press; ensuring absolute fidelity and a wonderful richness!
It is simply pre-press magic at its best; Something we strive for at Hatter Editions!
A brief run down on our Black and White printing workflow
We talk about which paper suits the work best, once we agree on a paper (Check our paper range here) >
You send the file. File lands with us >
We check it over; contact you if there is anything wrong (usually its all good but we like to keep you in the loop and run any changes by you!) >
We are all happy, we apply the custom mapped curve to the file >
We send the file and its data through the ABW driver >
An amazing print comes out the other end with an extraordinary tonal richness and fidelity to it!