How to Avoid Printer Problems, Part II

by | Jul 31, 2021

Today’s Post by Kevin Elliott, DigitalMD

Kevin Elliott is one of those rare individuals who has both a grasp of the photographic process as well as the technology of digital imaging, especially in the area that seems easy but can be difficult to implement—getting correct color out of your ink-jet printer. I sat down with Kevin and we talked about issues facing photographers who want to produce the best possible results and here (and in Part 1 last Saturday) are some of the most common problems (and fixes) that he has encountered.—Joe Farace

#5: Extreme cleaning may be required. If you haven’t run the printer in a while, from one to seven head cleaning runs may be required to unclog the nozzles in the print head. But occasionally that won’t fix the problem. Most printers have standard and extreme cleaning modes. In extreme mode, more ink is pushed through the heads, so you end up using more (of that expensive) ink to push the clog out. It may even take twice as much ink to clean the heads but there may be no other way to get that head clean.

#6: Keep your printer covered to keep out the dust, etc. In the old days people in offices would cover their typewriters before they went home for the day. Kevin covers his large format ink-jet printer with a baby crib cover but covers are available for ink-jet printers and Joe has seen them on places such as Amazon. Even throwing a sheet over the top of your printer will help keep it clean.

#7: If there’s room, you should put a humidifier near your printer when you’re not using it. This is especially useful in dry climates because keeping the humidly up it will help keep head unclogged. When Joe had a large format printer he used a small Tupperware dish to hold a wet sponge and periodically checked to make sure it was wet and refilled with water. This solution cost less than $2. Important—don’t forget to take the “humidifier” out before you turn on the printer.

#8: When you get down to the point when you try to do a head cleaning but the printer won’t let you, it’s a good idea to have another ink cartridge on hand. Put it in to do your head cleaning, then pull it out replacing it with you old cartridge(s) until they, really, really run dry. There’s usually a lot of ink left in those older cartridges.

#9: If you want to get the best color out of your printer: It all comes down to workflow and how you set up your printer.

  • Choose the correct printer and make sure you select “Photoshop manages color,” not “Printer manages color”
  • Select the appropriate ICC profile for your printer and paper combination
  • Turn color management off, which means turning off any color management other than what you set.
  • Choose your Rendering Intent. Usually “Perceptual” works best for smooth gradients and flesh tones. While “Relative Colorimetric” helps match specific colors. However, if everything falls within gamut, it generally won’t matter. Also check the “Black Point Compensation” box. It won’t affect Perceptual but will make a big difference on Relative Colorimetric.
  • In Print Setup, make sure to pick the correct paper/type. It does make a difference for paper thickness and ink limits.
  • Use Soft Proofing and Gamut Warnings to help determine if you need to make adjustments to your image to achieve desired results.
  • Your monitor should be calibrated and profiled as well.
  • Last but not least, be consistent. Make sure your lighting is daylight balanced and your viewing area has the same kind of lighting throughout the day.


If you have questions or problems with your computer or printer, contact Kevin at DigitalMD directly.