View Full Version : Glossy vs Matte for prints ??

17-May-2004, 17:44
My epson 7600 is on the way

Thusfar I have printed mostly semi-glossy on my 2200

I realize it is a matter of artistic preference, but I would appreciate your collective wisdom.

Glossy or Matte. Landscapes and still lifes, mostly color, some B&W


John Cook
17-May-2004, 17:56
No doubt that glossy gives you better reproduction: blacker blacks, whiter whites and more brilliant colors. Perfect for submission to a lithographer.

But as wallhangers, matte looks more handmade and artistic. Glossy prints on the wall look to me like a room full of giant plastic credit cards. You might turn your living room into a cross between the London Underground and a travel agency.

17-May-2004, 19:17
>Glossy prints on the wall look to me like a room full of giant plastic credit cards.

Heh, that was funny.

I like glossy for color and matte for B/W. But I have been taking a liking to color on matte--can give a nice pastel coloring to the image.

Ken Lee
17-May-2004, 19:56
Once you place an image behind glass, the difference between matte and glossy decreases considerably.

For what it's worth, I use the Epson matte black ink, and print on matte stock. At the risk of starting a flame war, most people are surprised surprised when I tell them that the prints were were digitally printed. Of course, most people never ask.

If you are using the standard Ultrachrome inks, then you will probably find that the greatest print longevity is attained with matte papers. The last time I researched this issue, that was still the case.

Jim Rice
17-May-2004, 20:04
This is a topic that I'm going to archive. I know that Tim has some papers that he can reccomend avoiding, but i have not seen the question put so succenctly. Gloss, Semi-gloss, or Matt?

Ken Lee
17-May-2004, 20:49
There are many places to research, but I like these guys, and they openly offer free advice. See http://www.inkjetart.com/ (http://www.inkjetart.com" target="_blank)

Bruce Watson
17-May-2004, 21:22
It's up to you to decide. You are the artist, picking your materials is your decisision.

I will say this much. Pigment inks tend to do better on matte papers, regardless of what the manufacturers' sales brouchures imply. Bronzing on glossy papers is just about unavoidable from what I can tell. The only way around it are many coats of lacquer is you are into that kind of thing.

Also, Ken is right, after you put a print under glass, it's pretty difficult to see the difference between a matte and a glossy surface.

Jorge Gasteazoro
17-May-2004, 21:52
I just came back from some portfolio reviews and the vendors who were advertising printing services had their piezo ink jet prints under glass. The prints were made on water color paper and once they were framed it was hard to tell the difference between a matt print and a glossy print.

Of course, once the glass was off (the display fell off), it was easy to tell, but the prints were still beautiful.

Leonard Metcalf
18-May-2004, 06:29
I have just been trialling different papers on my epson 7600 (it has only been here a couple of weeks)

For sharpness you can't go past the pictorico 'Photo gallery high gloss white film' made from plastic and ceramic. But as ponted out it does look like framed plastic... people love the prints unframed. There must be something about the gloss in this plastic day and age. and for the first time I can easily see the differences in the different print settings (770 dpi vers 1440 dpi)

I have also been getting great results from Mitsubishi saturn photo paper... and very good value, they make some of the epson papers I am told..


I have decided to go with a 100% cotton rag paper... that produces beautiful prints... unframed they are stunning... and subtle (I like and prefer subtle)... framed to the casual eye they just look the same... I choose this to accentuate the fact that they aren't traditional photographs, that they last a long time (the longest in the archival rating tests), and have there own unique look... besides being a traditional printmaker (lithography & etching) and a watercolourist, I couldn't go past traditional rag papers...

As to the final results I still haven't had the printer / paper combination calibrated, but the epson driver for smooth art papers works very well for me...

Everyone who has seen one loves them... "that is the most beautiful inkjet print I have ever seen!" from a respected pladium printer friend...

Oh it is worth working out the prices for the paper.. it does add up...

and subject matter does seem to make a difference... it really is a personal choice...

Just my two cents worth.... (oh Gotta love that printer... enjoy...)

Ken Lee
18-May-2004, 06:51
Leonard - Which paper are you using ? I'm wanting to try something in 100% rag.

Ken Lee
18-May-2004, 06:56
Another important factor is profiling.

It's thoroughly unreasonable to compare matte versus glossy - or even 2 different varieties of glossy stock - unless you have very good profiles for each paper/ink combination.

Unfortunately, it costs money to profile every paper/ink combintation on your unique printer. Either you have an expert do it, or you purchase the equipment and become an expert yourself. Oh well...

Peter Langham
18-May-2004, 09:53
I am using greyscale pigmented inks. I recently compared semi-gloss with cotton rag. My expectation was that I would prefer the semi-gloss. After spraying the semi-gloss, bronzing was non existent. The semi-gloss had a deeper black and therefore greater dynamic range. To my surprise, however, there was a 3 demensional quality to the cotton print that the semi-gloss couldn't match. You could somehow get deeper into the picture than on the semi-gloss. Hope this doesn't sound like to much "hocus-pocus" stuff, but you could really see the difference. My wife and kids could all see it and picked the matte paper as their preference. With all this said, I would recommend trying several options, and expect that different pictures will be better on different papers.


tim atherton
18-May-2004, 11:02
So many variables and options (and I don't have a 7600 to play with anymore - just the 2200 right now).

It depends in part what you want (and of course, there is not reason why you can't mix and match depending on the end use).

First, glossy/semi glossy. This still looks good if you are handing them off to people - say sending out promos, or samples. Especially colour (but also b&w to some extent - but I'm sure you know all about the B&W probs with Epson - especially on glossy...).

Most of the glossy/semi-gloss papers have the same feels as Kodak RC colour papers - glossy/lustre E etc. I don't want to get into how effective the longevity testing is - lets just say we are comparing apples with apples and talk about comparative longevity between inkjet papers. For look, feel and how the print up, the Ilford Smooth papers are very very nice - glossy, pearl and a new ultra glossy - rather like an Ilfochrome surface/look. Little or no bronzing, really nice colours, comparatively tough surface. But, because of the way they accept the ink, they may well be not as long lasting as the Epson papers. But good for a few years at least (all other things being equal - i.e. don't leave them in the back window of the car...). For best colour, look and feel in a glossy where immediate impact rather than longevity is the issue, these are my favourites.

Of the Epson papers, the Pro Glossy and Semi-matte/Semi-Gloss are also nice. They do tend to bronze more and also show the surface differential between high and low ink load areas somewhat.

There are also lots and lots of third party glossy papers - the Pictorico mentioned is nice. But they still tend to fall into one of the two camps - nice and glossy, but show bronzing and differential surface, or they are microcermaic surfaces like the Ilford (who may make half the third party papers anyway...)

Either way, under glass - the surface problems don't really show - it's much more if they are going to be handled. (and see profiles below. Imageprint also deals with it pretty well)

(the is also Epson Pro Glossy (13x19 sheets) aka Epson Glossy Photo Weight (rolls) - this is a slightly odd paper designed as a proofing paper for pigment inks - it has a very creamy coloured backing and very slightly warm white printing surface. What's great is it has what Epson calls a "smooth gloss" surface - rather like the original Epson Photo Paper for the dye printers - but it s a bit heavier and it doesn't yellow like that paper does. The surface is similar to a sort of air dried FB paper - and it prints very very nicely with little or no bronzing. Bad news is Epson has apparently discontinued it in the US.....)

Now for matte surfaces/watercolour type papers.

The Epson EHM is still a good basic paper for anything that isn't "important" and all you need is the image, rather than the feel of the paper.

I'm not too keen on many of the Epson "watercolour" type papers - except maybe the Somerset velvet for Epson and the Epson Ultrasmooth (also see below).

My favourite watercolour/cotton rag papers - especially for B&W but also for colour are Hahnemühle Photo Rag, Arches Infinity and Premier Imaging Fine Art Hot Pressed/Epson Ultrasmooth (and possible Somerset velvet enhanced - but many don't like it).

The Photo Rag has become a classic. It's very very nice - especially for B&W but also for colour (really needs a profile for printing through). It does have OBA's to make it brighter white - which can lead over time to very slight warming/yellowing. Arches infinity is great - no OBA's (but still not too warm) nice DMax but expensive as heck - luscious though (and arches provides profiles for the 7600 - as do many manufacturers) if I had my druthers - and the money - I'd use this more...

Premier Imaging Fine Art Hot Pressed is probably about 98% the same paper as Epson Ultrasmooth - no OBA's, nice DMax - also very nice colour. Very nice "feel" and probably very long lasting - comes in four weights, some double sided. The Epson or Atkinson Ultrasmooth profiles seem to work well with this paper. I happen to really like it. It is a bit warmer than the others - a sort of natural off white (but unlikely to fade beyond that, whereas those with OBA's may end up this colour after a few years...) - but unless you put it side by side with a bright white RC paper it's not that noticeable. Both the FAHP and the Arches print very crisply - more so than Photo Rag

Also Hahnemühle is coming out soon with two new papers - a Photo Rag without OBA's and also a sort of Photo Rag Velvet - both of which may turn out to be very nice.

As I say, I find these papers do work very well with colour as well as B&W.

Even with the 7600 you may face problems with a neutral B&W print though (good profiles can help somewhat) - but unless you pay an arm and a leg for Imageprint (which, despite price, I am finding really does work very well), it is still an issue.

Colour wise - the 7600/9600 printers are built to a higher tolerance than the 2200 and so canned profiles seem to do better across different printers. The Epson ones seem okay., Most people find Bill Atkinson's free profiles to be excellent and if their papers fit in what he has profiled (generally epson papers) - then I know many who don't see the need for their own expensive profiling software. And as I said, many of the manufacturers produce their own profiles as well - some better than others.