Friday, May 20, 2011

wysiwyg is not my fault

You just bought a new printer it works great, the bells ring and the whistles whistle. You grab your second print (first was a text page, no problem), a color photo or drawing, walk past your monitor and do a double take, what, no WYSIWYG?!? You put the print up next to the screen and shift it so that the light hits it differently. If you hadn't looked, you'd wouldn't have noticed it prints a little darker, certain colors are off and the paper you used could have been better. Aren't PCs and printers and cameras and such supposed to be pre-set, instant or fuss-free? It's not my fault!

It's D's fault or rather default settings on everything. Default is good for average normal quick no-hassle no-brainier stuff. As soon as you want to do special stuff on a regular basis, you got to tweak and adjust and fiddle, swap materials and hold your mouth at a certain angle. No, it's not all luck and magic. You need some education, some carnal knowledge of the workings of your equipment to get the best results out of them. “I'm educated, I can figure this out!” You are educated enough to read the manual so that info you missed will be discovered by your so smart self, making you even smarter.

If you are using Microsoft or Mac, plus popular software like Adobe Photoshop and have a printer well used by photographers, there are oodles of resources quickly acquired via the net or libraries. I will list 4 books.

Mastering Digital Printing by Harald Johnson – Muska & Lipman
Digital Print Styles Recipe Book by Tim Daly – Peachpit Press
Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing by Rob Sheppard – Lark Books
301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques by Andrew Darlow – Thomson Course Technology

Now, if you have a newer printer but not so well used, use Linux OS and software like GIMP and Inkscape, resources are less. Mainly because Linux is not big enough for vendors to chase after and users are often not the kind to document their work and findings for the world to see (they aren't prone to write books!). So we are gleaning info from other equipment setups and using that as a starting point to make it all work for us.

When I first touched computer graphics, there was not much talk about printing except text or maybe desktop publishing. Web designers and game artist don't have the concern like photographers and graphic artist. The printer is essential if the print is the important output of the PC itself. So here the problem the PC does the heavy lifting and shows you the picture on the monitor. Then the PC sends it to the printer on the other side. If you can't preview the printer's output by what you see on the monitor, you'll just have to take what the printer spits out. “Gee man, I should be able to make this better!” Exactly! I would want to see very close to what the printer prints before it prints, same colors, same values. This take some work, some time and pays off big time.

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