16 August 2010

How to create stunning gallery prints

Your art looks fabulous on-screen, but to show its maximum potential, you need to get it printed out at the highest possible quality ready for to hang on your walls. The best way to do this is to use a top-notch professional A3+ inkjet printer – which produces large prints that are ready for sale.

Follow step-by-step as Ciara Phelan takes you behind-the-scenes as she creates one of her fantastic retro-inspired artworks, and then see how she selects output settings and paper types to produce perfect prints from a Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II.

You’ll learn how to arrange and combine elements for dynamic effect at A3 size, optimising contrast and developing collections of strong colours that will look stunning when output at the highest quality – with far more flexibility than with traditional print systems. You’ll also be guided through how to use Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint Pro plug-in for Photoshop, which combines the functions of Photoshop’s Print and the printer’s settings dialogues to make conflicts a thing of the past and getting the results you want a doddle.

Step 1 When making a collage poster it is important to source the right imagery. The whole success of the composition will hinge on the range and quality of images you have to choose from.

For this print, we’re harking back to the look of the circus in old children’s books and encyclopedias. I’ve collected a set of stock images that represent what it must have felt like to go to a big traveling circus as a child in the mid-20th century – the excitement of human acrobatic ability and exotic animals. If you want to create retro-looking images from your own photos, see our tip.

Step 2 Open Photoshop and create a new print ready document by selecting File > New. In the Preset window chose International Paper. then Size > A3. The Pro9500 Mark II supports paper sizes up yo A3+, , but I’ve chosen this size to match a frame I have my eye on. Set the resolution at 300pi and Colour Mode to CMYK.

Step 3 It is important that an illustration has at least one central main element to draw the eye before it heads off to discover what else is to be seen. These must be clearly identifiable from a distance, but hold enough detail and/or texture to look to hold up under close viewing. For the aged look we’re going for here, texture is more important than detail.

For this collage I have chosen a horse and a tiger. I need to cut these out so I can compose them together. Open the image you want to use by selecting File > Open. To cut out the image and isolate it from its surrounding, select the Pen tool on the left hand side of the Tool panel. On the toolbar along the top, select the Paths option.

Step 4 Zoom into the image and using the Pen tool draw a path around the image. To get a better edge to the cutout stay, slightly inside the edge. This way you don’t pick up any background pixels. Close the path.

Step 5 Once you have created a path all the way around, select Window > Paths. Click on the drop down menu on the right of the Path panel and chose Make Selection. In the dialog box that appears, set a Feather Radius of 0.0 and click New Selection. Click OK to create a marque selection around the image.

Step 6 Hit copy (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and return to your print-ready document. Paste your element onto the Canvas (Cmd/Ctrl + V) and place it in the centre of your composition ready to deck other elements around.

Step 7 In the majority of images imported you will have to adjust the contrast to make the image feel richer – and to take advantage of our printer’s deep, glossy blacks. To do this, select Image > Adjustments > Levels. Slide the arrows inwards to add more contrast. For this project, a dirtier, more textured approach is preferable, so it doesn’t matter if the gradients break down – but you may want to keep them looking smooth.With the Pro9500 Mark II having separate matte black, photo black and grey ink tanks, you can be sure that whichever look you want, it’ll appear as you wish.

Repeat steps 3-7 until you have your central elements – more peripheral elements can be cutout and added as you need them.

Step 8 Start to build up a dynamic composition by bringing in strong colour and shapes using geometric forms such as semi-circles, triangles and squares. To create a circle, select the Ellipse tool in the Tool palette, and then Shape Layers from the top toolbar.

Pick a strong colour from the Color Picker. With a traditional four-colour print job we’d stick to 100% cyans, magentas, yellows and blacks for the most striking effect – but the PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II’s 10-ink system gives us much wider scope. With the printer having separate red and green ink tanks, we don’t have to worry about warm shades looking murky.

Step 9 You can add texture to a shape by creating a quick masked folder. To do this draw a vector shape, in the menu bar click Layer > Rasterize > Shape. In the Tool panel select Magic Wand and highlight the shape. In the Layers panel select Create a New Group and then click on Add Layer Mask. This creates a folder the same shape as your vector element. In here you can drop any texture to add depth.

Step 10 To match the circus theme, I’ve used star shapes and intricate vector patterns. An easy way to build these is to create the shapes you require in Illustrator, copy them, move to Photoshop and then paste them into your print document.

Step 11 Once your composition is complete, add a textured background to complete the retro feel, and get it more depth.

I have also added a subtle blue overlay to pull all the different imagery together. To do this, duplicate the background by right-clicking on the layer in the Layers palette and selecting Duplicate Layer. Bring the duplicated layer to the top of the layer order. Set the opacity to 20% and the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Step 12 Once you are happy with the composition, it’s time to create a fantastic-looking print. Select File > Automate > Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Pro to launch Canon’s plug-in. Replacing the Photoshop Print dialog and the printer driver’s settings dialog, this not only makes it printing easier and faster, but also ensures colours are reproduced faithfully. By applying settings in both the Print dialog and driver settings, it’s easy to apply your printer’s colour profile twice and throw your colours out – this plug-in prevents this.

First off, select A3 in the Paper Size drop-down menu so the print will now fit to the whole page.

Step 13 My illustration has a blue background that should bleed fully. To achieve this, simply select Borderless in the Layout panel. If we were creating postcards or flyers, there are a lot of options here to create multiple prints on the same page.

As we are printing our artwork to gallery standard, we need to set the DPI to as high as possible to get the most amount of detail. In the Print Quality drop down menu select High.

Step 14 To create a great print, it’s important to use paper that suits the look you’re going for. These are selected in the Media Type drop down menu. For my print I have chosen Matte Photo Paper as the non-glossy textured quality sits well with the collaged illustration.

Canon has a wide range of high-quality papers to print onto, from ultra-glossy to gallery-style “Photo Rag” and “Museum Etching” papers – and the Pro9500 Mark II has a flat paper path that allows stocks as thick as 1.2mm.

Once all the settings are correct press Print. In the print dialog box that appears just select OK. Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Pro amends all the settings in one location so there is no need to adjust them in the driver. When your artwork has printed, frame and enjoy!

The output showed fantastic tonal range, within the black and white images and yet still retained accurate bright solid colours.

Author :- Ciara Phelan

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