Custom Profiles for the Epson 3800

I’ve been printing on my Epson 3800 for several months now — learning how to use it optimally and producing a few nice prints. Since prints never look exactly like they look on screen, even with color proofing, I’ve gotten in the habit of first printing on small sheets of cheap paper (10×15 cm Epson Premium Glossy). I’d then look how the print differs from the image on screen and try to correct the difference on an adjustment layer. I’d play some with the lightness, contrast or saturation, and after two or three tests I’d have a print that matches the image on screen very closely. I would then make larger prints on more expensive paper (A4 or A3+ Ilford Smooth Pearl). The new adjustment layers go in a separate layer group that can be turned on or off, depending on if I am making a paper print of a JPG for viewing on screen.

But I’d noticed a strange thing. Certain bluish hues would print very well on Epson Premium Glossy, but would exhibit a subtle color shift towards green when printed on Ilford Smooth Pearl. I know that different papers have a different look, but this was something different. But what was it? If prints on Epson Smooth match the colors on screen very well, but prints on Ilford Pearl have a color shift, it must be that the standard Ilford profile does not match my printer very well. (Or is it the other way around?)

With IGSPP9_EP3800PSPPn_1206

I’d already found Eric Chan’s excellent pages dedicated to the Epson 3800 and was pleased to see that he is offering to build custom profiles for $20 US for any one paper. So I printed his targets on my printer and mailed them to him. This morning I received Eric’s profiles and printed an image that previously exhibited the color shift. Guess what — it prints perfectly with Eric’s profile!

With 3800 IlfordSmoothPearl RGB XR

The differences between the two images are quite subtle, and both look good in their own right. But only the second one looks like it looks on my screen and like it was in real life. So thanks Eric!