Printing Your Lettering And Illustrations Part 1: Monitor Calibration


There’s just something about printing your work for display. Whether it’s simply pinning it to a bulletin board or framing it. It’s just more real. It also encourages me to want to produce more.

Printing at home can be frustrating. Sure, you don’t have the hassle of arranging shipping and the wait time. But the convenience of printing at home can come at a cost. If you’re like me, and want the satisfaction of producing decent prints yourself, then I’d like to share some tips that may make things easier for you.

I won’t go into any specific printer recommendations. That will depend on many things—your budget, the size of print, etc … There are many other resources online to help you with your choice. Personally, I use an Epson R3000.

When I purchased my first large format inkjet, a Canon Pro9500, I went through a LOT of ink and paper. I was throwing away about 50% of my prints. They were too dark, too light, or had weird colour casts. This was supposed to be fun! Getting weary of all the extra trips to buy supplies, I decided to do something about it. What follows is not an in-depth analysis. There are many other resources that go into far more detail than I can here. What follows is what I would consider to be the baseline for making decent prints.

I’ll assume you have some basic knowledge of Photoshop.


Tip #1: Calibrate your monitor!

Even the best monitor will probably be “off”. I was shocked at how blue my iMac was at it’s default setting. There are a few calibrators on the market (ColorMunki, Spyder). I’m currently using a Spyder 4. It’s basically a mouse sized device that sits on your monitor screen. Using the supplied software, it’ll bring your monitor back into calibration by displaying colour targets on the screen. The device will then analyze the targets and compare them to it’s database. Once completed, you can then save this setting. Many will also account for the ambient light in the room. The procedure only takes a few minutes. With the Spyder, I can set up reminders to run the procedure. I typically will run it every 3-4 months.

Even if you do nothing else, calibrate your monitor!

In the next post, I’ll talk about printer profiles.