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Mass production of high-resolution digital prints--help needed

Say that someone wanted to publish about tens of thousands of copies of some photographs (about 10 by 16 inches, near A3 size) that are nearly as good as 6-color Epson ink-jet digital prints. Can an expert help this person?

I'm having problems with standard 4-color printing of the beautiful Epson inkjet prints of my sculptures for Beautiful Evidence and am looking expert high-end advice on alternative methods, color correction, and so on. Our Epson prints are beautiful, the 4-color proofs we've seen are not. What to do?

-- Edward Tufte

While not commonly in use, the Pantone Hexachrome process is largely what the Epson design is derived from. It introduces additional colors into the printing process to increase the available color gamut. It's not cheap, but it is amazing when done correctly. Many high-end printing companies have 6-color presses (Heidelberg makes an excellent one for large runs), and while they are often used to produce spot color, the additional ink can be used with the Hexachrome process once you have the tools for separations.

-- Christopher Petrilli (email)

In his book "Within the Stone", Bill Atkinson mentions that he had to make custom profiles for the offset printers. The pictures from the book are stunning.

-- Ken Davignon (email)

Ask your local photo or large format vendor if they have LightJet or Lamda prints. They instantly image photo paper with a laser. The output is true photo quality. It can image a variety of media: photo paper, polyester film, metalic paper, pealescent paper, etc.

-- HistoricDundee (email)

In addition to the 6-color Hexachrome palette, printing using a waterless process will allow for much higher screen resolutions (up to 500 dpi) compared with 150-200 dpi for more traditional offset processes. This produces near-continuous-tone images while using a less expensive offset process.

I've used a waterless printer for several jobs, and have been very happy with the results.

-- V. Thorstenson (email)

Have you solved this problem? I have consulted on areas like this and could offer my opinion if you wanted.

-- Jeff Delezen (email)

You've probably fixed this by now, but:

The epson prints are using hexacolour printing (which separates the images into cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange and green). This allows for a much wider (and therefore richer) gamut of colours than what 4-colour (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) can give you, and that's why your 4-color proofs are looking inadequate.

Most good presses (even here in India) have hexacolour capabilities, so I'd imagine it shouldn't be too much of an issue to source this wherever you are.

[Note: I don't know what model Epson printer you're using, but there's a chance that it might be separating into cmyk + light cyan and light magenta instead of cmykog (some Epson models do that), but the concept remains the same]

-- Andy Malhan (email)


I've been perusing your site looking for inspiration for a graphic design class project and came across this post. Hopefully you've already gotten an answer from a high-end printer, but if not, a stochastic RIP should get you a lot closer to an inkjet.

Dave Roos

-- David Roos (email)

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