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Creating Artistic Digital Prints on Unusual Substrates

Posted May 20, 2020 by X-Rite Color

As digital printing continues to grow, many printmakers are moving beyond traditional media to create artwork on substrates like wood, acrylic, textiles, and backlit materials. While the results can be beautiful, achieving exceptional print quality on these materials can be challenging.


Enter the i1Pro 3 Plus. With its large aperture, polarization and transmissive capabilities, this new member of X-Rite’s i1Pro Family can create color profiles for substrates that are otherwise difficult to measure. 


Two companies that are using the i1Pro 3 Plus with amazing results are Onsight and Four Hands Art Studio in Austin, Texas. Today, we tell their story. 


Creating Artistic Prints on Unusual Substrates with i1Pro 3 Plus X-Rite Blog


The Challenge of Unique Substrates

Four Hands has been creating beautiful and unique prints for years. Although they have an experienced eye for print quality, experimenting with different types of materials using different print processes can yield mixed results. Textured and shiny substrates have been challenging to measure, and backlit profiles have led to disappointing print quality in the past. 


In the end, Four Hands shied away from using many promising materials because they couldn’t achieve the print quality they demand. 


The Importance of Calibration and Profiling

Independent print quality consultant Scott Martin has been working with Four Hands to achieve optimal print quality with minimal ink waste for many years. Martin developed his own methodology for setting the ink restrictions, linearization, and total ink limiting calibration steps that happen before profiling. 

Creating Artistic Prints on Unusual Substrates with i1Pro 3 Plus X-Rite Blog


Says Martin, “ChromaMax provides guidance for every step of the printer calibration and profiling process. Getting those three calibration steps perfect before making the profile is important, and will result in a better profile and final print quality.” 


You also need the right tools.


Pushing the Boundaries with i1Pro 3 Plus

Using the i1Pro 3 Plus, Martin has helped Four Hands achieve excellent print quality on materials that were previously difficult to work with. “The i1Pro 3 Plus allowed them to reach the print quality needed to start using exotic materials that were previously considered ‘not good enough.’ Now they can explore new processes on hard-to-measure materials.”


i1Pro 3 Plus measuring


"The i1Pro 3 Plus compliments my i1iSis 2 XL and i1Pro 3 (standard aperture) for projects where the large aperture, polarized, and transmissive measurements have additional benefit. I achieve better measurements and print quality with fabrics, canvases, plastics and backlit materials with the i1Pro 3 Plus" says Martin.


Four Hands Founder Joseph Garcia explains: “We are, at our core, a Product Development company, constantly experimenting, testing new materials and presentations, trying to reinvent what’s possible. At the same time, we demand extreme print quality with exquisite shadow detail. Scott Martin’s work with the i1Pro 3 Plus has fit perfectly into this mindset."


Creating Beautiful Prints on Unique Substrates

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s a look at what Four Hands and Martin are doing with the help of the i1 Family.


Creating Artistic Prints on Unusual Substrates with i1Pro 3 Plus X-Rite Blog

Four Hands’ Production Manager Chris Morgan (left) works with Martin to create a transparency profile using the i1Pro 3 Plus on a light table. The i1Pro 3 Plus was also used to take spot measurements of an original oil painting for the quality control of reproduction work. 


Creating Artistic Prints on Unusual Substrates with i1Pro 3 Plus X-Rite Blog

Four Hands utilizes latex and UV printers to print onto rigid materials like walnut pictured here. Onsight linearized the white ink channel to print this photo with impressive extreme shadow detail using only white ink. On the right, the X-Rite i1iO for i1Pro 3 Plus scanning table automates the process of measuring a reflective profiling target to create a profile for an upcoming project. 


Creating Artistic Prints on Unusual Substrates with i1Pro 3 Plus X-Rite Blog

Four Hands' Creative Director and Production Manager hold a transmissive print to the window to evaluate final print quality. New transmissive color science in X-Rite’s i1Profiler software allows them to achieve deeper blacks, more neutral grays, and better color saturation than previously thought possible. 


About the X-Rite i1Pro 3 Plus

The large aperture i1Pro 3 Plus can deliver improved measurements on many substrates, including vinyl, fabrics, transparent films, corrugated, and back-lit for improved print quality. The polarization option eliminates the reflections that can otherwise make it difficult to measure textured and shiny surfaces. The transmissive measurement mode allows for the calibration and profiling of backlit materials. Learn more.


About Four Hands Art Studio

Four Hands is an art, printing, and framing studio that offers high-end work with exquisite print quality. They have a focus on presentation and begin their process with the final product in mind. They buy raw materials and do their own fabrication to create products that don’t exist elsewhere.  Learn more.


About Onsight Consulting

Scott Martin consults on location to help print professionals, photographers, pro labs, artists, designers, museums, archivists, and printer and media manufacturers achieve optimize print quality and workflow efficiencies. He’s been working with the i1 Family since the original i1Pro was introduced. Learn more.

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