Why are your printer profiles so good?
As artists, we have been writing increasingly eloquent and accurate printer look-up-tables since the early 1990s. We never cut corners and are only interested in creating incredibly accurate and remarkably beautiful printer profiles – a task that is surprisingly difficult to accomplish. These difficulties are due to many often contradictory factors, including poorly designed measuring equipment and compromised light sources, as well as complications arising from different surface characteristics and the influence of optical brighteners and shading agents in the paper’s manufacturing, and many other factors that can compromise the quality, accuracy and consistency of the measurement data. There are also the all too common operator errors and misconceptions, and numerous environmental, physiological, philosophical and psychological factors that influence our perception and judgement of a print. This is why we take such extraordinary care in obtaining the most precise and perfected data sets from your test charts. We work with both specular-included and specular-excluded measurements, and creatively combine (not just weighted averages) and smooth the multiple data sets while verifying and checking for data errors and inconsistencies. Once we are happy that we have the finest dataset possible, we calculate and edit your profiles to the same exacting standard, including our custom perceptual tables which we believe provide superior gamut mapping, colourfulness and linearity. This all ensures that the same image when printed with your different profiles on their respective papers will appear remarkably consistent. Each of your profiles are then rendered out in several Profile Variants each individually stylised for specific printing and aesthetic outcomes. For example, we are especially proud of the visual correlation between matte surfaced and gloss surfaced prints made with our custom BPWC Profile Variants. Finally we undertake extensive visual and colorimetric testing of each profile to ensure its average accuracy has a DeltaE2000 < 1.0 (which is our visual threshold). If required we can also provide our detailed twenty page report on each profile. We therefore have ensured not only remarkable consistency between your different profile renderings, but also the deepest Dmax, most accurate shadow and highlight separations, and maximum gamut volume have been obtained with the smoothest and most eloquent renderings that printer, ink and media are capable of. If required additional Profile Variants can be calculated (at no extra cost) that address specialist printing or aesthetic requirements, such as privileging Lightness or Chroma compression, expanding shadow ‘presence’ and/or overall ‘dimensionality’, custom white and black points, A2B soft proofing tables, and many other custom enhancements. For more detailed insights please see our Why Les Walkling & Co Custom Printer Profiles? paper and our Profile Variants paper that are always available on our Theory of Practice website.
Can I softproof with your printer profiles?
Yes you can, however really accurate soft proofing is terribly compromised in applications like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom (because so many critical factors are not taken into account). The most accurate and consistent soft proofing is hardware based around a wide gamut graphics monitor whose red, green and blue chromaticity. contrast and luminance has been manually customised to precisely match that of the print. In other words, really accurate soft proofing is not as easy as it is often made out to be. But with the right equipment and expertise the results can be surprisingly accurate and helpful. But even the finest soft proofing can only represent those qualities of a print that can be ‘soft proofed’. Therefore we still need to render an image as a print in order to determine those characteristics that can’t be displayed on a screen, such as the effects of scale, lighting and viewing conditions and environments. For more information on this topic please consult our Soft Proofing Theory and Soft Proofing Practice papers, and our Advanced Soft Proofing Monitor Calibration Video that are always available on our Theory of Practice website..
Can I buy your printer profiles?
We only create incredibly accurate and stunningly beautiful custom printer profiles for your printer, ink and paper combinations. Generic profiles can be downloaded for no cost from most paper manufacturer’s websites.
Do I need more than one printer profile?
Ideally a separate custom profile is used for each paper/printer/ink/printer settings combination you are working with. In practice you can sometimes ‘work’ with a single profile for similar papers, such as Ilford Smooth Pearl paper and Ilford Smooth Gloss paper as they are essentially the same paper with slightly different surface characteristics. We can also individually calibrate and average the response of several printers so that a single media profile can be used with all the printers in a high volume production workflow. But to work without compromise or shortcomings and to ensure your printing is as accurate, efficient and productive as possible requires custom profiles that perfectly characterise how each unique printer, inkset, paper and printer settings combine in a finished print.
I want you to profile my printer – what do I need to do?
Initially contact us and let us know what paper, printer and operating system you are using – we have different instructions and test charts for different printers, papers and operating systems. We’ll then email the appropriate test charts and instructions specific to your printing workflow, along with detailed printing instructions, and recommendations for the packaging and sending of printed test charts to us for measuring and profile creation. We are usually able to create your profiles within 24 hours of receiving correctly printed test charts. Once completed we email a download link to access your finished profiles with custom instructions for their installation and use, along with your tax invoice and payment options.
What are the advantages of illuminant specific ICC camera profiles?
In exacting reprographic work, whether capturing fashion items in a studio or photographing works of art in a museum, the precise characterisation of the lighting and the camera and lens’s response aims to minimise post production time and effort, thereby increasing productivity and perfecting image quality while also complying with relevant ISO Standards. The other advantage of ICC camera profiles is that they can include precise spectral measurements of ‘problem’ colours – that is colours in a fabric or a painting or whatever that don’t reproduce accurately enough with a standard profile, thereby ensuring the highest colour fidelity and most efficient reprographic workflow currently possible.
Do you charge extra for test strips?
Yes – any test strips required for the image to be perfectly resolved before its final printing are only charged at the cost of the materials used.
How do I calculate the cost of a print?
The cost of the print is charged according to the width of the paper multiplied by its length. For example, a metre square print will fit on a 1118 mm (44 inch) roll, therefore the cost is for one metre of that paper. These costs include ink, printer setup and printing time, as well as the archival barrier paper, mylar, glassine and biodegradable bubble wrap required for the careful wrapping and protective packaging of the print. The cost of cardboard storage or PVC shipping tubes, or flat packing, and any freight or delivery costs are separate charges.
How do I know if my print requires additional preparation and editing?
Only you can determine this according to how your print appears on screen relative to how it translates in the test strips. However we don’t charge for minor and often necessary print edits prior to printing a test strip, such as verifying/setting the image’s white and black points, or the paper’s custom dot gain, or matching shadow detail to its screen image. However if you want us to collaborate with you on the perfecting of your files prior to their final printing, for example to maximise your print’s ‘presence and luminosity’ then we charge our consulting fee of $200/hr + GST for that additional work (charged in quarter hour increments with no additional costs for test strips or other materials used).
Are there any additional print costs?
No – the print cost covers the cost of all materials, including the production of test strips, plus our labour and file download/upload times and printing time.
CONSULTATIONS & TRAINING:
Why would I need to work with you in the preparation of my print?
The reality is that artists who print with us want to work collaboratively with us, and not just to make incredibly eloquent and beautiful exhibition prints, but to also better realise and resolve their own artistic vision. In this sense we are not a print-on-demand facility nor a commercial lab, but form a collaborative and creative partnership with other artists that contributes our sensitivity, experience, knowledge, reputation, and expertise to their work. Of course this approach is not for everyone, but the fellow artists we regularly work with value our collaboration as an integral component of their artistic practice. We are also usually credited in wall labels and/or artist and gallery publications for our contribution to the finished work of art.
How should I prepare for a consultation?
The most important factor is to ensure we are fully informed about what needs to be covered and achieved. When fully briefed we can be fully prepared, and thereby maximise your outcomes. This should also include any uncertainties and trepidations, along with your broader expectations and ambitions. In particular we need to understand your specific aims (desires) and objectives (outcomes) and how you will measure their successful resolution.
I’m not sure if I will be able to remember everything covered?
All our virtual consultations can be recorded, and are also backed up with relevant notes and videos or written instructions. For example, if the consultation is focused on aspects of a colour managed workflow, then you will also receive our relevant Reproduction of Colour course notes. Such precise and inclusive documentation extends the consolidation and refinement of what we covered in the consultation, and thereby also supports your ongoing practice.
Can you visit our studio?
Unfortunately not at this time during the COVID-19 pandemic. But since transitioning all our consultations and teaching online we have not found a single topic that we haven’t been able to address at least as efficiently and effectively, and have developed many new insights and procedures as a result. And not having to travel ensures significant cost and time savings for all of us, plus our consultations can now be in any Time Zone and scheduled at anytime of the day or night that suits you. We use Zoom video conferencing software from our multi-camera studio, and Team Viewer QS software when we need to remotely work together on your computer, and with commercial licenses so there are no restrictions. When needed we also have contactless courier drop-off and collection areas as well as a high speed NBN connection for electronic uploads/downloads, while Zoom and/or FaceTime cameras allow us to physically inspect your studio/working environment as needed.