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Textured Art Silk - a 'glossy' art paper for UltraChrome inks?
A new paper from Permajet looks to fill a gap
One of the issues with using Matt Black (Mk) ink in Epson UltraChrome Ink printers is the lack of good glossy prints.
Even if you do change over to Photo Black (Pk) then the results can look pretty poor in comparison to glossy prints from dye based printers.
Permajet have a new paper that they say offers a 'Silk' look.
Keith has been checking it out...
Textured Art Silk
The paper is Textured Art Silk (TAS) from Permajet in the UK who provide sample packs of many of their papers.
Their papers are available from many other outlets internationally.
Since this review was written  I've received ImagePrint profiles for Smooth Art Silk -- I've added some comments at the end about this particular paper.
As I've mentioned elsewhere, my standard printer for all of my fine art prints is an Epson 9600.
If you've seen some of my work on this site you'll appreciate that I'm looking to get top quality black and white printing for my Landscape prints.
I use the ImagePrint RIP from ColorByte Software to drive my Epson 9600. It's not cheap (there are cheaper versions of the software for smaller printers) but the black and white printing is superb, with very little of the metamerism or coloured greys that you get when using the normal printer drivers.
Update - I have an Epson 7880 (full printer review) that I use for glossy/lustre finish papers, however I still use this PermaJet paper on my 9600.
One of the problems with the 7600 and 9600 is the need to decide whether to install Matt (Mk) or Photo Black (Pk) ink (the 4000 has both).
I initially tried gloss in the 9600 and got some fairly good prints on the roll of semi-gloss paper that I got with the machine.
The most noticeable problem was what is known as 'gloss differential' where the inks are more shiny than the paper, so highlights look a bit dull.
If you use a very glossy paper then the highlights look too shiny.
It's a problem with pigment based inks, and can contribute to the generally smaller gamut (range of colours) that you get when compared to dye based inks. However I can be fairly sure that my pigment based prints will outlast me (and I intend that being a long time!) whereas dye based prints, if kept away from strong light, humidity, kitchens, old laser printers(ozone) and displayed behind glass. will probably show some initial fading within a few years.
I now have Matt Black in my 9600 and it gives superb black and white prints, but as for colour... sometimes you just want glossy! The colour pictures in the Gallery would be mounted behind glass and their softer colours look fine on matt papers.
However I'm also a commercial photographer and many of the images I take just cry out for the 'Glossy 8x10' look -- they may not always look better, but some clients are more impressed ;-)
A typical example would be this interior picture...
The reflections (leather and glass) need a bit of 'punch' to them to convey some of the textural properties of the objects. It's one of the reasons I used this image and the one below when I was testing the printer profiling capabilities of the Eye One Photo package.
One nice thing about using the ImagePrint RIP is that the makers will profile new papers if you send them samples -- well I should say, I asked Permajet to send samples to ColorByte in Florida ;-) There are now profiles for this paper available in a number of different versions (there are 5 for this paper and Mk ink on the 9600 - for different viewing lighting conditions) There is also one of Colorbyte's specialist 'Gray' profiles for B/W printing.
The TAS paper has a rather odd feel to it, and it is quite obvious which is the ink side, with its slightly 'tacky' feel. Even so, keep it flat in the box or store rolls carefully, since it is quite prone to curl or warp. A friend of mine compared it to 'sized wallpaper' - which I'm sure it isn't, but I know what she meant. It is listed as being 271gm per sq. metre
I printed images using the 'Textured Fine Art - Roll' paper setting (table of IP settings for different paper thicknesses). Now it happens that although the Epson 9600 (about the size of an upright piano) will print single A4 sheets (the size of paper I was testing - it is available in larger sizes) it takes a bit of care in loading the sheets.
Be very careful that the leading edge is not sticking up or this may well happen!
One scrunched sheet of paper.
Notice the mangled corner and ink marks from where the print head assembly caught the paper. The crinkled effect is from where the paper caught on the plastic top cover (behind the paper)
So the moral is.. If you are going to put single sheets of stiff paper into a 9600, stay and watch that it has fed properly rather than go away to get the cup of tea you left in the office next door.
This is the very subjective bit where I say what I thought of my own prints :-)
I've seen some very complete numerical data showing the performance of the paper with both Matte and Photo Black inks, which suggests that you will get slightly better results with the Matte ink (great, since I'm not changing inks again in the near future). However, I'd have to admit that most of the data is way beyond my level of printer profiling and measurement skills, so I've no intention to go into detail here.
The paper takes a heavy ink load and gives good vibrant colours. The IP profiles gave deep rich shadows with lots of detail. When compared with some Epson semi-gloss paper, the print just had more depth. The paper is slightly warmer than the Epson paper.
The paper is lightly textured (hence the name) which may not suit all images or your taste. There is a Smooth Art Silk version that I'd not got profiles for at the time of writing, but my main interest was how the paper looked from a glossiness point of view (see notes at end of article on Smooth).
With Mk ink, dark shadows are slightly less glossy and the highlights also look very slightly duller. You really have to hold the paper at a fine angle to a light source to see this, so it's far better than many other papers.
Other drivers and printers
Permajet supply printer driver settings for other printers and their drivers. I've not tested the results of using the Epson driver with my 9600, but you can safely bet that you won't get the print quality that comes with using a good profile (whether with a RIP or just the standard driver and a profile) If you get a sample of the paper and like it, you owe it to yourself to get a decent profile made.
I tested the paper in my trusty HP K80 All-in-One (dye ink) printer with a profile I'd made with the Eye One Photo package and it gave very pleasing results with all inked areas showing as slightly more glossy than the paper.
I tested the Black and White printing profile that ColorByte supplied, which gave an excellent result, but not what I'd generally be looking for with my landscape work, other images might however work well with it. Permajet also produce a pigment based monochrome ink set which I'm currently testing with a few different papers and drivers, I couldn't get good results from profiling TAS for the QuadToneRIP and wondered if the paper was good for B/W - until I saw the ImagePrint results - just my profiling then? ;-) I've written more about this new ink set in an article on Black and White printing with MonoChromePro and QuadToneRIP.
An interesting paper, quite unlike any other I'd tried. Very good results when used with a good profile. Certainly worth checking out a sample sheet or two if you are using Matt black with your UltraChrome inks. Be careful to store the paper well and keep an eye on it feeding into your printer if there is any curl.
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Note added on Smooth Art Silk
The Smooth Art Silk paper has a very similar coating to the TAS, and as you would suspect is smooth... It is slightly heavier (300gm) and thicker than the TAS, but its ink handling properties are very similar. Another interesting paper that fills a gap in printing with my 9600. If you use it with ImagePrint there are some media settings on the ImagePrint media settings page.
The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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