Prints that Win: Dennis the Menace

Award Winning Print

Cheri MacCallum, owner of Art by Cheri, Idaho Falls, Idaho, is one of those talented few who have had the honor of winning a LexJet Sunset Award two years in a row.

Unfortunately, we can’t show you MacCallum’s latest winning image; she’s entering it in a national competition and it’s not a good idea to let it leak out to the public. There are affiliated jurors who might see it, who would then have to disqualify themselves from judging.

We had the same issue last year following the PPA Western District competition. The good news is that we can now reveal last year’s winning Sunset Award winner from the PPA Western District: Dennis the Menace.

MacCallum says Dennis the Menace, a portrait photographed in New Orleans, was likely an award winner in the Portrait category for three factors: expression, lighting and painting. MacCallum is a masterful artist in Corel Painter who also paints for other photographers.

“I work on it in Photoshop and re-touch it, take it into Corel Painter and bring it back into Photoshop to prepare it for printing,” says MacCallum. “When I enter print competitions I don’t think about awards, I think about improving myself and pushing the envelope. If the judges think it’s worthy, all the better. Any good photography makes a good competition print as well: posing, lighting, color, composition, subject material… the whole nine yards has to come together.”

MacCallum adds that for competition, the print itself could spell the difference between winning and losing. For this image, MacCallum printed the image on LexJet 8 Mil ImagePro Gloss with her Canon iPF8300 and applied it to art board.

“I called LexJet and told my rep what I was doing and that I didn’t need anything really thick and heavy, or what I normally provide my clients: fine art paper and canvas. Based on that, we came to the conclusion that ImagePro Gloss would be a good fit. Print presentation is definitely one of the elements they look for, and this print material worked well,” adds MacCallum.

Matte Black Ink: The Right Profile and Media Type

Printing with Matte Black and Photo Black InksIf you’re considering upgrading to the latest aqueous ink printers from Canon, Epson or HP, consider no more. Reports from the field have shown that these next-generation models print up to twice as fast and use less ink than their predecessors.

They also use additional ink channels in the printing process, which increases the color gamut. As part of these expanded ink sets, all the latest printers now include Matte Black and Photo Black channels. While HP and Canon printers can switch from Matte Black to Photo Black on the fly, Epson printers require you to purge the line to switch inks, so keep that in mind as you switch between the two if you have an Epson printer.

Because of this expanded ink set, it’s necessary to pay close attention to the profile or media type being used, and to use a matte material profile/media type with matte materials, and a satin/luster or gloss material profile/media type with gloss materials. Note: If you’re using a RIP like Onyx, you’ll choose a media profile, which will determine which black ink is used. If you’re printing through the driver, you choose a profile as well, but it’s the media type that will choose the black ink channel that will be used.

Matte Black provides an image quality advantage as it yields much better density, which works extremely well on backlits. However, Matte Black ink is not compatible with all media. If you choose the wrong profile/media type, the Matte Black ink will wipe right off, even after the print is completely dry. This is especially true with media that has a microporous inkjet coating, such as LexJet 8 Mil ImagePro Gloss.

On the other hand, using Photo Black ink on a matte material will result in lower density in the dark areas and a more washed-out look, though Photo Black ink will have better dry times and durability, regardless of the material. Photo Black is more water-resistant and is best for unlaminated outdoor applications.

On large production runs, a lot of print shops use a standard generic profile/media type like Heavy Weight Coated, which is a bond paper profile that lays down less ink. If this profile/media type is used on gloss materials, it will activate the Matte Black channel, which is largely incompatible with gloss materials and will not absorb into these types of coatings.

A good generic profile/media type for matte materials is Heavy Weight Coated. A good one for gloss materials is Glossy Photo, which, like Heavy Weight Coated, uses less ink. If you have any questions about the right profile or media type to use for the material, contact a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538.