Printer Paper Pointers

Posted on August 20, 2013 by Ann Kullberg | 16 Comments

As dry media artists, we all know how important our choice of paper surface is - toothier papers will grab more color, but really eat up your pencils.  Smoother papers tend to make a very even coverage harder to achieve, since every little stroke shows up.

But did you also know about the huge, huge difference printer paper makes when printing out a reference photo or one of our Digital Download Kits?

When you print an image onto regular printer paper, what you'll get is a very washed out image that generally doesn't have color that is true.  Values are off and and contrast and depth are reduced.

Matte Photo Paper

We print our Project Kits on Office Depot Brand Presentation Paper, Matte, 32 lb.  Before printing, we make sure we change our printer settings, changing the paper source to "Photo Matte".  Even if you have great paper, if you don't let the printer know you're using a specialty paper, it still won't print appreciably better than on plain paper.

The weight of this kind of paper allows for intensive color saturation, so the values are great, and you also get details that are completely lost when printed on plain paper. We prefer Matte, but a Glossy presentation paper would also be great for printing reference photos.

Major Differences!

Below is a great example of the difference in printing paper.  On the right, I've printed out on plain printer paper a jpg of my granddaughter, Evey, enjoying some corn on the cob. On the left I printed the exact same jpg on matte presentation paper.  Notice how much information you lose when you print on plain paper?  Seems the difference is almost of a "make or break" magnitude.

Which one would you rather have as a reference photo??

Yep...me, too!  ;-)


Do you have a favorite printer paper for reference photos?

Posted in printing tips


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16 Responses

Dawn
Dawn

August 21, 2013

Wow! Well maybe this is answering a longstanding problem I have had! It seems that my pictures look beautiful on the computer screen, nice and clear with wonderful color. Then sometimes I will print them out and they look all faded, like really washed out and I cannot use them. No matter how many times I print them, they are horrible. I never thought of printing them out on a photo paper, but I guess that makes sense. Sometimes I have wanted to get rid of my printer! However, maybe the problem is the paper. Thanks for the info. I will try it!

john
john

August 21, 2013

Do you think the software that does the printing matter very much?
In a program like Photoshop, not only can the software alter the picture (brightness, contrast, color), but in the printer properties you also have a wide choice between using the printers color space to determine how the print comes out or let the software determine how the picture is printed.
There are quite a few choices to make, could you write an article on how software influences the output quality, and which parameters to choose to get the best prints?

Ann Kullberg
Ann Kullberg

August 21, 2013

Great, helpful tips from so many of you! Thanks for commenting!

Phyllis…I don’t print my own final prints, so I’m of no help there. Anyone else have an answer for Phyllis?

Sue Brooks
Sue Brooks

August 21, 2013

Great tip Ann!

Ann Kullberg
Ann Kullberg

August 20, 2013

Awwww….Leslie…you made my daughter’s and my night! Thanks for such a sweet comment.

We think she’s pretty adorable, too, of course! :-)

Leslie Wiener
Leslie Wiener

August 20, 2013

Forget the paper. Where can I get a similar baby granddaughter? Adorable!

Suzanne Baugh
Suzanne Baugh

August 20, 2013

Thank you Ann for the information .It is very helpful .:)

Phyllis Henson
Phyllis Henson

August 20, 2013

Which printer do you recommend for final prints?

Helen Bailey
Helen Bailey

August 20, 2013

Thanks for the great tips, folks! I’ve had mine professionally printed on an adhesive paper that is then bonded to foamcore so I can take it anywhere without the picture curling around the edges. It stays in great shape when I have to work outside.

Cheryl Metzger
Cheryl Metzger

August 20, 2013

For Betty – I actually download my photos to my computer. From there I can print and email it to myself. I pick the email up on the IPad and save the picture. That keeps my IPad from being cluttered with pictures I don’t want. I have a folder called reference photos and they all go in there. Hope that helps.

Linda Phillabaum
Linda Phillabaum

August 20, 2013

I too prefer matte presentation paper. I have found too that when I use the brand of paper that is the same brand as the printer, well, it makes a huge difference. I have an Epson all-in-one that I never considered using to print reference photos until I mistakenly bought Epson presentation paper. I thought I’d give it a try because I was too lazy to take it back to the store. Lo and behold, the Epson produced a great photo reference! Due to the high cost of ink cartridges, I do, however, send my reference photo via email to Office depot and they print it up on matte paper while I’m on my way to pick it up (I usually do several at a time so it’s only one trip to the store). But it’s nice to know, on a snowy day, I can print my own if I want to.

Betty Theis
Betty Theis

August 20, 2013

What a great idea Ann. Thank you! Also I would like to know from Cheryl, do yo download the picture from the iPad to the computer, then print from there?

Barbara Baker
Barbara Baker

August 20, 2013

I also started using my iPad recently. It is a great reference because I can zoom in or elevate it. It has one disadvantage because the screen can be reflective. I still print out reference photos sometimes. I like to use a good quality matte photo paper. When I want sharpness and clear colors I print on glassy photo paper.

Paulette Moudakis
Paulette Moudakis

August 20, 2013

I’ve been using Kirkland (Costco brand) Professional Glossy Photo Paper for a few years now – and an Epson Photo printer (actually, I have two Epsons) – The quality of their paper is great – like it much better than Epson’s or Kodak’s photo papers. I’ve tried the Office Depot versions, but felt the results were not nearly as good.

Carol Ballarad
Carol Ballarad

August 20, 2013

Thanks for this enlightening and helpful information. What a difference it makes!

Cheryl Metzger
Cheryl Metzger

August 20, 2013

I actually use my IPad for my reference photos now. I can zoom in on small areas and the color is wonderful. It’s easy to transport and I never forget where my pictures are! If I do decide to print my photo, though, I use matte photo paper. I like to have it the same size as I’m working on.

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