When printing black and white photographs with an Epson Printer, one of the best choices you can make is to use the Advanced Black and White mode (ABW) mode.
The Epson Advanced Black and White driver in my opinion gives deeper blacks, is more linear, produces less bronzing and has excellent longevity.
In Photoshop, to use the Advanced Black and White driver, we have to instruct it to let the printer manage the colours which will automatically disables the option to choose a paper profile.
One advantage of this approach is that any values you see on screen are passed directly to the print driver will no alteration. This means that if we have a screen pixel value on of RGB (23,23,23) then this is exactly what Photoshop will sent to the printer.
Well, Not quite. All papers have different characteristics such as the amount of ink they can absorb and reflect off the surface. Due to these paper characteristics, the shade of grey we see on our calibrated screen may not reflect the shade of grey we see in the print.
By adding a custom curve to the image just before we print, we can produce a closer match to the shade of grey we see on screen to the shade of grey we see in print.
Creating The Custom Curve
If we start by printing an 11 patch step-wedge with known input values, we can then measure these values and then feed that data into a formula which will then create a set of output values from which we can build a custom curve for Photoshop.
Remove The Heavy Lifting
By using this custom Paper Grey Curves Photoshop script, most of the hard work is automated including building the final printing curve.
A typical workflow for making a custom grey curve is.
- Print out the step wedge generated by the program
- Measure the step wedge patches with your measuring device **
- Paste the values into the spreadsheet
- Paste the values into the paper Grey Curves Program
- Generate the correction curve
** You can use any measuring device capable of produce L* values or alternately, you can scan the printed step-wedge and then use the Paper Grey Curves Script to read the values and produce a list of output values which you then paste into the spreadsheet.
Online Paper Grey Curves Spreadsheet
Supplied with the script is a link to a Google Sheets spreadsheet which you can use to generate the final output values needed to make the Photoshop Curve.
Photoshop version 22.0 or newer