Optimizing Process Recipes for Print
Watch the tutorial or follow the steps written below
Exporting an image for print that will print perfectly in terms of cropping, sharpness and quality can often be a troublesome experience. Process Recipes in Capture One offer a repeatable consistent way to prepare your images for print.
In this blog post I will show how to create a Process Recipe designed to export a final image to send to a printing service, in this case L-Type.com. However, the principles can be applied to any other print service.
Creating a new Process Recipe
Process Recipes are built in the Process Recipes tool found in the Output tool tab.
To create my new Process Recipe, I click on the ‘plus’ icon and give the Recipe a sensible name. In this case, my Recipe is going to create an A3 Print, to the L-Type specification.
In the Process Recipe tool, I have to fill in the parameters for the output I want. In this case the format that L-Type requires is either TIF or JPEG. As I am a quality junky, I will go with TIF to be on the safe side. I’m using 8-bit TIF because 16-bit just makes for much larger files with no quality benefit for prints. The ICC profile can be left at Adobe RGB (1998) for optimal colors.
L-Type prints use a unique high-resolution process, and as I am going to export to a particular size in millimetres, it’s really important I get the correct Resolution value which is 400 px/in.
Finally, I want to set my Scale to Dimensions and use 369mm x 246mm which is the exact size L-Type will output a print at for the print size, A3 with a 25.5mm border, I will choose when ordering. Why am I so picky about setting this exact size? For one it will allow me to crop accurately but more importantly it means L-Type will not have to resize my image before printing.
You might be thinking, well surely, I just send them the biggest file I can squeeze out my camera and it will look great! But the hard fact is that reducing an overly large image to a smaller size might have a negative impact on quality and sharpness in the same way as having to increase an image in size can. You want to be in control of this process. This way, I ensure the best quality I can, to send to print.
Cropping to Output Size
There is nothing worse than sending an image to print and having something cropped out of your control. In this case, L-Type never crop your images, but that may mean uneven borders instead. In reality that’s your own fault, so be prepared and send exactly the right dimensions as described above! If my image was already cropped, then I might need to tweak the crop to fit into the aspect ratio of my freshly created Recipe. Fortunately, there is a super simple way to do that in Capture One.
Long pressing on the Crop cursor tool means I can choose Output in the drop-down menu.
When I go to crop my image or adjust the current crop it will snap exactly to my dimensions in the currently selected Process Recipe. In this case, 369mm x 246mm.
Output Sharpening for Print
With the crop, size and aspect ratio in place, I want to control the sharpening. This is a crucial step when exporting to print.
In the Adjustments tab, I choose Output Sharpening for Print in the Sharpening dropdown menu.
I control the sharpening amount by setting Viewing Distance to approximately 40cms, as these images are going to be viewed in a portfolio at an arm’s length. L-Type’s print resolution is specifically intended for close viewing, but if you are printing larger prints with another service, you might well want a longer viewing distance.
Capture One will then calculate the amount of sharpening required, based on my scaling and viewing distance. Sharpening is very much a personal preference or subject dependant, but I have found the default amount of 80 to work well on a variety of subjects. If I feel the image quality is less than perfect, perhaps slightly missed focus or some motion blur, I might back it off a little to 60.
Proofing the Recipe
To take the guesswork out of exports, there is a very neat feature that will simulate the selected Recipe in the viewer. Recipe Proofing will simulate the scaling and output sharpening for this Recipe.
First of all, I need to zoom my image to 100%, and then click on the spectacles icon in the toolbar.
Immediately the image will be resized and sharpened. Don’t be alarmed if the image looks a little over sharpened if you are going to print! But if you are really concerned or want to nail your own personal preference, you can always send 2-3 prints to your chosen service to see what works best for you. As I said earlier, the default of 80 at a viewing distance of 40cm has been working well for me.
Last but not least, Process Recipes can also have unique export locations.
By default, the output location is decided in the Output Location Tool as indicated in the Root Folder of the File tab. However, I want my Process Recipe to have a unique location.
Therefore, I change the Root Folder to a Dropbox folder which is already linked to my L-Type account. This way, Capture One exports directly to Dropbox, so I can simply order prints on L-Type.com or easily on their iOS app.
This avoids any additional upload or file management steps.
To export my image, I click on the Process button in the Process Summary tool.
Tip – Don’t forget you can process multiple images at once and even use more than one Process Recipe simultaneously. Simply check the box next to your Process Recipes to activate them.
The steps outlined above can be applied to any kind of output, whether that is for print or screen. Remember, having your own set of Process Recipes leads to consistent and repeatable output.
Not only that, you will save time with Capture One doing the heavy lifting.
July 27 2018
By David GroverCategory: Tech Talk Tags: Exporting Printing