Beyond the Manual

The experts in Tech Support share their favorite tips for streamlining workflow and cranking up productivity with ImagePrint.

Lightroom to ImagePrint in One Click

Many ImagePrint customers use Adobe’s Lightroom to process and organize their images. But… getting them from one program to the other is a bit of a chore; export the image from Lightroom, find the file on your computer, then re-open it in ImagePrint. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid those extra steps and go straight from Lightroom to ImagePrint? Good news, you can!

Lightroom’s External Editor feature is the key. Once ImagePrint is set up as an external editor, you can place an image directly into ImagePrint’s layout window from the Lightroom menu. Setting up ImagePrint as an external editor is easy. The following steps are based on Lightroom 4.0, but should be similar in later versions.

In Lightroom, choose Preferences from the top menu. Then, choose the External Editing tab at the top of the Preferences window. Look for the section labeled: Additional External Editor and click Choose. This will open a new window where you'll select the ImagePrint executable.

On Mac, the file you’re looking for is “ImagePrint.app” You’ll find it in the ImagePrint folder inside your Mac’s Application folder.

On PC, look for the file “ImagePrint.exe”. You’ll find it in the ImagePrint folder which is located in your Program Files folder.

Once you find the ImagePrint executable, click Choose to lock in your choice.

Now you can set some rules for Lightroom to follow when it sends images to ImagePrint.

  • In the File Format drop-down, choose TIFF.
  • In the Color Space drop-down, choose your preferred source space (usually Adobe 1998 or Pro Photo RGB).
  • In the Bit-Depth drop-down, choose 16-bit.
  • For Resolution, if you don’t plan to scale the image in ImagePrint, 240 or above is fine. If you plan to use ImagePrint’s scaling, you may want to go higher to avoid losing detail.
  • Finally, for Compression leave it at None

Now that we’ve set up ImagePrint as our editor and set the rules that Lightroom will use, we need to save our settings as a Preset. Click the Preset drop-down menu at the top of the Additional External Editor area and choose Save Current Preset. Type ImagePrint for the preset name. Click Create.

To use the preset, right-click (or control-click) the image and choose Edit in ImagePrint. You can also select the option from the Photo menu at the top of the Develop screen. ImagePrint will launch (if it’s not already running), and the Lightroom image will appear in the layout window. From there uoi can use ImagePrint's workflow tools to position and resize the image, then click Print to send it to the printer. Remember: ImagePrint's editing tools are non-destructive, meaning the tweaks you make with ImagePrint are not saved to the file. Your original Lightroom edits will not be affected by anything you do with ImagePrint.

 

Borders and Frames – What’s the Difference?

ImagePrint 10 has two ways of adding a decorative edge to prints: Borders (using the Borders Browser) and Frames. Though they sound similar, they’re actually quite different in the effects they can achieve. Still, it can be a bit confusing as to which tool does what and when to use it. So here’s a quick rundown on how these two “edgy” features work:

Quick and Easy Frames

Frames are simple: A solid rectangle surrounding an image. Adding one is as simple as right-clicking an image, choosing “Add Background” and clicking FRAME in the window that appears. Next you specify the distance from the edge of the image,thickness and color, click OK and BAM: You have a nice frame around your image. If you want to get a bit more complex you can also specify a matte area between the image’s edge and the interior frame edge. This matte area can be filled with a solid color or left transparent, opening the door to lots of design options. For exmple, try placing a framed image with a transparent matte over another image. The underlying image will show through the matted area giving you a unique, personalized frame.

Borders and Edges

Borders are a bit more complex. Instead of being limited to rectangular shapes generated by ImagePrint, borders are actually images themselves. You can create these border images yourself or purchase pre-made packages from companies that specialize in artistic borders.

Just a couple of things to keep in mind about these border files: They need to be in PhotoShop PSD format, 8 bit. And…each border file needs to match the aspect ratio (in other words, the shape) of the images you plan to apply it to or some part of the image will be cropped to fit. Also, the size of the border you select is important because the image will be resized to match the border, rather than the other way around. For example, if you apply an 8×10 border to a 4×5 image, you’ll end up with an 8×10 bordered image (you can resize it afterward using ImagePrint’s normal scaling tools). Once you've created or purchased your borders, be sure save them in the Borders folder that you'll find inside the ImagePrint folder on your computer.

Open the Borders Browser window by selecting it from the View menu. Simply drag any border on top of an image to add it. The original image will show through the transparent areas of the border file while the non-transparent parts of the border will overlay it. Borders can also be used for effects that aren’t really “borders” at all. Such as placing your logo in the bottom corner of photographs or creating cards with transparent areas for people’s faces, or… well, the possibilities are almost endless.

So… Frames or Borders, which to use?

It depends on your needs. Want a simple, colored rectangle around your image, maybe with a matte interior? Frames are the way to go. Need an artistic, ragged edge or vignette effect, or an easy way to apply a static graphic effect or logo to images? You should be looking at Borders.

Need more information? Frames are discussed in much more detail in the ImagePrint 9 User’s Guide (chapter 13). Borders are discussed in chapter 11.

 

Boundaries – Layouts within Layouts!

ImagePrint makes it easy to add multiple images to a layout, but did you know there’s a way to create “sub-layouts” of images within a page? The feature is called Boundaries, one of the most versatile and unique (and probably unknown) of all ImagePrint’s layout features. You can use a boundary to quickly put a colored background behind a group of images or just use it as an easy method of placing and moving groups of images while maintaining their position relative to one another. Boundaries can be especially useful on larger printers as it allows you to easily create multiple album pages or greeting cards within a single page.

You create a boundary by right clicking (or control clicking if you don’t have a right mouse button) in an empty spot within your ImagePrint layout area. In the menu that appears, choose “Add Boundary”, then in the “Add Boundary Area” window type in a width and height (choose a size smaller than your current page, but one that will accommodate the images you plan to add). By default the boundary will be transparent, but if you want it to be a colored background, choose Solid at the top of the window and pick your color via the color picker menu at the bottom.

You should now see the boundary on your page. Now open some images and drag them into it. You can click and drag images to move them around within the boundary area just like normal–nothing too special there. But once you have some images within the boundary–try clicking an empty spot within the boundary and dragging. The boundary itself moves, along with all of the images within it. You now have a region of images you can move anywhere on the page!

Once a boundary has been created, it’s size and color can’t be changed, so to make alterations you’ll need to delete it and recreate it with the new parameters. You delete a boundary just like an image–click the boundary, then choose the black scissors icon from the floating tool palette.

There’s a lot more that can be said about boundaries (for instance, the way they handle crop marks and annotations of images dragged into them is, well,cool) but that’s all we have space for here. You’ll find more information within the user’s manual (chapter 13) but those are the basics of this powerful, unique tool.

 

What is…Print Through Application (PTA)?

We like to think that ImagePrint’s layout area is the easiest way to position and size images for printing that’s yet been invented. But, while most users prefer to use its powerful layout tools, there are some cases where it may be convenient to print directly from applications without having to save images first and reopen them. Also, if you use an application that doesn’t save JPEG, TIFF or PSD files, it may be impossible to create a file that can be opened right into ImagePrint–at least without first opening and then resaving it in the right format from Photoshop. This is where PTA comes in. PTA allows you to print right from a Windows or Macintosh application such as Photoshop or Lightroom. You can choose to send the job right into ImagePrint’s spooler (utilizing ImagePrint’s normal color management and printing features), or you can opt to export the layout right into ImagePrint prior to printing.

Printing through Applications does require that the PTA option be enabled at an additional cost of $200.00. That’s per dongle, not per printer license, so you just need to purchase the PTA option once if you have multiple printers on the same computer. You will need a new ImagePrint encryption to unlock the feature, and it does require some extra installation steps beyond the normal ImagePrint setup.

Printing directly from applications can be very convenient but there are some key differences between printing with PTA and printing directly from ImagePrint. First and foremost, you lose the ability to utilize ImagePrint’s powerful layout features. (Although of course ImagePrint is still always available at any time.) Since you’re not using the Imageprint interface, our softproofing is not in effect, and features like step-and-repeat and templates will not be available. Also, printing multi-page spreads may not work as expected.

Because of these limitations, PTA printing is not for everybody–we usually recommend it for workflows that utilize simple, single image layouts. But, if you regularly have the need to just open an image and click print, and would like to avoid the extra steps of saving and placing the image in ImagePrint first, PTA may be a great way to get the same printing quality you’re used to in a few less steps.

For more info on PTA, check out chapter 15 of the PDF ImagePrint Users Manual (you can access it from ImagePrint’s Help menu). To order a PTA license, just contact our sales dept. at 813 963-0241.

 

Four Easy Ways to Open Images

ImagePrint offers several different ways to open images so you can pick the one that best suits your workflow.

Method 1: The Image Strip
The Image Strip displays thumbnail previews of your images for easy selection. If don't see it when ImagePrint launches, go to View > Image Strip and click Visible. To change the folder you're looking at, use the Folders tab located just under the PRINT button at the top of the Dashboard. Double-click a thumbnail , or drag it into ImagePrint's layout area, to open it. To select multiple images, hold down control (Windows) or command (Mac) while clicking. Since it takes time to build the thumbnails, the Image Strip is best for local (non-networked) folders that contain less than a hundred images.

Method 2: File/Open
You can also open images into ImagePrint the old-fashioned way. Choose File > Open and navigate to the image via a standard file choice window. This method is great if your folder contains hundreds of images and you don't want to wait for thumbnails to be built, or if your images are located on a networked folder.

Method 3: Drag and drop
Drag your images from their Mac Finder folder or Windows Explorer folder into the ImagePrint layout window.

Method 4: Recently used files
The last 5 images you opened are stored under the File menu, allowing you to easily re-open them with one click.

 

Getting a Closer Look

Most users know that ImagePrint always “soft proofs” its display, guaranteeing the preview you see on screen will match your printed output. However, while the colors are accurate, you may find that the image is too small or doesn’t show enough detail to accurately represent the final print. ImagePrint offers two ways to get a better look at the details before you commit to Print. You can select a higher quality for all previews as they open in the Layout window, or get really close to a single image using our high-resolution preview.

For better quality previews in the Layout window, go to Preferences (Mac) or View (Windows). On the General tab, change the “Preview Size” to a higher number. The next time you open an image, you'll see a sharper preview.

If you need even more detail, you'll want to take advantage of the high-resolution preview that's built-in to our Corrections tool. Just choose Edit > Corrections and then select any option. A window will open with two previews of your image. The image on the right (labeled "After") shows the final image exactly as it will print. You can use the magnifying glasses on the right side of the window to zoom in and out, or pick a pre-set zoom level via the Set Zoom menu. You can read more about ImagePrint's full editing capabilites, including the "Before and After" previews, in Chapter 9 of the ImagePrint User's Manual.

 

Spoolface Page Preview

ImagePrint’s Spoolface utility lets you monitor the progress of your print jobs and cancel, resubmit and reorder their priority by drag and dropping the job names. But did you know Spoolface will also show you a preview of the images in each print job?

To turn on the feature, launch ImagePrint and open the Preferences window (you’ll find it under the View menu on the PC and under the ImagePrint menu on Macs). Click the check box next to Generate Previews for Spoolface, then close the window.

Presto–any future print jobs will now show a thumbnail preview of the page!

 

Protecting your Print

It’s a scary world for an inkjet print, full of ultraviolet radiation, condensation, oxidation… not to mention the sticky fingers of 6-year-olds. While the thought of locking your prints away in a dark, vacuum-sealed chamber is tempting, there're better ways to protect your beloved prints without hiding them from the world. You can protect your work without compromising its look and feel if you take care to choose a method that enhances (or at least doesn’t detract from) the characteristics of the print.

The Potential Pitfalls of Coatings

Consider the paper you're using, is it matte or glossy? That’s important, as most protective coatings change the print's reflective characteristics. While the added shininess of a glossy coating may not be noticeable on a high-gloss paper, it can make a major difference in the appearance of a matte or semi-matte one. And vice versa, a matte fixative can dull the shine of a glossy print.

Texture may be reduced or eliminated by the addition of a sealant. And other unique characteristics, like the ultra-contrast of metallic papers or the silver gelatin look of some fiber papers may take a hit as well.

In most cases there will be some impact on the perceived color vibrancy and density of the print due to the change in reflectivity or because of a tint inherent in the coating. Many people find that they like the affect: blacks can look blacker, contrasts are deeper, colors more vibrant. It's important to aware that these “enhancements” may occur so you're surprised by the results.

Some liquid sealants may dampen the paper enough to cause it to visibly warp. And it’s not unheard of for coatings to yellow or crack over time. Odor can also be an issue. Some people notice a permanent chemical smell after coating even after considerable time has been allowed for outgassing.

With all of these factors to consider you may decide not to take additional steps to protect your prints. After all, today’s pigment inks are water resistant and fade resistant–in a normal indoor environment. They can be expected to last up to 80 years without extensive fading. At least that’s what the simulations tell us. No inkjet prints are that old yet. However, if your prints will be outdoors (or close enough to a door or window to receive weather effects), in direct sunlight or exposed to physical handling then the advantages of some form of coating may outweigh the pitfalls. With a little research, depending on the method of protection, you can make your print significantly more waterproof, UV proof…even sticky-finger proof.

Gloss differential and bronzing

Even if protection isn’t a concern, there's another advantage to coating your prints. Most coatings will reduce or eliminate gloss differential and bronzing. Gloss differential happens when there’s a clear difference between the “inked” area of a print and the areas that received no ink. Viewed at an angle, you’ll see the inked areas have a different reflective quality while the non-inked areas of a print show a different glossiness. Bronzing is a phenomenon in which the light reflective characteristics of the inks cause a golden “oil on water” sheen to the print when looked at an angle. Both these phenomenon are tamed with virtually any kind of protective coating as they will even out the reflective characteristics of the print.

Calibration and Soft Proofing

Paper profiles, in nearly every case are NOT made on papers with protective coatings applied. If your preferred coating does change the tint or density of your prints in a significant manner, it can be tricky to compensate for it editing your images. One workaround is to simply create a soft proof of the coating’s effects in Photoshop via an adjustment layer. First, make sure you are getting a good screen to print match without the coating applied (using your printer/paper profile via the normal View-Proof Setup methods within Photoshop). Now, coat the print, let it dry, and hold it next to the computer screen while Photoshop displays the same image as a soft proof. Create an adjustment layer in Photoshop and use its controls to match the tint or density. Now, when you're correcting images that you will be printing and coating, you can activate the adjustment layer to see how the coating will affect it. Make sure not to save the adjustment layer with the image – the adjustment layer is just for seeing the change the coating will make so you can correct for it!

 

Double-sided Printing

When it comes to producing album pages, brochures or greeting cards, printing on both sides of the paper is a must. But printing double-sided on an inkjet printer can be a tricky proposition. Getting things registered perfectly while avoiding the dreaded backside roller marks can be a frustrating experience fraught with wasted paper, wasted time and lost revenue. However, while two-sided printing presents unique challenges, taking some basic precautions and using the right tools can greatly improve your chances of success.

Protecting the back side

Probably the biggest challenge in double-sided printing is avoiding roller marks on the non-printing side of the paper. It’s no fun to see a perfect print ruined as it passes a 2nd time through the printer by ink tracks or roller dents. Here are some things you can do to prevent problems.

Keeping it clean

First and foremost, keep the paper path free of ink left behind by previous prints. Some users regularly wipe down the rollers and guides with cleaning solutions or alcohol to remove any excess ink, though there are some who think alcohol can lead to degradation of the rubber rollers, eventually leading to rubber marks on the paper. (Rubber rejuvenator solutions can help in that case.) Some paper manufacturers, like Red River, sell printer cleaning kits that can be used to remove residual ink from the rollers.

Avoiding full-bleed printing (which can lead to inking off the edge of the sheet) may be a good idea if you regularly need to print on both sides of the paper. And this one may be obvious–give the first print time to dry before feeding it through a second time.

Dent avoidance

The other big danger encountered with duplex printing are the roller “dents” or scratches that can occur, especially on softer, chalkier papers, as the paper feed mechanism of the printer is pushed against the bottom of the paper on its journey through the printer. If possible, use a paper with a firmer, less delicate coating to avoid this kind of damage. Using wider paper feed settings–like a media type setting geared to a thicker paper within ImagePrint, or wider platen gap on the printer, can help as well. If you must print on a paper with a softer, more easily damaged surface, you may want to consider backing the paper with a “donor” sheet to protect it. (Though this presents its own challenges–feeding two sheets together through the printer is sure to tempt the paper jam gods).

Positioning for the second pass

Positioning images can be confusing when the paper is flipped and/or rotated. After roller marks and dents, registration of each side of the print relative to the other is probably the most frustrating aspect of double-sided printing.

Many printers have different top/bottom margins, so it’s important to know the true printable area of your paper and what those leading/trailing margins will be. ImagePrint's “Center printable margins” feature will equalize both margins, reducing total print size but making it much easier to center images on the physical page. ImagePrint also offers a snap to grid feature as well as the ability to specify exact coordinates relative to the paper edge. Both can be invaluable when you need exact positioning.

Even with the layout tools provided by ImagePrint, printing multiple images on both sides of a page is a challenge, especially if you need to offset each side differently to accommodate page bindings. To improve your chances of getting the positioning right the first time, we recommned arranging the images into one large “page image” in Photoshop. Then position that single image using ImagePrint.

Double-sided paper issues

For double-sided printing to work, both sides of the paper must be surfaced with an ink receptive coating. That coating makes the media slick on both sides which can lead to more slippage as it passes through the printer. You should expect to encounter more paper feed issues on double-sided media than single sided for this reason. There's not much you can do about this one but be aware of the issue and pack plenty of extra patience when taking on a double-sided print.

There're plenty of choices for double-sided media making it easy to find the right one for your particular project. You'll find dozens of them in our profile library, but if you come across one we haven’t profiled yet, let us know. Profile generation for valid papers is always free for Imageprint users, though we may ask you to send us a few sheets of the media in order to produce the calibration print.

 

Real World Color Management

Digital printing (and especially color management) are complex subjects, and here at ColorByte we’re often asked for recommendations on where users can go to learn more.there’s no better or more respected book on the subject of Color Management than “Real World Color Management” by Fred Bunting, Chris Murphy and the late, great Bruce Fraser. Although last updated in 2005, it still offers the best, easiest to follow explanations on profiling and digital output. In fact, many consider this to be the “bible” of Color Management. Though some of the software and tools recommended in this book have changed, the underlying concepts are still as valid today as they were in 2005. Thorough, yet told in an easy to follow, humorous style, this is THE indispensable resource for those seeking to further their understanding of how color management works in the real world.