Paper sources

There are many large and small companies that offer excellent papers for your photo inkjet printer. Here are a few of my favorites (remember to check their Web sites for downloadable ICC profiles for your printer):

Crane & Co. : Crane’s Museo line of fine art and fiber-based media is among the best I’ve used. I love their Museo and Museo Max papers, and they’ve recently introduced an ultrasmooth fine-art paper, Museo Portfolio Rag, that ranks up there in quality with Hahnemuehle’s Photo Rag line. They also just released a line of matte- and glossy-finish canvas, Museo Maestro, which is some of the nicest I’ve ever used.

Color Textiles : If you can get past the 1990s feel to their Web site, you’ll find a nice set of fabric types in all sizes, including rolls. If you’re interested in printing on fabric, you can also check your local quilt shop or fabric store. Many of them have letter-size sheets of printable fabric; just make sure you read the instructions carefully before you print. Some of the fabrics have specific washing instructions that must be adhered to before you use the fabric in a project. (You can also use a warm iron to affix your own fabric to a sheet of wax paper; I have been using this technique for years.)

Hahnemuehle Fineart : The paper maker dates back to the sixteenth century, and they make some of the most beautiful papers on the planet. Their smooth-finish, cotton-based Photo Rag comes in a variety of thicknesses and finishes, and they’ve recently added a fiber-based paper, Fine Art Pearl. They also sell a wide range of textured fine art papers. Of that group, Torchon and William Turner are probably the best-known, and are quite nice for times when you want your images to have that “hung in a museum” feel to them.

Hahnemuehle also sells a second line of photo inkjet papers, under the Lumijet name. The Lumijet papers are more affordable than the Hahnemuehle papers, and are quite nice. Their Genuine Pearl II paper is a satin-style RC paper that works well with both pigment and dye inks, and their Photo White 270 is a nice alternative to Hahnemuehle’s Photo Rag 188; it’s a little bit thicker and holds a lot of ink without buckling or bleeding (which can be a problem with some of the thinner cotton rag papers in general).

Harman Technology : A relative newcomer to the digital printing field, Harman’s Photo Matt FB and Photo Matt Warmtone FB are two beautiful fiber-based, baryta papers. Photo Matt has a great finish that works well for both color and for black and white printing; the Warmtone paper is optimized for monochrome images, and I’ve been blown away by some of the prints I’ve gotten from it. At press time, Harman also announced Gloss FB, a fiber-based, glossy stock, but I haven’t had a chance to play with it.

Hiromi Paper International : Hiromi is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and stocks an unbelievable supply of hand-made and machined Japanese papers. They only have a few papers that are produced specifically for digital printmaking — the Warahan-shi is my favorite — but their catalog is beautiful, and they also sell sample packs.

Moab Paper Co. : Moab was recently purchased by Legion Paper, and the combined company offers a nice group of papers of all types. Legion’s Somerset Velvet was one of the first artists’ paper to be adopted by digital printmakers, and Moab’s Entrada is a great, affordable, double-sided cotton-rag paper that comes in a variety of sizes, in bright white and natural finishes. I have really been enjoying their new fiber-based papers, Colorado Gloss and Colorado Satine; the Satine has a wonderful semi-gloss finish to it, and it works equally well on bright, colorful images as it does on black and white photos. (Many of Moab’s papers are specifically designed for pigment inks—make sure you check the Web site or the box before you buy.)

Red River Paper Co. : One of my favorite companies, Red River offers a potpourri of papers, from inexpensive RC and matte photo papers to recycled and specialty papers. Their Aurora fine art paper is gorgeous and reasonably priced. It’s definitely worth purchasing a sample pack and playing with the different types.

Additional reading

Wilhelm Imaging Research: Henry Wilhelm’s tests for determining the expected longevity of inks and paper are the current standard in the print preservation industry. If you’re interested in keeping your prints vibrant for years to come, Wilhelm’s site is worth looking at.

Pigments or dyes: which is best?: If you’re interested in reading more about combining different papers and inks, this Macworld article offers an overview of the current landscape.

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