Fun with separations; paper trials

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 12/18/04-03:00:39 PM Z
Message-id: <>

In a rare few hours in the studio on Thursday, I spent some time trying
out two new papers (new to me, not to the world) for color work: Arches
Bright White and Fabriano Artistico Extra White. For something to print
as a way of getting to know these papers, I used some separations of
color patches that I had made several weeks ago and were sitting there
by the printing platform.

This is not a test of anything other than the papers I was trying; it is
especially not a test of the relative color accuracy of gum prints from
RGB vs CMYK separations, partly because, as I've said before, I consider
it an uninteresting and unanswerable question, and partly because that's
not what I was trying to do there. For one thing I used just my regular
pigments, which were chosen not for color accuracy but for their
transparency and for the rich clear color mixes they create when
overlaid. If I were making a test of color accuracy of the separations,
I'd choose pigments that more closely resembled process colors.

If I don't want any conclusions to be drawn from it, then what's the
purpose of sharing the results of this informal printing of
separations? The purpose is twofold: (1) to introduce a lighter tone
to the discussion on separations, since some people seem to be taking
this topic way too seriously. There are things to be angry and upset
about in this world, but RGB vs CMYK is hardly one of them. (2) to
underscore my contention that trying to determine which separation type
is "best" in some kind of objective sense is an impossible task. If this
were a comparison test, which again it's not, it would be interesting to
note that the color "accuracy" in these samples appears to be more
dependent on the paper that the color is printed on than on the type of
separations. Which type of separations produces more "accurate" color
also seems to depend on which color you're talking about. At any rate,
in this informal trial, using non-process colors, both separation types
produced about the same number of fairly "accurate" color patches, and
also some real clinkers that were way off. But like I said, it would be
a mistake to draw any conclusions of any kind from this.

The conclusion I did draw from making these prints was that I like
Arches Bright White quite a lot and it will be my new paper for color
work. It has to be sized, as unsized it speckles just like its sister
paper Arches Aquarelle does these days. (I included the speckled print
just for your amusement). And I'll need to change my coating mix or
technique a bit because my usual mix doesn't easily brush out smoothly
on this paper when it's sized. But that's just details, and the main
thing is I love the crisp, smooth surface that stayed perfectly smooth
through four soakings.

I didn't like the Fabriano paper nearly as well, mostly because I don't
care for the surface texture. Again, it would be another mistake to draw
the conclusion from this one set of prints that this paper doesn't print
color as well as the Arches Bright White. All it means is that, for
whatever reason and possibly by pure coincidence, my longstanding
tricolor method that worked so nicely on unsized Arches (pre-speckles
Arches) also lends itself well to the sized Arches Bright White, so I
won't have to change my method any to adapt to this paper. But someone
whose method is calibrated to the Fabriano would get much nicer color on
that paper, I'm sure.

Okay, here it is, if you want to take a look. Happy Holidays to all,
Received on Sat Dec 18 22:56:37 2004

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