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Old 12-13-2019, 12:11 PM
Bibi Snelderwaard Bibi Snelderwaard is offline
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Advice needed on prints from digital images, print on demand companies.

I've been doing Christmas card paintings for years using shutterfly and snapfish and the last couple of years I've been using vistaprint. The results have always been hit and mostly miss. The problem I'm having is that most of the time, the result comes out very different from what I uploaded. The last two years I've really taken great care in getting the digital image as close to the original painting as I can, (using daylight for photography, camera on tripod, using Adobe Lightroom to get the colors right, high res) and my heart just sank when I received the cards. I then created a lighter version, vistaprint redid the order at no cost, but they came out even darker!

I'm also using Fineartamerica(not for printing Christmas cards but for customers to order prints) and ordered a mug with this painting on it: Same issue! I'm now not sure if I should continue with Fineartamerica.

Which company prints it as is? Or what can I do better to make sure the prints come out better? I would like to feel confident about the quality when I refer people to fineartamerica or when I send for another batch of Christmas cards.
Attached pic of painting, pics of end result in Christmas cards and mug.



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Old 12-14-2019, 09:16 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Advice needed on prints from digital images, print on demand companies.

I bought one print from Fine Art America and decided against using it because the print was so much darker than the file. I bought my own printer after that, which turned out to be a PIA (chose a lemon), but one thing I learned from it was to make the file a bit lighter than I wanted the print to turn out. If you really want to get into the technical side of matching a file to a print, check out Red River Paper's info on making color profiles and stuff:
https://www.redrivercatalog.com/infocenter/

I also had the experience of a mostly white image being reproduced as grey on a mug from printful.com (which actually creates beautiful mugs), so I made sure if I had a lot of white by using on Photoshop Elements Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Shadows/Highlights. This lightens the file substantially without making it look washed out or garish. But you do have to experiment.

Also, some people use ColorMunkis, which calibrate your file to your monitor display. I have never tried them. I gave up and decided to just wing it and have a company print them. I used gicleetoday.com and my prints came out fine but for now I am not selling prints.

colormunki:
https://www.colormunki.com/
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:34 PM
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Mike L Mike L is offline
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Re: Advice needed on prints from digital images, print on demand companies.

Remember the "rumor game" in which the first player is told a short story and must then tell the same story to the next player who, in turn, passes his version of the story to the next player; and on and on until the last player in line must tell the story to everyone else? Seldom is the story told by the last player a true copy of the story told to the first player, and often absolutely nothing like the original.

Moral of the story? An image that enters the internet from your computer is seldom what comes off the printer or even from someone else's monitor. There are just too many ways for it to go wrong. Color profiles in the file and the print driver have to be pretty darn close, inks must match the profile, too, (meaning OEM inks and not the cheapest inks from the local refill shop) and file types are important - .jpg's are very "lossy" and loose a lot of resolution and other information every time it is opened. Even a proof file doesn't guarantee the finished product will be what came from your computer. There are just too many factors that can adversely effect the finished print.

Printers themselves can be the source of "off" appearing prints. Not that most online printing services use $99 three color desk top printers - like me - but some do buy economical printers which may not be able to handle the color gamut the original file requires. In a case like this a lower resolution file might bring it all into line with expectations.

Dye sublimation inks, used for most ceramic printing, are like acrylic paints in that the image is usually darker on the substrate than if printed with "standard" inks on paper, so that can be an issue with mug/tile printing.

Best strategy is to get a physical sample of what the finished product will be before approving the run. If it doesn't match your expectations try working with the business to find out what they need to print your file satisfactorily.

Zazzle.com is a good company to work with and they produce accurate images from your files if the files are within the boundaries of their specifications
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Old 12-14-2019, 10:04 PM
Bibi Snelderwaard Bibi Snelderwaard is offline
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Re: Advice needed on prints from digital images, print on demand companies.

Harold Roth, thanks for your input. I will try to upload a lighter version. I've considered getting a colormonki but for now, I feel that I just know too little about digital color management to make good use out of it but eventually, I want to make my own prints just to be able to control everything and then I will have to get one.
Mike L, I had no idea that information gets lost by just opening a jpeg, would saving it in another format prevent that? And you say that a lower resolution can help? I always thought that higher was better but I guess higher resolution also provides more opportunity for things to go wrong, is that it?
I will check out Zazzle, thanks for your input!
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:50 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Advice needed on prints from digital images, print on demand companies.

The best file for printing is a tiff file. jpgs lose data after being opened over and over. Some print companies do accept jpgs; others want tiff or psd.

When I get the file assembled through Photoshop of the images stitched together using the Panorama function, I save it as a tiff of the same dimensions as the original painting and with at least 300 dpi. Use a tiff copy of that to modify the color and clean up the image, if you have to (like you notice bristle hairs or lint or whatever). Use that to print and you can then make jpgs at 72 dpi from that for use online on your website, Facebook, Instagram, whatever. It doesn't matter if those files are lossy because you can always make new ones from your tiff, which isn't a lossy file form.

I hear ya about the colormunki and all.
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Old 12-15-2019, 07:44 AM
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Mike L Mike L is offline
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Re: Advice needed on prints from digital images, print on demand companies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bibi Snelderwaard
Harold Roth, thanks for your input. I will try to upload a lighter version. I've considered getting a colormonki but for now, I feel that I just know too little about digital color management to make good use out of it but eventually, I want to make my own prints just to be able to control everything and then I will have to get one.
Mike L, I had no idea that information gets lost by just opening a jpeg, would saving it in another format prevent that? And you say that a lower resolution can help? I always thought that higher was better but I guess higher resolution also provides more opportunity for things to go wrong, is that it?
I will check out Zazzle, thanks for your input!

Yup, a lower resolution can be the key, sometimes. I like working at 300 dpi which is great for some printers. But 150 dpi works better for other (usually less expensive) printers - even professional quality machines. So, discovering what printer will be used can make a big difference in finished product. However, don't depend on fixing just one thing - there is usually several issues to address when the output isn't right.

As Harold Roth said, .tif images are considered lossless, but they are large files. Portable Network Graphics (.PNG) format (my go to file format) is also lossless and popular - maybe because it can be used with transparent backgrounds .EPS is another format and can be stuffed with both raster and vector images, but is not usually chosen by POD sites as a favorite.

Here's a link that explains some of the file formats that can be used and what they are best used for.

The real key, though, remains seeing a finished product and working with the printer to get the results you want before releasing the file for production.
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