Basic Printing

Photoshop 6

Epson Printers - Windows


By Ian Lyons

A Computer Darkroom Review

Anyone opening the Epson printer driver for the first time can't help but ask which option is best. The documentation doesn't exactly give any clear advice on how to produce good quality prints other than to say - "choose Automatic". This short step-by-step should give the new/novice Photoshop 6 user some better guidance.



The driver settings are not printer specific, they should be compatible with just about any Epson Inkjet printer currently available and also with some from quite a few years back.

PC users of Epson printers sometimes feel rather unfortunate claiming that Epson do not provide them with all the tools necessary for a fully colour managed workflow. The ICC profile supplied with the PC version of the Epson printer driver is NOT a media (paper) profile. So what is it?

The single ICC profile supplied with the PC driver will normally have a name such as Epson Stylus Photo 1270, when viewed in the Photoshop Print dialog. However, the name/label of these profiles in Windows Explorer is less obvious, e.g. Ee089_1. This profile simply defines the optimum colour space for the Epson printer and is associated with the Color Settings, PhotoEnhance and ICM modes; except for a slight gamma difference it's pretty close to sRGB. When the driver is set for any of the 3 operating modes listed above it needs no additional media profiles.

For best results when using an Epson Printer with Photoshop we should really have it correctly configured and the monitor properly calibrated. Adobe provides Adobe Gamma for the purpose of calibration and I have produced a comprehensive essay describing how Photoshop 6 can be configured along with guidance on calibrating the monitor. See Photoshop 6 Colour Setup.

Note: that if you are using the Epson Stylus Photo 750 or 1200 printers it is very likely that you are in fact using a faulty ICC profile. The net effect of the fault within the 750/1200 profile is to cause prints that tend to be dark and saturated. Therefore, in order that Epson 750/1200 users can benefit from the workflows discussed below I recommend that you download the replacement profiles that I have provided. The zip file contains a readme text file, please red it. Download profiles HERE!

Getting an acceptable Print

The typical user of an Epson printer and Photoshop 6 has two BASIC print workflows (methods). Neither is complex, in fact 90% of the settings are common to both methods. The results from both should/will be VERY similar. I suggest that you try both and decide which of the two suites your workflow best.

Method 1 - Let Windows ICM colour engine do the colour space conversions

In Photoshop 6 Print dialog "File > Print" make sure that the Source Space radio button is selected (1). We then choose the "Printer Space" Profile pop-up (2) and from it select "Printer Color Management (PCM)". Intent cannot be changed, nor does it need to be since no conversions take place inside Photoshop when using this method.


Photoshop 6 - Print Dialog

Choosing PCM embeds the "source colour space profile" within the image and so tells Windows and the Epson driver that it has some conversion work still to do before printing the image. So long as the Epson driver is set-up for either of the Color Controls, PhotoEnhance4 or ICM modes the conversion process is automatic and the user has no role,.

Choose the "Setup" button. The following screen-capture shows the Page Setup dialog. Choose the Paper size/source and Orientation (3).


Photoshop 6 - Page Setup dialog

Now press the Properties button (4). Once the Printer driver window appears choose the type of Media (5) that will be used. Next select "Custom" mode (6). The last setting to choose in this dialog is the Advanced button (7).


Epson Printer Dialog - Main Window

Chose the highest Print Quality (8) option compatible with the printer/media combination that you require. Halftoning (9) should be set for High Quality. Color Management (10) should be set-up for either Color Controls, PhotoEnhance4 or ICM modes, it makes little difference other than the extent to which the user or Epson driver can further tweak the image before printing. Actually, tweaking an image in the driver is NOT really a good idea, most of these optional settings are for non-Photoshop users! My personal preference would be ICM mode since it disables the adjustment sliders and removes most of Epson's internal colour/contrast processing. Lastly, press the OK button and return to the Photoshop 6 Print dialog.

Before pressing the OK button in the Print dialog you should check that the  "Printer Space" Profile pop-up (2) is still set for "Printer Color Management (PCM)". If it has reverted to something else reset it to "Printer Color Management (PCM)".


Epson Print Driver - Advanced Settings

Method 2 - Let PS6 colour engine do the colour space conversions

In PS6 Print dialog "File > Print" make sure that the Source Space (1) radio button is selected. We then choose the "Printer Space" Profile pop-up (2) and from it select the ICC profile for our printer, e.g.; "Epson Stylus Photo 1270". Intent should be kept at Perceptual.


Photoshop 6 - Print Dialog

The remaining steps for Method 2 are identical to Steps 3 through 10 from Method 1 described above.

Final Thoughts

Both methods are equally valid and depending upon whether the image is photographic or graphical in nature they will produce very similar, if not identical results. In theory, Method 2 should produce a marginally better result since it utilises the Adobe colour conversion engine, which is superior to the Microsoft ICM engine. Nevertheless, the additional colour processing that is carried out internally by the Epson driver reduces any differences that may be present to the extent that they may be virtually impossible to detect. 

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