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If you have ever refilled your printer with ink, then you've probably already figured out that printer vendors make their money by selling you the printer at near cost and then charging a premium for your consumables. In addition to ink, of course, there's also paper. Your printer manufacturer probably sells many different kinds of paper. And what's nice about these options is that your printer driver will have these different paper types built in as choices when you print. What's more, since the printer manufacturer knows the properties and qualities of both the ink and paper, they can engineer them to work very well together.
At the time of this shooting, both Epson and Canon offer robust collections of very high-quality papers. Epson has got the larger selection, and I've always been very impressed with Epson papers in terms of image quality price and its physical characteristics. But as you may have discovered, there are also lots of third-party papers from a variety of vendors. Crane, Red River, Arches, Moab, Ilford, Hahnemuhle, and others all produce a huge variety of papers engineered specifically for Inkjet Printing.
In fact, once you get start looking, you may find yourself a little overwhelmed by the quantity of options available right now. Here are some things to consider if you want to start exploring more paper options than just those provided by your printer manufacturer. First, most manufacturers of paper are going to offer similar options. They are all going to have a range of matte papers and gloss papers and semi-gloss papers. They're probably also going to have some fine art papers and maybe some canvases. Second, you don't have to b everything.
Most people ultimately find a matte paper that they like and a glossy and maybe a fine art or semi-gloss, and once they have chosen those papers, they tend to just stick with those choices. So you don't need to worry that you're supposed to have some understanding of the subtle differences in a dozen different matte papers and then carefully choose the precise paper that's right for the specific print on. I tend to have two or three papers that I use consistently, and I move from one to another as I decide which finish that I want. But these papers that I've chosen are very different from one another. I don't keep a lot of subtle variations of just matte paper lying around, for example.
As you become more skilled, or as you start pay attention to the paper choice that you see in other prints, then you might want to experiment with some other options. You can always hope for a paper that gives you better blacks or finer details at a lower price. Your printer driver will not have an option for your third-party paper choices. And most drivers don't allow you to add more paper types. However, most paper vendors are now diligent about including instructions for what paper type to select for popular fine are printers. For example, they might include instructions that say if you're using an Epson printer, you should set the paper type to, say, Epson Velvet Fine Art.
These paper settings are usually just let the driver know how thick the paper is and what kind of ink densities can be laid down. Now few vendors such as Hahnemuhle, Epson, and Moab sell paper sample packs. So for about 25 bucks, you get two sheets of every type of paper that they make. This is a great way to experiment with these specific paper types. But it's also a chance to get to see some categories of paper that you might not normally use or have much experience with. Finally, while there are lots of great third-party papers out there, don't give short shrift to your vendor supplied papers.
I hear a lot of people who are resistant to the stock papers, and the fact is that Epson, Canon, and HP labeled fine art papers are very good. In fact, these papers are simply usually third-party papers that the printer vendors have licensed and are selling under their own name. In the rest of this chapter, we're going to look at properties and characteristics that you will want to weigh and consider when you're making a paper choice, whether or not you're looking at a third-party paper or printer vendor supplied paper.
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