Tutorials - Print Preparation
In my start to finish photo editing tutorials I also address the topic of preparing photos for print. But as I prepared a huge set of prints for an exhibition recently, I found that I had to go into much more details to show my complete workflow for print. For this reason I decided to record a set of in depth tutorials focussing solely on fine art printing.
The process I show here can be combined with the workflow I show in my start to finish tutorials as it starts right where those tutorials end.
Removing Flaws from Photos
The first step in print preparation starts with the final master files, which are usually the result of a proper photo editing process. Those are the photos that were used to create derivatives to post on the web and now they are used to create proper, printable files.
The difference is that for photos to look good in print, much more care has to be taken. I, for example, regularly sell prints up to 48'' in size. And for such large prints I have to make sure that even the smallest details are reproduced perfectly. Here I do additional retouching to remove smaller flaws, which I overlooked in the normal editing process. Those are usually not visible in a web representation of the photos, but would become apparent in a large fine art print.
Soft Proof and Print Sharpening
After the photos are cleaned up, it's time to get the colors and brightness to look correct on paper. A prerequisite to get those right is a calibrated monitor. The soft proofing can be done in Lightroom as I show in the video tutorial below.
Once the soft proofing is complete the next step is to resize the photos to the proper print size and to perform print sharpening.
As if all this wasn't enough, there's still one more step to complete before I order a large, expensive print. Especially for larger print orders it's a good idea to first order a set of proof prints, which usually cost only a fraction of what the final print will cost.
Such proof prints can then be used to do a final comparison with the photos as they are rendrered on the screen. Ideally they should look nearly the same in terms of color and brightness.
Once I'm satisfied with the proof prints, which sometimes involves multiple iterations, I'm finally ready to order the final prints. You might now wonder, if all this work and additional cost is really worth it. But just consider this: A 48'' print mounted behind acryllic glass costs nearly 300 Euros at Whitewall. It would be quite a gamble to directly order it only based on some soft proofing.