Many printmakers say that high quality digital transparencies for exposing light-sensitive materials can be made with consumer inkjet printers. Since alternative processes are mainly contact printing techniques, a film (negative or positive, depending on the process) of the final print size is needed. Here the digital method of making enlarged films will be a great advantage. In addition to making the film to desired size, with digital techniques we can adjust the tone range to match exactly each of our printing processes.

There are many great sources on making digital negatives with inkjet printers; so far we have read texts of Dan Burkholder, Ron Reeder & Brad Hinkel, and Mark Nelson, and also good web sources like the Digital Negatives forum on Hybrid Photo, or The RNP-Array System, among others.

There will be two Epson inkjet printers at our service: Stylus Photo R1800 (print size A3+) and Stylus Pro 3800 (A2). Both of them should be fine for printing transparencies. In fact these printers are made for printing photo quality full color images on special papers (and they are good at that), but we want them to print monochrome on transparency… I guess there will be a lot of adjustments to do.

We started with printing a 21-step grayscale wedge from Photoshop on Agfa CopyJet transparency material, using all inks and no color management in the printer driver. We tried to find media settings to reproduce the gradually increasing gray densities as smoothly as possible, with all the steps readable. Succeeding in that would be a good starting point for building our own correction curves.