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A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

From the outset, Lightroom has been much more friendly for printing than Photoshop. Nevertheless, some users still experience difficulties achieving consistent results when using ICC profiles specific to their favourite paper.

Compatible with Lightroom 2 and higher.

 

Notes:

  1. Since I no longer have access to a computer that uses Windows, this tutorial is specific to macOS.

  2. The printer driver screen shots used throughout this tutorial are for the Epson SureColor SC-P700. However, most recent Epson models will use similar driver settings.

  3. While all Epson print drivers install a set of ICC media profiles they are usually contained within an installer package that Lightroom Classic and Photoshop may not have direct access to. This tutorial from Conrad Chavez provides detailed instruction on how to make the ICC printer profiles visible - Printer profiles missing on macOS: A permanent solution

Print Setup Step-by-Step

This tutorial will concentrate on what is known as application color management, which basically means that the ICC profile associated with a particular paper/ink combination must be selected in Lightroom Classic rather than the print driver itself. Additionally, since the tutorial is intended to help both new and existing Lightroom Classic users I will also include some of the basics associated with Page Setup and saving Print Templates.

With print templates (sometimes referred to as print presets) you can avoid having to configure the driver every time you want to make a print.

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Figure 1 - Lightroom Classic Print Module

Step 1 - Page Setup

Regardless of printer model, paper, ink, etc your first step is to decide on the paper size and orientation of the print.

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Figure 2 - Page Setup

  • In the Print module click on Page Setup button (figure 2, shown above will appear).

  • Ensure that the correct printer model is selected.

  • Select the Paper Size that you intend to print on.

  • Select the correct orientation (above example shows landscape to match with image in figure 1).

  • Ensure that Scale is set to 100% (for best quality do not scale images in page setup).

  • Click the OK button when satisfied that everything is correctly set.

Step 2 - Print Job Setup

Figure 3 below shows how the Print Job panel looks before a profile has been selected (i.e. color management is handled by the printer). This is the step where you configure Lightroom Classic so that it handles the image to print color management. As noted above this is more commonly referred to as application color management and requires the user to select an ICC paper

 Profile and Rendering Intent.

Note: For the purposes of this tutorial I will assume that your Print Job panel is configured as shown in figure 3 below.

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Figure 3 - Color Managed by Printer

  • Click the pop-up labelled Profile: Managed by Printer. The drop-down menu will either contain multiple ICC profiles or just Managed by Printer and Other. If no profiles are listed you will need to select Other, then choose from those available in the ColorSync folder (figure 4 shows an example of the profiles available to me). You MUST tick the profiles before they become available in Lightroom then click OK to close the list.

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Figure 4 - Available ICC Profiles

  • Next you configure the output settings to match your particular requirements (see figure 5 below).

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Figure 5 - Choosing the output settings

  • Set the Print Resolution to On or Off. Typically, the default value is 240 ppi, but you can type in any value you like. For example, with the Epson SC-P700/900 a value of 240 ppi tends to be preferred as it's the native resolution of these particular printers. When the Print Resolution is Off Lightroom will vary the resolution of the original photo and scale the print to the correct size without up/down sampling. When set to 'On' Lightroom will maintain the print resolution at the setting shown (e.g. 240 ppi) and scale the print by up/down sampling the print. In general, it is best left Off.

  • Set the Print Sharpening to your preferred setting (i.e. Off, Low, Standard or High). The actual amount of output or sharpening applied to the print will be determined automatically by Lightroom Classic, and will depend upon the media type and print resolution.

  • Select the Media Type (i.e. Glossy or Matte). Glossy is best suited to: glossy, semi-gloss, lustre or Baryta type papers. Matte is best suited to matte, rag and other rough surface papers.

  • If your printer driver supports 16 Bit Output then it's usually worth switching this mode to On.

  • Select the ICC Profile that you intend to use. In above example, I've selected the ICC profile for Epson Premium Lustre Photo Paper.

  • Select the rendering intent  Relative or Perceptual. For most situations Relative is likely to produce the best results, but it's always worth making a print with Perceptual to see if it improves anything. Some users prefer Perceptual for portraits as it tends to produce more pleasing skin tones.

Step 3 - Print Settings

Next up, are the steps in the procedure that appears to cause the most confusion. So, follow the steps carefully.

  • Select the Lightroom Print Settings button (figure 6)  to open the print driver (figure 7).

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Figure 6 - Print settings

So, now to open the only panel within the Epson Print dialog that needs to be configured (i.e. Print Settings)

  • Select Print Settings from the pop-up menu that normally displays Layout (figure 8 below should open).

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Figure 7 - Print Settings Options

  • Select the Media Type that matches with the profile selected in step 2 above.

  • Check that Color Settings should be switched to Off (No Color Adjustment). This option is critical in so far as Off will prevent the print driver carrying out any color matching, instead leaving it to Lightroom. With most Epson printers drivers, it will be set to this option automatically, and greyed out.

  • Print Quality and any other model specific options (e.g. speed, detail, etc) can be set to match whatever you normally use. For best quality it's you can choose that the highest print resolution is selected whilst at same time leaving High Speed off. Depending on the media type selected earlier Finest Detail should be set to On. Note that the Print Quality drop-down menu may need to be set to Quality Options for the view shown in Figure 8.

  • Click the Save button when all the options are set correctly. This will ensure that the settings are stored and ready for creating a Print Template.

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Figure 8 - Final Print Settings

Step 4 - Print Templates

For many Lightroom Classic users  Print Templates are a real boon, but for others their behaviour is a complete mystery and often leads to frustration. This section of the tutorial is intended to help clear up the mystery and maybe reduce the frustration.

Print templates can be used to store the: Page Size and Layout Design, Print Resolution and Sharpening settings, Lightroom Classic Color Management settings, and Printer Driver settings.

  • Having selected the Save button in step 3 above you should now press Cmd+N keys to create a new print template (you can also find this as an option on the Lightroom Classic Print menu at the top of your screen).

  • When the New Template dialog appears insert a descriptive name (e.g. SC-P700 - A4 Premium Lustre - Landscape).  This example includes the printer model, page size, media and orientation. Also, note that you should leave the template location (i.e. Folder) at the default, which is User Templates.

 

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Figure 9 - New Template

  • Select the Create button and the new template should appear within the User Templates section of the Template Browser on the left side of Print module window as shown in figure 10 below.

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Figure 10 - Lightroom Print Templates

Warning - any changes (inadvertent or deliberate) that you subsequently make on the right side panels will override the active print template. Fortunately, you can easily determine which, if any, print template is active because it will be highlighted in the Template Browser. If none are highlighted make sure that you select the appropriate template before making a print.

Tip: To update an existing print template with new settings you should Ctrl+click the name in the Template Browser, then choose Update with current settings from the context menu.

If everything has been setup correctly you should find making a print should now be a relatively straight forward process:

  1. Select the photo or batch of photos that you wish to print.

  2. Switch to Print module.

  3. Select a print template from Template Browser, this will automatically configure the page size and layout, profile, rendering intent, sharpening and driver settings for you.

  4. Click the Lightroom Print One button. This button by-passes the main print dialog and will print only one copy of each select photo.



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