First quadtone dye-ink system

Started Aug 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Michael Thomas Mitchell
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First quadtone dye-ink system
Aug 23, 2012

Well, I finally got my first dye-based quadtone/bw system going. First used pigmented quadtone and hextone inks more than 10 years ago. Great on matte papers, but useless on glossy. And that my goal here: deep glossy black and white prints.

I chose the Workforce WF-7510, a blazing fast, heavy-duty wide format printer. In addition to its speed and ability to double as an all-purpose tool, I specifically wanted a 4-color printer. In my opinion, 6 is just overkill for greyscale. Also, I would be using refillable carts instead of continuous flow, as I do in my color wide format printer, so there was the ease of maintenance, too.

The biggest issue I had was actually mixing the inks properly. I wanted a neutral-warm tone. Unfortunately, black dye ink skews to cool, if anything. So I knew I'd be doing some trial and error.

My first attempt was made by using Roarke's method for the old 4-color C88 and basically putting the same shade in all of the three color tanks... about 3/4 clear base with the remainder a mix of black and a small amount of magenta. Much to my surprise, using the same shade produced beautiful gradations. But it was all too cold.

I experimented with a couple of other mixtures. Close but no cigar. Finally, I went back to my original plan, which called for dilutions of 100, 75. 50 and 25 percent. This produced the best results yet. But it was still too cool. So I mixed one last batch and added a bit of yellow and little magenta. After some subtle tweaking, I was at last able to hold my test prints up to a Kodak neutral gray card and see fully neutral grey tones. Not only that, but the blacks were the deepest, richest black I've ever seen from an inkjet. Shading was completely uniform throughout. that is, no color variation in any of the tonalities. Frankly, in any light I put them under -- including sunlight -- the over all neutral tone was maintained. No texutures or evidence of where the ink was laid down. In short, it both met and exceeded my expectations.

Laying the dye-based quadtone prints beside the hextone pigment prints showed the difference between the two to be dramatic. Rourke had already written in his papers that a good dye-based system could produce results superior looking to pigment, and this bore that claim out.

For beautiful high gloss black and white prints that rival GOOD lab prints, this turned out to be everything I hoped. And it doubles as a wide format printer AND scanner, too. Cool!

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