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Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Printing Pt.2

Category: Photoshop, Review, Tools, Video
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Nov 24

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Printing Your Image

Most people will find that in their early stages of printing, whether at home or outsourced, that their images don’t look anything like what they want. This is mainly due to the fact that the screen they edit their images on EMITS Light, and the paper it gets printed on ABSORBS and REFLECTS light. In today’s video we go over some great tips and tricks to help you avoid this problem, and save you time and money.

3 Part Series – Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Printing

  • Part 1 – Cropping and Resizing
  • Part 2 (This Episode) – Amazing Tips to Check Color & Brightness
  • Part 3 – Why printing at home is never cheaper, and where to have your prints made.

What You Will Learn

  • 0:30 – Intro to Part 2, how color and light effect your print
  • 0:40 – Why a screen and paper are so different
  • 1:30 – How screen brightness can influence your image
  • 1:50 – Amount of light where image will be posted
  • 3:00 – Making our test page
  • 4:00 – How a little planning can save you time & money
  • 4:30 – Duplicating your image
  • 5:30 – How to use clipping masks to future proof your adjustments
  • 7:00 – Choosing your image and applying it to final
  • 7:40 – SRGB vs AdobeRGB1998
  • 8:00 – How clipping masks are better than normal adjustments
  • 8:40 – Common problems and questions

I Don’t Have Time For That!

Totally cool. If you are printing an entire wedding album, or are in a rush, the best thing you can do is to brighten your image about 10% using curves.

What are your experiences?

Has anyone used screen calibrators? If you have, how was the experience, would you recommend using one? What are the common problems you run into with printing?

  • Pingback: Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Printing Pt.1

  • Irismjoll

    I have used a calibrator and it made a big difference. My screen showed the pictures colder than they really very.

  • Oscar Wall

    My biggest fear is colour and light. I’ve printed alot on regular “photo paper” and they never look as good. This will really help out! But I want to print on a canvas, and they are a bit too expensive for me to test print on. Do anyone know if there’s a cheaper material to test print on which will look quite similar on a canvas? 

  • Anonymous

    Argh!  I wish I had watched this episode BEFORE I placed my order this morning!!   I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot darker than I want.

    Very helpful episode!

  • Anonymous

    The Spider3Elite is on sale a today for $179.95!

  • Joacim Roboman Schwartz

    I have used calibrators several times, and had varied results depending on what brand and model.

    At first I used a Huey Pro, which is ok för amatuers, but they are so unstable that you never going to get an accurate result. Since my school offers the ability to borrow some equipment, I decided to try out the X-rite i1 Display Pro, and it has given alot better result. Sure, the cost of the unit is alot more, but the quality comes with it.

    There are two types of calibrators, Spectrophotometer and Colorimeter (spyder pro and such), and the first mentioned is the the best of the two.The Eye-one Pro, which cost a heck alot, also gives you the ability to make a profile of your printer.You print a testchart and just drag the same calibrator that you used on your screen, and measures the color. Really handy and worth it if you have a printer at home.Worth to note, even if you calibrate, profiling or whatever you wanna call it, a laptop screen is NEVER going to be accurate. There is such a small colorspace. You can get it close, but never to the point as a external monitor.

  • joew

    This is certainly a good way to make sure your images will look good on paper but there’s one problem: It only works for one specific printing-service…I guess there is a point where you have to buy a professional display that is fully calibratable and therefore able to display cmyk-colorspaces correctly.

    Very helpful though!

  • PaperDoll

    Don’t know about what material to test print on but I recently had some canvas prints done and they turned out really dark because the canvas absorbs a lot of the colour, so make sure that they are 1.) sharp 2.) more colourful and 3.) bright! These settings may look over the top on screen but otherwise you will end up with a very flat print.

  • -cr

    Imo screen calibration is a must with any wide gamut display … unless you either want to see everybody sunburnt on your monitor (or too pale everywhere else), or prefer neon gras, etc. :-) Also, if your prints from a color calibrated print service don’t look like they do when viewed as a soft proof on your computer (with the correct printer profile enabled), I’d recommend screen calibration.

    Yes, I’ve used screen calibration, even on my netbook, using a Spyder2 Express (the newer Spyder3 is much better, btw). And yes, it has been very helpful. My prints from a good (!) print service now look pretty much like my soft proofs. (My cheap quick prints from the local drugstore look different every time, and never as on my monitor.)

    With some monitors, color calibration is not as important as with others, because they already give you close to the “right” colors out of the box. And some monitors you’ll never get “right”, even with calibration.

    For anyone considering a Spyder colorimeter: You might want to consider getting the cheapest version, as the difference is only in the software, and there’s great freeware you can use (instead of the original “crippled” software you’d get with Spyder’s Express version).

  • James Warwood

    Whats everyones preference on paper finish? Matte or gloss? I personally always order prints that have a matte finish. Tried a few on gloss but the shine was just way too distracting and quite frankly horrible! The reduction in shine in a matte finish print is always a winner for me.

    Never used a screen calibrator though have thought about trying it out.

  • Eric Burgers

    I have the spider 3. It is sold as Elite, Pro or Express. The hardware is the same, only the software differs. Screen calibaration really matters, especially if you tweak your images on screen. There is no point in changing the colour, contrast or whatnot if you can’t rely on the colour representation on screen, does it?


  • James Brown

    I have the Spyder 3 Elite, and use it on a regular basis for my monitors. However, there is no way to rely solely on just calibration hardware/software. The best practice is to keep your workstation consistent. Calibrate your monitors on a regular basis, use the same lighting conditions, allow your monitors to warm up a bit. Then color manage your workflow. Once you have repeatability within your system, you can get test prints to compare to your monitor, and more importantly to the LAB values in photoshop. 

    I suggest setting up your info panel to read the current workspace on the left side, and LAB values on the right side. Learn how LAB works and you get complete accuracy reading these values while visually comparing them to your test prints. Then you can make your adjustments and be confident that the print will come back the way you want.

    You can also utilize soft proofing as many of the online print labs will let you download a custom profile for the paper (or whatever material) you are printing on. This method is not entirely useful at first. But you sort of begin to get an eye for it. It is still much better to have a test print to compare with.

    The test print is crucial really. Almost every printer is going to render things slightly different anyway. So you really need to be able to see with your own eyes what it will look like on that material, from that printer. Then you can use some of the above stated techniques to dial things in.

  • Oscar Wall

    Thank you very much! 

  • Pingback: Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Printing Pt.3

  • Joacim Roboman Schwartz

    My personal experience and advice goes to semi-gloss, the good from both worlds!

  • Sebastian Ortiz

    Very Good info… very true about the light emitting screens, which is why I do all my work at half the brightness… 

  • Robert Lewandowski

    For calibrating your iMac/Macbook (basically a glossy display) the experts recomended me the X-Rite ColorMunki (  or the Display Pro (, this one is faster, and gives more manual control.
    It seems to handle the glare better.

  • Robert Lewandowski

    Question about the sRGB/RGB conversion: RGB gives you more colors, sure. But why work first in RGB if you are going to convert in to sRGB? It always messes my images up after I convert them ;(

  • Jay

    I use the spyder II calibration system and it’s great.  I hate leaving the color correction in the hands of the printer.  They assume what type of tone you want and make adjustments that they feel are “natural”.  That’s okay if you want it exactly how it was captured in regular light.  It’s just the better way to go I think.  I have one monitor calibrated to web and one to print so I can just drag the photo across to see it before I print it.  The difference is mainly brightness.  I’m assuming a certain level of brightness on the web monitors (although it varies)

  • Adriana

    Aaron, do you find that most companies want you to use sRGB anyways?  I’m always nervous if I use a better color profile that the printers will degrade it.  I’m using Nations Photo Lab and Adorama now.  I really want to try Bay Photo and Simply Color lab (they have a vivid color that brings out that bright lit monitor look).  I’ve heard good things.  I think you motivated me now.  Thanks as always!

  • Jxphotography

    Hey Aaron

    I use the spyder elite and it has made all my prints look amazing.. What I see on my screen is exactly what prints ( or pretty darn close). I was using a similar technique that you taught here before hand and it also worked great. One more thing is the Spyder can also calibrate your printer to your screen so the transition from screen to paper is seemless.. You rock man !!! see you on twitter

    Josh C

  • Ronen segers

    Hey Aaron,

    Using a calibrator is very good when making product images because the client wants to see it’s product in the exact same color as it shoold be in real life and the calibrator makes this procces much easier.

    Your technique is good for testing your prints but be aware when you need to print something large and you test it small it will seem much darker then you would print it in the final size, therefore it’s better to test it with a part of the picture that is already in the final size. Just use the most important part or parts of the image to check it, the rest of the image will have the same results.

    Ronen Segers

  • Andrea Peipe

    Totally awesome dude!

    I recently had some really cool photos printed and they were much brighter on my screen than when I got them as prints and I was pretty annoyed (and also confused as to why that is)!

    I love the idea of putting the same photo on a page several times and changing levels with each photo! But what if I print it on my HP printer and the quality sucks but not because of the photo but instead of the printer? 
    My biggest problem is that the photos turn out darker sometimes when printed. Not always but sometimes! I have never used a screen calibrator so no help there… 

  • O117913

    The link to part 3 is actually to part 2!

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