Zebra Gallery, Vienna
Zebra Gallery, Vienna

Why tone your Black & White images ?

Well a slight toning to an image I believe is more inviting and pleasing to the eye.  Sure, the amount of toning really depends on you, it’s a personal thing. There’s no defined rules to it, a suggestion would be to keep the same toning through a project for the stake of consistency – whether that is possible. Often, some images need more and some need less to keep in balance with the rest of the work in the portfolio. That’s where printer presets come in, which if you read on you’ll discover all about it.

I started looking at my workflow recently and how I print especially for fairs, exhibitions and single prints which I sell from my website (yes that was a plug!). Normally I’m printing the work directly out from Photoshop as this offers the best control for printing and not through Aperture or Lightroom. I’m fussy about that for some reason. Well this was all fine and dandy until I decided to print different layouts and sizes for difference kinds of products with lots of images within a project.  Check out Part 1 of this series to see how useful InDesign can be in managing and discovering new avenues of bringing your artwork to the masses.

Now having watched the Lenswork PDF video workshop DVD this rapidly improved my PDF creation skills and started to make me think about using InDesign. First off I have to admit theses are not my own ideas entirely, primarily the influence of Brook Jensen’s love for PDF. Nonetheless I figured anything that can improve and strength my workflow must be a good thing.

To start, I use Aperture as my RAW convertor along with Silver Efex plugin for B&W conversions.  The Silver Efex plugin is available for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop too.  All the necessary B&W conversion, dodge and burn, curves and color filtering is done at this stage. The warm toning and sharpening is left outside of Silver Efex.

By the way a 30 Day trial can be downloaded from Nik Software http://www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro

Warm Toning for the Web

For warm toning for images for the web – not for prints I must mention I use the Sepia control within Aperture which is in my opinion just right for my needs. Normally a value between 0.10 to 0.24 is effective for the look I want to produce. The look matches the output print in paper. When I want to prepare to print, this option is switched off before exporting the image output as PSD for printing.

Warm Toning in Print and Printer Presets

The printer I’m using is a Epson R2400 which offers advanced B&W option within it’s driver,  the machine is equipped with 8 difference inks including Black, Light Black, Light Light Black.

Below is how the Print Dialog box appears for an Epson Photo Stylus printer.

The Hortizontal and Vertical values I use for my toning vary for each image I print

20/20, 4/20, 10/20, 15/20 are values I like to use but this is something you must try yourself to get the ‘look’ you wish to achieve for your artwork.

Once I’ve found the ‘look’ I want I save them as Presets within the Printer Driver.  I have a preset named with the values in the title, like the screenshot below.

So that’s how toning is kept simple and effective. There are other methods of course however I believe keeping the toning at the printer level gives you greater flexibility. It means you can tweak your toning to be consistency through out a body of work in the final print. Also you might want to use a image in another project which may have a different warm tone or none at all.

Finally when the printer is in control of the tone, it will more than likely produce a better results in terms of tonality and the use of the right inks.

So hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to comment your tips and trick on how you print workflow, I would be most interested to hear how others out there print their artwork.

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October 20, 2010

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