Can you recommend a good paper to proof my work with? Its a question we do get quite often. Some of those that follow my blog might have heard me say in the past that not all papers are created equal. Throw in canvas with that even though canvas is not a paper. What this means is you can potentially have some differences in how prints look from paper to paper depending if you are using the same image file.
This used to be a bigger problem in the past with the type of printing we do however with the improvements in the type of printers we use you will not see as big a difference except under that rare instance you have an image that is has colors which are out of gamut. Out of gamut colors are tones or hues which the printer is not capable of matching when printed on a particular paper. This is because the ink absorption level, white point of the paper and even the texture of the paper can alter how light is reflected off the print leading to a difference in color appearance.
Because of this the printer will come as close to matching the color values of the file as possible. Photoshop and Lightroom have some gamut warnings options which let you review this but normally only the most color mathing conscience will delve into this. But for most of our customers, these differences from prints on paper to paper are acceptable. For the untrained eye in many cases the prints look almost exactly alike. But if you truly want to see the differences from paper to paper I would recommend having the same image file printed on different papers. For everyone else, we have three papers which are ideal for proofing.
With papers you really have two options for a finish. Gloss or matte. Most artists tend to gravitate to the matte. Unlike your typical matte photo paper such as you see at most photo labs or even with our Fuji matte paper, it will be a true matte surface. Photographers favor both matte and gloss with slighter emphasis on gloss. When I refer to gloss I am usually referring to any level of gloss whether it be a satin or a high gloss like our metallic paper.
For matte paper prints and matte canvas probably the best paper to proof with will be our Archival Matte Paper. The true matte surface and bright white point makes it ideal. Its literally our most popular because it is also one of our most economical. With the wide color gamut and pretty darn good d-max (depth of black) its the preferred paper to proof with if you plan on printing on any of our fine art papers that are matte or our matte canvas.
For those that print on our gloss canvas and even our metallic paper the choice is simple. Go with the Satin Luster paper. Its priced the same as the Archival Matte Paper and has the benefit of having a small level of glossieness. The main advantage of a gloss or semi gloss surface is the d-max level which for some photographers and artists is very important.
There is one last paper I want to bring up. I won't recommend using the Satin Luster Paper as a way to proof your work before printing on the Artisan Canvas which is has a semi gloss appearance. This is simply because the Artisan Canvas, while our most economical canvas, is printed on a different type of printer with not quite the same color range the others canvas and papers have. Instead proof those prints go with the poster paper. This is printed on the same type of printer as the Artisan Canvas.
Sure you can proof on our Fuji papers which are also economical but keep in mind that these do not have any where the color range we can get with the fine art papers, gloss and matte canvas. While some of our customers have tied to use these papers for proofing frequently they end up re-proofing on one of the papers mentioned above because the color range on our giclee and canvas prints tend to be much higher leading to greater differences.
Proofing can be a process and there are better and more economical ways such as soft proofing, but I get it that not everyone has the tools or ability to soft proof and are more comfortable with a hard copy proof to compare with. For those I hope the choices above will help you in pursuit of the best print possible.