Prints that Win: She’s a Dream

She's a Dream by Melissa Thompson

Melissa Thompson, owner of Pistachio Alley Photography in Cody, Wyo., is known far and wide for her stellar baby photography. Though it’s not all she does, it’s her specialty.

Each year she highlights her specialty at competition. This image, She’s a Dream, was entered in both the Wyoming and Montana Professional Photographer competitions. At the Montana competition, She’s a Dream wowed the judges and she picked up a Sunset Print Award.

Printed at Pistachio Alley on Sunset Bright Velvet Rag 315g with a Canon iPF8300, Thompson says, “The judges for both state competitions liked the presentation, the paper it was printed on and the print quality. The general consensus was how the image worked well with the Sunset Velvet paper and how the tones were muted, not showing a true black, giving it a dreamlike quality.”

To create the image, Thompson started with a concept she came up with last year for competition, but says she shelved it because “it just wasn’t working out right.” Everything came together this year, however, with the right subject and the right clouds.

The baby is sleeping on a bed of clouds that Thompson created from a composite of four different cloud formations. Thompson photographs compelling cloud formations and keeps them in folder for use with different images.

“This is three or four different cloud images I brought together, taking sections out, and warping them: bending them around the baby so that it looks like a little bed. For the photo, it’s a studio image on a bean bag and I made sure the lighting worked with the clouds I put together,” Thompson explains. “You look at the lighting patterns and make sure the shadows and highlights are going in the same direction so it doesn’t look out of place.”

Thompson based the studio lighting on the clouds she had already chosen so that the baby blends in just right with the clouds, making the image appear real, rather than a composite. In addition to knowing how to studio-light for composites, Thompson adds, “Using the little nuggets of information learned from a few Masters I admire and impeccable printing and paper quality brought this image to fruition and made an incredible art piece that the family of this baby will cherish forever.”

Step 2 in Color Management: Printer and Media Color Gamut

In Step 1 of the color management to-do list we discussed how the quality of your monitor impacts the precision of your output. Step 2 of 3 focuses on understanding how your printer and the inkjet media choices affect color.

Print accuracy doesn’t rely solely on your use of a custom profile and an accurate monitor, though these two components guide you toward the closest possible result. There are two additional variables that can have a big impact on the types of colors you can hit with any printer…

The first is the gamut of the printer. How an ink is formulated in order to print a Coca-Cola red or a Pepsi blue, for example, may differ slightly from technology to technology.

These days I field a lot of questions about choosing between an 8-color system and a 12-color system.  Or, should I use the 9-color or the 11-color printer? Is there a noticeable difference between them?

The answer is yes, there is a noticeable difference any time you add colors. However, the next question I usually follow up with is, “What are you using the printer to print?”

When considering printing technology, there are printers made for higher-speed production (HP Z5200, Canon S Series, Epson T Series, to name a few) that can print a sellable photographic image, but would not be the ideal to use for an artist, photographer or fine art reproduction house. These printers have fewer inks, which cuts down on gamut but improves on speed in most cases.

If you’re in the market for a printer, talk to a LexJet customer specialist and explain the market you are in. We will make sure that you are using the right equipment for the job.

If you are seeing a color that is in your photograph or art piece that you just can’t nail with your printer, it may be out of gamut for the printer or out of gamut for the media you chose to print to.

If you’ve calibrated the monitor, make sure your printer is running at 100 percent capacity, that you’ve soft-proofed the image with the chosen rendering intent, and used a specific printer profile to print. If it still doesn’t portray what’s on your screen, then either of the above mentioned may be at fault.

Now I just spit out a bunch of jargon that may be foreign to you, so click on the links to the tutorials here to find out more…

Download and install ICC Profiles:



How to Softproof before Printing using Photoshop:

How to print using ICC Profiles (find your printer and computer combination):

Color gamut difference between a gloss and matte photo paper.
Figure 1 shows the difference in gamut between a gloss and a matte paper in the high, mid and low range of color (top to bottom). The gloss paper is our Sunset Gloss Photo Paper (red line) and the matte our Premium Archival Matte Paper (green line) as profiled on the Canon IPF8400 with the X-Rite DTP70. Click on the image for a larger version.

You can’t do anything to increase the gamut of the printer, but you can make the right decision based on your needs at the time you purchase the equipment. Making sure you use the right equipment for the type of work you are doing will dramatically increase the quality of your print.

Our second extremely important variable to understand is the media with which you choose to print. The less reflective the media, the less light that reflects back into your eyes, and therefore, the lower the gamut and detail your print will realize (see Figure 1).

Artists have come to love matte watercolor papers and canvas, yet always demand the best color on those surfaces. This is where the owner or production manager at a fine art reproduction house runs into the biggest conflict.

The reflectivity of your media is not the only aspect of the printable supplies that affects color outcome.  White point can change your gamut as well. The brighter the white point, the more gamut you’ll pick up, not to mention an increase in that lovely term the experts like to use, Dmax, which is the darkest measurable value your printer-media combination can hit.

For canvas, Sunset Select Gloss Canvas has the highest dynamic range and color gamut of the canvas offerings LexJet produces. The highest-gamut matte canvas is our Sunset Select Matte Canvas, which has a very punchy white base. Partnering the Sunset Coating line with Sunset Select Matte Canvas has been a very popular choice amongst artists and photographers.

If you are trying to appease the artist crowd who prefer fine art papers, the highest-range matte paper is Sunset Fibre Matte (a very smooth bright-white fiber cellulose paper). If you need 100% cotton with a smooth finish, Sunset Hot Press Rag will be close behind.

If they would like texture on their cotton paper our latest addition to the line is Sunset Bright Velvet Rag.  This paper has the highest Dmax of our cotton line and prints very elegant-looking velvet-textured prints.

On the photographic side of media options, all of our bright white glossy and semi-glossy fibre-based papers put out a phenomenal range. They are all meant to emulate different versions of old-style air dried chemical bath papers that film photographers were used to exposing in the darkroom. These papers include Sunset Fibre Gloss, Sunset Fibre Elite and Sunset Fibre Satin.

Our newest paper in this category is Sunset Fibre Rag, which is 100% cotton and has a warm tone to the base. Even though it is warm in tone, the range is very large and the texture is very fitting to that style of paper.

For RC photo-based paper replicas, nothing tops the gamut of the Sunset Photo Gloss Paper. It reflects the most light, has a high-gloss wet-looking surface like one you would receive from a photo lab providing chemical-style glossy prints.

Also ever so popular for printers looking for a beautiful thick luster paper (e-surface) is our Sunset Photo eSatin Paper. This paper has a very cool white point and the surface is the most popular amongst the RC-emulating class of papers.

LexJet will provide you with the ICC profiles for every media above mentioned. If we do not list one here for your technology we will happily make one for you free of charge! Next time, we’ll tackle Step 3 in the color management to-do list: understanding ICC Profiles and settings. In the meantime, feel free to call us any time at 800-453-9538 with questions.

New Canvas Maximizes Quality for Solvent, Latex and UV-Curable Printers

New Era Portfolio Print on Sunset by Fredrix
Fine art print on Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV by New Era Portfolio, Austin, Texas.


For print shops looking to maximize the quality of their canvas production output, LexJet and Fredrix co-developed Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV. The new canvas was designed to maximize image quality when using solvent, low-solvent, latex and UV-curable inks.

“Best canvas to date. Our color came out perfect; we have never seen a truer white hue before.  We have received numerous customer compliments, so they can definitely see the difference. Thank you for helping our business produce the highest quality at the best price,” says Zach Gardynski, Director of Operations, New Era Portfolio, Austin, Texas.

The poly-cotton canvas has a traditional two-over-one weave with a bright-white, pH-neutral, acid-free base for consistent, high-quality printing, whether it’s a production run of 1,000 décor canvas wraps or a custom fine-art print.

“Canvas print production is a high-growth market segment. Our goal is to help print shops with solvent, latex and UV-curable printers maximize their success in the canvas market. This new canvas, with its bright white point and consistent print surface, is designed to do just that,” says Jaimie Mask, LexJet product manager.

Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV is easy to work with during production and post-production: it won’t crack during stretching and can be mounted and framed. Now available from LexJet’s North American Distribution Network, Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV comes in 30″, 36″, 54″, 60″ and 64″ widths. and the Merger of Technology and Creativity

Inkjet Canvas Decor by MyPix2, an Artful Color brand, reproduces photos and fine art using a variety of LexJet Sunset inkjet media, including Sunset Reserve Matte Canvas, for photographers, fine artists and consumers.


Is creative engineer an oxymoron, like military intelligence? You might think so, but think again. Damon Rando, owner of, an Artful Color Inc. brand in Apex, N.C., breaks the mold in more ways than one.

Rando studied both computer engineering and fine art photography in college, inspired by his mentor uncle, who was also an engineer and photographer.

Coating Canvas at MyPix2Rando had his own brush with military intelligence when he worked for the Air Force in weapons system testing. It was one stop along an interesting career path that eventually led to the formation of his fine art and photography reproduction company that included a stint at Waterford III making modifications to the control room at Three Mile Island and, most importantly, Apple.

“I got fed up with military bureaucracy, packed up, moved to California and went to work for Apple in engineering, and then in channel marketing where all my big accounts were in the emerging desktop publishing and photo editing fields that were starting on the Mac,” says Rando.

Canvas Gallery Wraps at MyPix2Rando worked his way through Apple for ten years, finding his way from engineering to color and how to best produce it for print. Rando and his team at Apple introduced ColorSync 2.0 and the ICC standard in the mid-’90s.

“During my last four years at Apple, my job was to get adoption of the ICC standard as the color business development executive for the U.S. sales force. I worked with People magazine, Time Inc., Simon and Schuster, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery and others to introduce them to and teach them about modern color management,” recalls Rando.

While he was at Apple, Rando started “tinkering,” as he puts it, with inkjet printing. Using the early ENCAD inkjet printer, he began putting together the pieces and parts of a color managed system for wide-format inkjet.

Epson Inkjet Printer at MyPix2“The whole color management process was one of the more technical aspects of the computer world to explain to people, which is why I was moved into the sales group supporting them because color management was so hard to communicate. I wasn’t about to pitch people on something that wasn’t a developed workflow so I dug into the best practices for color management,” says Rando. “Within that system in the early days, many of the applications didn’t have implementation inside the workflow; there were so many pieces that weren’t put together the way they are today. As an example, in the inkjet world, black build, even today, is a challenge with pigmented inks. When I was doing this in my house I was uncovering a lot of the shortcomings and working with the vendors to improve the process.”

In the early years of the 21st Century, Rando launched a fine art reproduction business on the side while he worked in the photo personalization group at Kodak with the NEXPRESS.

Gallery Wrap Frames at MyPix2“I learned a ton about the photo market, and saw where silver halide was not the future of printing and that inkjet was the future. I figured it wouldn’t be long before production equipment and workflow would replace silver halide, but I thought it would happen a lot sooner than it did,” says Rando. “There is a lot of investment in the silver halide process, which slowed down the transition, plus it’s very low cost per square foot.”

Rando began researching and testing inkjet papers and pushed the highest performing and most affordable papers into the market. He was invested in inkjet early on, employing a battery of Epson printers for his work.

A break came in August 2010 when Rando pitched Living Social on a daily deal to market photos on canvas to consumers, leading to the launch of Artful Color’s consumer brand, MyPix2Canvas. Rando developed an e-commerce site and a production workflow for the brand and started selling coupons regionally.

Production at MyPix2“Within a few months we moved production out of my home and into an 1,800 square-foot building at a business park. Three months later we got our second building, three months later our third building, and three months later our fourth building. During that time we became a national deal on Living Social and were featured on the Today Show twice as a part of Jill’s Steals and Deals. In August of 2012 we moved into a large facility and occupied 13,000 feet of a 21,000 square foot facility, and just this last month we took over the remaining 8,000 square feet.”

To cap it off, Artful Color recently took delivery of Epson’s new SureLab, a “dry lab” production machine that utilizes a special formulation of archival dye inks and is designed to replace the chemical process for producing portrait-sized photo prints.

Epson SureLab
The Epson SureLab, of which’s owner Damon Rando says regarding the dry lab’s output: “The amount of color gamut, tonal range and image fidelity is like nothing else I’ve ever seen.”

“The incredible thing about the SureLab is the archival dye inks it uses, instead of pigmented inks. The amount of color gamut, tonal range and image fidelity is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. We’ve refined the pigmented inkjet printing process, but the one area that still has some issues is that the five percent dark tinted gray tones have bronzing issues; you can still maintain the detail but you can’t quite maintain the richness of the blacks in that toning. The SureLab blows that away; it’s absolutely stunning,” says Rando. “What we can tell so far is that there are no shortcomings with the SureLab in image fidelity. The entire tonal range in every shading and the richness and vibrancy of every color in the rainbow is stunning.”

The SureLab complements the already tightly-managed wide format inkjet color management workflow where Artful Color uses a blend of LexJet Sunset inkjet media.

Canvas at MyPix2“We look at LexJet as one of our secret ingredients. I’ve worked with LexJet for about 14 years now. The great thing about LexJet is that they have distribution across the country, the finest media at an affordable price and they meet our high-volume demand while maintaining quality,” says Rando.

With the launch of the new website, will offer fine prints and posters in addition to its popular canvas products. “We’re the modern day photo lab; the photo lab of the future: totally eco friendly with no chemicals. It’s environmentally sustainability in fine art reproduction that offers customers the best quality prints,” adds Rando.

Home Improvement with a Canvas Gallery Wrap Collage

Canvas Wrap CollageOne of the most important things you can do from a sales and marketing standpoint, particularly in our obviously visual market, is to show potential clients how they can display their images.

You can say “canvas,” for instance, and people generally like the thought of images printed on canvas, but they don’t necessarily know how to translate it to their particular space, whether it’s a home, office or retail space.

That’s why Andy Wredberg at AW Artworks is constantly showcasing new and unique ways of displaying prints at his studio, and most recently at his home. Besides, Wredberg’s wife recently asked him why he was doing all this cool stuff for clients, but nothing for their home.

So, Wredberg did a family portrait photo shoot at Wisconsin’s state capitol in Madison. Wredberg’s also a talented photographer who was able to sneak into some of the photos with a remote shutter release.

Wredberg then took the images and created an approximately 6′ x 6′ canvas gallery wrap collage from the photo shoot printed on LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas. It consists of nine pieces: three 8x13s, two 10x20s, a 14×20, a 14×29, and two 20x30s.

“I’ve seen some collages online, but never tried doing one that extensively. People love canvas, but they have a hard time picturing how it would work for them and incorporate it. Seeing a collage on a wall gives them a better vision of something they could do with it,” says Wredberg, who posted the project on his Facebook page.

New Sunset Pearlescent Metallic Paper Choice from LexJet

LexJet Sunset Inkjet MediaLexJet has introduced a new choice in metallic photo papers with Sunset Pearlescent Metallic Paper 300g. It was designed to complement LexJet’s Hot One Award-winning Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, which has become a mainstay for photographers and imaging pros.

The difference between the two Sunset Photo Metallic Papers is in the weight, cost and finish. The new paper is slightly heavier and thicker at 300g and 11.5 mils, costs about 40 percent less, and has more of a pearlescent finish than its predecessor, which provides a more-traditional golden-metallic sheen.

In addition to its use as an ideal photo paper for fine photography, portrait and competition prints, it also works well as an eye-catching display medium for high-end retail and display graphics, and home and office décor prints.

It is scratch-resistant, lays flat for ease of use in print production and dries instantly. Its weight and thickness make it more durable alternative to glossy photo papers.

Compatible with the latest printer technology from Canon, Epson and HP, its super-wide color gamut ensures accurate color reproduction and an amazing tonal range.

Now you have a choice in metallic paper. To find out which Sunset Metallic Paper best suits your next project, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.