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Why does my gradient look bad when printing from Photoshop / Illustrator?

New Here ,
May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024

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I have a gradient that goes from blue to green. When I try to print it from Illustrator, it basially looks like the printer just switches from blue to green. If I take the same image and print it to Adobe PDF, it looks fine in the pdf. And then, if I print the PDF, it looks okay.

 

What is really weird is, I printed the same image on glossy business card paper, and chaged the media type to "Photo Paper", it printed okay.

 

I spent forever trying to debug this, and I think what it comes down to is going to Print > Preferences > Paper / Quality > Advanced and then changing the Color Management setting to Adobe RBG (the default is RBG Color Smart). It still doesn't quite look like it does on the screen, but I get that the screen isn't really "true to life" either.

 

It reminds me of back when I made one of my first websites, and I had an LCD moniter with the brightness and contrast turned up, and when I looked at it on a CRT monitor (if that tells you anything about how long ago I was making websites, lol - Firefox was new, IE 4 was "standard", and "good web development" meant trying your website in Netscape Navigator.

 

Still, this seems to be a problem only with AI gradients - my photos come out good. And what is really weird is, I tried to print my image on ACTUAL photo paper - it is 100% perfect. So the printer CAN make the gradient correctly, it just doesn't when printing on normal computer paper.

 

My printer is an HP Photosmart 7520. It takes two kinds of black ink, a regular black, and then a "photo" black. I don't think this is affecting the gradient, but I'm not sure what would be different between printing on regular paper and photo paper. 

 

The print on the photo paper looks better, and lighter, than even the print on glossy business card stock.

 

Does anyone know anything else to try - besides chaging the media type and color management profile? I *think* the PhotoSmart is supposed to be a high-end consumer-level printer - it's old but I don't print that much and it also a sheet scanner and I can get off-brand ink for it cheap on amazon and it always works. Printing this gradient is really the first time it has given me problems. 

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Adobe
Community Expert ,
May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024

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This is all about colour management. That is the system that converts the numbers representing colour in your document, to those that will be sent to the screen, or printer, in order to give the most accurate reproduction.

The colour management system works well in reproducing on screen colours on paper under the following circumstances:

1. The colours in your document have to be within the gamut of the printer inks (some colours displayed on screen just can't be printed with CMYK inks). However the fact that you get an acceptable print on some papers would suggest the inks are capable of reproducing those colours.

2. You are using a colour printing profile that matches the particular printer/paper and ink combination that you are printing with. If you change any of those three then you have to switch to a different printer colour profile that has been made to describe exactly how colours are reproduced using that printer/paper and ink combination.

 

If you are not using 'Photoshop manages colours' and just letting the printer manage the colours, it will not be as accurate as using the correct profiles but may give acceptable colour on the manufacturers own recommended media and using their inks. That is how their internal print driver works.

 

It sounds though, from your description, that you are using third party papers and inks. If that is the case, it is anyone's guess how the colours will print on different papers as the colour profiles used by Photoshop ( or used internally by the printer) will not match the paper and ink actually being used.

 

Dave

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