View Full Version : Large Inkjet Printing: I have no idea what I'm doing

20-May-2016, 11:11
I work as a theatrical set builder and I recently was allowed access to the shop plotter that we have to print blueprints. It's a HP Designjet z2100, and I don't really have control over the ink and cleaning of printheads etc. I believe they have a contract with a company that services it a couple times a year.

I want to print 28"x35" (is there a standard size near these dimensions that i should use instead?) and I've done a couple of prints and I've figured out the mechanics of loading a roll of paper.

What I really need is some coaching to figure out how to match the colors I see on my computer screen to the colors on the paper. Nobody has ever shown me a systematic way of doing this so I'm really lost. I don't want to keep making crap prints because I don't want them to revoke my access. Can anybody give me a really basic primer on large printing?

They gave me a roll of HP Everyday Satin paper to try out, and it's alright. I'd like to buy a roll of some nicer paper in the future, but at the price freestyle has paper, I really want to be sure I'm doing this right.

20-May-2016, 11:37
There's no way that can be covered in a thread discussion. Google "inkjet color management" and start reading...

20-May-2016, 11:58
The basics are:

-You need a monitor that is designed for photography/videograph with accurate color.
-You need something to calibrate that monitor, like this: http://spyder.datacolor.com/portfolio-view/spyder5pro/
-You need color profiles for the printer and paper that you're using so that you could soft proof on your now color-corrected monitor and know that what you're seeing is what you'll be getting.

At the very least, that should give you a starting point for googling the information you need. This is a huge and complex topic.

20-May-2016, 12:22
One shortcut way to deal with the problem if you just want to make a couple of prints is start by making small prints, like 5x7. This won't use much paper or ink, and you can fine tune your image until you get the results you want. Then scale up to make the final full size print, which should come out just the same as the small one, just bigger.

20-May-2016, 16:52
thanks, i've googled this topic a lot. there are too many methods and reiterations to really narrow down where to start. I've been thinking about getting a monitor calibrator for a while, but I could never really justify the expense. I guess if I'm going to keep making prints that seals it.

Jim Andrada
21-May-2016, 21:54
Take a look at the ColorMunki. Despite the silly name it's quite good. You can use it to calibrate your monitor and the printer. The application will print out a bunch of color bars and you scan them with the ColorMunki and it will create a profile for the combination of printer and paper. If you're printing from Photoshop you can select the newly created printer/paper profile at print time.

Even after all this it's a common issue that the monitor is too bright unless it's a really high-end unit (NEC or Eizo etc) intended for critical color management and used in an appropriately lighted environment - preferably with the area around the monitor a middle gray, and you may have to play around a bit to get to the final print, but it will get you quite close and save a lot of frustration.

bob carnie
22-May-2016, 08:11
You are located in NY - I will bet that you can find independent colour profile techs that will come in , make sure your monitor is correct, profile paper onsite to your needs.

I use Angus Paddy in Toronto and he is first rate.
Also the vendors of paper and ink should have a vested interest in providing you great profiles for your printer.

I would not start from scratch and mumble your way through this as as one post says the variables will be enormous and really what you need is a great starting point.

We have dead nuts reproduction on first printing, second printing is to adjust the file to create the final print mood.
this is only possible with a profiled workflow and for that I would cut through all the crap and bring in a solid tech who will work with you on a paper to paper fee.


thanks, i've googled this topic a lot. there are too many methods and reiterations to really narrow down where to start. I've been thinking about getting a monitor calibrator for a while, but I could never really justify the expense. I guess if I'm going to keep making prints that seals it.

22-Aug-2016, 23:39
my printer is not working i tried all the thing even mechanic dnt knows that what is the problem, kindly any one share with me that what can i doooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Peter Mounier
23-Aug-2016, 08:41
Do you use a mac? I've found that the Apple monitors are very good and very close to being calibrated right out of the box. That's not to say that you shouldn't get the calibration hardware, but you may be surprised at how close it matches already. Add that to the fact that the Z2100 has a built in spectrophotometer so you can profile any paper you want to use. As it is, the printer has built in profiles for HP's papers, so you won't have to profile the paper. So if you have an Apple monitor you may be ready print without going through all the things previous posters have offered. Here is the user guide for a Z3200 printer. They are very similar to the Z2100 except for the paper sizes that it accepts. Perhaps you can get a good start and then ask more specific questions if you still have any.

Joshua Dunn
27-Aug-2016, 09:13

I am not trying to talk to you like you don’t know anything about printing but just so you understand all of this calibration stuff is trying to reach one goal, to get all of your equipment as close as possible to the International Color Consortium (commonly referred to as ICC) standard. The idea is that if your monitor and printer/paper profile are on the ICC standard you get much more consistent results between what you see on the monitor verses what you end up with in a print. It’s a lot more complex than that but that’s the basic idea.

I have done a lot of large format printing to include extensive color calibration. It does matter what monitor you have and with respect to color management. With respect to Peter, Mac monitors are horrible for color calibration. Unbeknownst to most people that buy them (including myself and I own two) Mac monitors like the Thunderbolt monitor only reproduce about 78% of the Adobe RGB 1998 color spectrum. They look great as a monitor but for more technical color calibration they are horrible.

MAubey presents a great overview but his best advice was “This is a huge and complex topic.” So the real question is what is it financially worth to you to really print well on that printer? If you want to get the most out of it you need a wide gamut monitor (around a $1000), a real color calibration tool (not a Colormunki or Spyder) and a lot of money spent on custom profiles.

How much will you print on it? If you spend a bunch of time and money on profiles they will only work with that paper/printer combination and no other. If you lose access to the printer in a few months and can no longer use those profiles is it worth it?

If you are going to go ahead with trying to profile this printer simply decide is this something you want to dump a lot of money into or are you just trying to get the best out of what you are working with. If this is the case, just calibrate the monitor you have with either the Colormunki or Spyder. This will get you close to the ICC standard. The thing you have working for you is if the HP printer is the one I think it is, the printer can generate a profile for you using it’s internal spectrophotometer. I would use this to make a custom profile for your papers. This would be the least expensive route to getting a large improvement to your prints.

If you want better results than that you will need to invest in some better equipment. This would be a lot of money and I wouldn’t do it unless you own the printer yourself and have complete control over your entire printing process.


Jim Andrada
27-Aug-2016, 11:41

Amen!!!!! I use the ColorMunki because it's reasonably priced and does a reasonable job of getting reasonable consistency from "what I have". Keyword - "REASONABLE" not perfect. At the low volume I print, doing a few proof prints is cheaper than upgrading the equipment. Having said that, an NEC 30" monitor is in my future somewhere, but first I have to clear up my desktop space that already has two Apple 30" monitors and an Asus 21" monitor on it.