06 How do I add a classic border?
Adding a border isn’t just a great way to give your images a professional look. A popular option is the classic border, as the simple, solid line surrounding the image will look great with almost any image style. It works especially well with black and white shots (download our 50 free photo frames and borders for Photoshop).
Although the concept of this type of border is relatively simple, in practice figuring out the dimensions can take a little working out, especially as it’s easy for the image to end up off-centre or positioned incorrectly within the borders.
Before you start, it’s a good idea to have a pen and paper at the ready to jot down the numbers of the image and border size you want and the image dimensions.
In this tutorial, we’re going to look at how to apply a thick black line surrounding the image and, in turn, this will be placed into a larger white surround. As the border will cover much of the printed area, this double border approach is best suited to prints of A4 and above.
Step 1 Choose your paper size
We’re going to print at standard A4 and want a border of 35mm on each side, 2mm of which will be black and the rest will be white.
Step 2 Resize your image
Select the Crop tool and enter 14.4cm x 23.1cm and crop. Next, go to Image>Canvas Size and increase to 14.8cm x 23.5cm with a black background.
Step 3 Add a Layer style
To add the larger white surround, go back to Canvas Size and increase the canvas to 21cm x 29.7cm with a white background. Click OK to finish.
07 Is it OK to use third-party inks?
Third-party inks are supplied by companies other than the printer manufacturer and usually cheaper. They are certainly worth using but you need to be careful; it’s worth pointing out that any failure or damage caused to the printer by using third-party inks will not be covered by the print manufacturer’s warranty.
As a guide, if the ink is marketed by a specialist photographic company (Fotospeed, Permajet, Lyson etc), you’re probably on safe ground, but if you see cheap inks offered by a non-photo specialist outlet you need to tread carefully.
08 How do I get sharper prints?
Assuming that your camera technique is up to scratch, images should be sharp in terms of focusing and free of camera shake. But details can be enhanced by adding an Unsharp Mask in your editing software.
This is the last operation before printing out. Experienced printers use the High Pass option, found under the Filter menu.
Start by duplicating the image in the Layer Palette, then go to the Filter menu and select High Pass. Set a figure of between 2.0 to 4.0 pixels, click OK.
Return to the Palette and change the Layer Blend mode from Normal to Soft Light or Overlay.
09 How do I improve B&W prints?
The simplest way to get decent monochrome prints is by choosing to print with the black ink only. This is usually an option in the printer’s interface. You can get neutral black & white prints using the full colour inkset but you need to adjust the colour controls and do a few tests with your monochrome images.
To see which settings give the best results, output the same mono image using different settings, making note of what you have used. Assess the results and next time use the same settings. The colour inks come in very useful when printing images that have been digitally toned.
Top-end printers give better monochrome print quality using two or more black inks to reproduce all the shades of grey needed more accurately.
The Epson Stylus Photo R2880 has Photo Black, Light Black and Light Light Black inks, for instance. There’s also Matte Black for matt-finish materials.
10 Why are my prints a strange colour?
Every digital device, including computer monitors and printers, have their own way of interpreting colour. It’s the printing stage where variations are most evident so your problem is likely to be the result of an uncalibrated monitor and not using the right profile for your printer/ink/paper combination.
What you need to do is practice some colour management. First, calibrate the monitor, and then use an ICC profile that suits your output equipment. This will ensure that the colour of your image is the same from source to print without any interference from your devices along the way.
For monitor calibration, there are devices like the Pantone Huey and the Spyder2express (both about £70 from Colour Confidence), which can do this.
Leave the computer on to warm up for an hour or two before calibration and repeat the process monthly. Now get a profile for your print set-up. Profiles are sometimes available for downloads on the paper supplier’s website – for example, Permajet and Epson have profiles available.
Fotospeed has taken a different approach and offers a bespoke system so you know that the profile has been written to match your printer, ink and paper. Use Fotospeed paper, regardless of printer brand, and this service is free.
The thing about colour is that it’s subjective. Using something like a colour checker chart gives a non-subjective standard that you can use as a comparison aid. It includes a collection of colours that represent typical subjects such as sky, foliage and flesh tones and include black and white.
Shoot a test a picture with the ColorChecker Chart (A4 and mini versions are available from www.colourconfidence.com for £61 and £48, respectively) within the scene so that it’s receiving the same light as the subject and, when you come to print the image, you have an objective comparison.
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