A few weeks ago I got an Epson R2880 printer. Ever since, learning to operate this fascinating piece of equipment has ensued…
After a false start first using *metal saw horses to make a table with, I purchased a folding plastic/metal table from Canadian Tire for $39.95. If you buy this printer you will need a dedicated space just for the printer and print-outs it produces. And as the ink takes 48 hours to cure you will need a place to lay the prints flat on or to hang them dry from.
The Epson R2880 does not arrive packaged with a USB cord. I purchased a 16 foot USB 2 Gold cord from Staples at $39.95. That same day at Staples I bought a larger 18×24 inch cutting mat for $26.95.
Remember to shake each ink cartridge first before installing it and don’t touch the little green sensor on the cartridge’s side or it will blow up (jk). Shake it while it’s still in the package as touching it could cause colour misreadings. You need to choose whether you want to install Matte Black (MK) or Gloss Black (GK). I chose Gloss Black first. You can not install them both at the same time. There is room for 8 ink cartridges only. Ninety-five percent of the time I will be printing on matte media so the gloss will not get used much and therefore less ink waste when changing from gloss to matte and vice versa. I use an acid free resealable plastic sleeve to store the unused Black cartridge in and thumbtack it to the wall.
It takes about 2.5 minutes for the ink to charge after switching Blacks. You must go into the applications folder and open the Espon Printer Utility to update the status of the printer to tell your computer that you have switched blacks. This will prompt the print menu to show either Matte or Gloss media types when printing. Hence, do NOT touch the green sensor when shaking.
I opened my favorite illustration, adjusted the resolution in Adobe Photoshop and was thankful I had the foresight to scan and create it in larger than 8.5×11 inch size/400dpi format. I tested the Sassy Sea Urchin on 13×19 inch/400dpi first and it printed overly dark and too green/yellow yet it popped off the freaking page as you can see in the pic above while it was printing out!
All my reproductions are printed from pdf files using Preview on a Titanium Powerbook G4, 1Ghz, OSX 10.3.9. There is a small glitch after choosing 13×19 inch size in Page Setup. When you next choose Print a warning pops up forcing you to it choose cancel, crop or scale. I chose crop in hopes that it would print properly and it did. It only does this with 13×19 inch size.
I printed the Sassy Sea Urchin umpteen times using different settings, values and papers. Epson Standard and Gamma 2.2 produced an over-saturated print all of the time on all papers that I tried (see above printer pic). Color Sync produced an image that was much closer to what I was seeing on screen yet appeared greyer and less vivid (below right).
Adobe rgb combined with Gamma 1.8 produced the desired results. I did need to adjust the yellow back by 5 within Photoshop on the original file to rid the Sassy Sea Urchin of the green cast. I achieved a perfect print this way after switching to Matte paper (below left).
Honestly folks open your files and check the CMYK values. The Sassy Sea Urchin’s original file is more green in the background than it is blue yet it prints blue on my HP Photosmart 7260.
I printed the Whimsical Windmill on Epson Premium Semi-Gloss paper and it printed very dark appearing posterized.
Don’t Blame the Printer
Becoming frustrated and wondering why each print was printing overly saturated and off colour but looked incredible I did some research and realized two things; images appear bluer and with less contrast on my monitor. I did something I had not done before; I tilted the monitor back just a bit so that in essence my line of vision was looking more downward. THAT my friends, was the root of many of the issues I was experiencing, and I suspect that many mac and laptop users are having the same problems from a brief QA period I conducted on Twitter. Eighty percent of you see more blue when in actual fact you should be seeing warmer greens and yellow hues.
To add to the over saturation mystery I had manually increased saturation on each of my original scans for printing on the HP Photomsart 7260 as that printer prints light (it only has one black ink cartridge) and more blue hued. No wonder the Epson R2880 was printing to dark (below left). To test this theory I opened the original scan of Grace, saved it as a pdf and printed it out on the Epson. It printed true to life (below right).
After being in the design and illustration industry for over 10 years you learn one thing very fast and that is this; always save your original scans separately and do not save over them with adjustments. Duplicate the scan and work form that. Then when the time comes that you need the original file it will be there.
I opened Day Dreams, a digitally colored ink drawing to test the single sheet feeder using Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper. First, I printed Day Dreams on Staples Photo Supreme Double-Sided Matte Paper on the HP Photosmart 7260 then using the same paper, printed it out on the Epson R2880. Next, I printed Day Dreams on Epson Ultra Premium Matte Paper. And finally printed it on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper using the single sheet feeder attachment.
This is when I first noticed how vivid the magenta ink really is and fell in love with Velvet. The texture on this paper is akin to Arches Watercolour paper. It’s lovely! And you can leave the single sheet feeder in place in behind the regular sheet feeder as long as you are not printing using a roll then it can stay in place.
What does it all mean?
This means that many of the hundreds of files I’ve created over the years will need to be opened, tested on the Epson first and then optimized if necessary, for printing on the Epson.
I keep my laptop at an angle of 20º or more now rather than 10º. Another factor was this was the first time I ever printed my art on Lustre or Glossy stock which does have a tendency to saturate colour more.
I’m hoping to test out the canvas roll later this week. And I can’t wait to print a few ink drawings on the Velvet paper to hand colour individually as the prints the Espon R2880 produces are water resistant. I’m also on the hunt for some vinyl to test print on.
This is the first time in my life that I have had the ability to print larger than 8.5×11 inch size and on thick media. The Epson R2880 can handle up to 1.3mm thickness. I’m blown away by this printer. It really is easy to use once you take the time to learn how to use it efficiently. I stepped away from it at times as I did become angry at the over-saturation issues mentioned above. Take the time to find the solutions that work for you. I did and feel all the more knowledgeable because of it.
How much ink does it use?
And these are the remaining ink levels left after printing five 13×19 prints and nineteen 8.5×11 inch prints; 20 of which are highly saturated remember.
*The metal saw horse legs will be going to my brother for Christmas
In the interest of full disclosure, I received this printer and supplies (ink and paper) from Epson to test. If I liked it, I got to keep it and the supplies. I was not asked to write either a positive or negative review; only an honest review using my own words which I believe I did. In the end, I did decide to keep the printer and supplies .