Paul Roark





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The Ultra Tone FS inksets are pure pigment, predominantly carbon, black and white inksets for Epson printers.   They can be purchased from MIS Associates.  See the MIS website at: http://www.inksupply.com/bw/utfs1280    


This Readme information page is for the 1280, but the same cartridges fit the 1270 and 1290, and those related printers should perform about the same as the 1280.  It has also been reported that the Epson 900 works very well with this inkset and the 1280 curves.


Ink Characteristics


The Ultra Tone monotone inksets come in two hues or tones – medium warm (UT-FS) and neutral (UT-FSN).  Different papers, of course, print with different characteristics.


The FS ink order in the printer cartridges is referred to as “CMCMY.”  This puts the dark gray FS-C ink in both the cyan and magenta positions.  The medium gray FS-M goes in both the light cyan and light magenta cartridge positions, and the light gray FS-Y goes in the yellow position.  Some older hextone ink arrangements have used more light ink.  For modern printers, however, this is not only unnecessary, but it can flood the paper, causing, among other problems, spots on glossy papers.


The UT-FS inksets can print on matte or glossy papers with several alternative procedures or workflows.   MIS “Eboni” Matte black is used with the inkset when printing on matte papers.  MIS Photo Black is used for the best glossy prints, but very good glossy prints are also possible with Eboni ink installed.


These are the only readily available monotone B&W inksets that can make extremely archival images on almost any paper type, with the limiting factor often being the paper itself.




Most of the settings for printing these inksets are the same no matter what paper is being printed.  For glossy papers, however, the Media Type setting may change.


The Color Settings in Photoshop (Edit, Color Settings) are set as follows:  First, set the top line to Photoshop 5 Default spaces.  Second, set the RGB working space to Adobe RGB (1998). 


In the Epson driver, the “Print Space” should read, “Same as Source.”  Use “Matte Paper Heavyweight:” for the Media Type unless noted otherwise, below.  The Print Quality is set to 1440, with High Speed checked for matte papers, but not checked for glossy papers.  In the Color Management section, always use “No Color Adjustment.”


Printing on Matte Papers


Although many matte papers print quite nicely with no curves or adjustments, most will print better with the use of a simple Photoshop image adjustment curve.   These are applied to the final file just before printing.


Several Photoshop curves have been pre-made to profile the inkset for the papers mentioned below.  These curves files can be loaded in the usual manner in Photoshop (Image, Adjust, Curves) or Picture Window (Transform, Gray, curves), or they can be loaded as a Transfer Function in the printer driver Setup box, if printing from Photoshop. 


(Note that RGB curves will not load as Transfer Functions.  Beware that after a Transfer Function has been loaded and used, it may still be there the next time you print.  So, check the Transfer Function to be sure you know what is there.)


Curves are available for Epson Enhanced Matte (“EEM” – a very popular and affordable paper, but not archival), Hahnemuhle PhotoRag (a popular cotton paper due to its high dmax, but expensive and with a sensitive surface that tends to flake), and PremierArt Fine Art Hot Press.  (The PremierArt 205 is a good value among cotton papers with coating on both sides that appears to be quite durable.  It appears to have the same coating as Epson UltraSmooth fine art paper.)  These curves can be downloaded from a separate “Download” page, noted further below.


The existing curves will probably be close to what is needed for many papers.  For information on how to modify the curves to, for example, profile the inkset for a different paper, see the “Modifying Curves” section, below.


The curves and other downloadable information and test files can be accessed from links at www.PaulRoark.com.  On my main page, see the first link to the information index.


Printing on Glossy Paper with Photo Black Ink Installed


If one is only printing glossy paper, or wants the deepest black (best dmax) on such papers, the use of Photo Black ink is recommended as opposed to the Eboni matte black ink, which is not compatible with glossy papers.  (And Photo black ink does not produce a good black dmax on matte paper.)


Among glossy papers, three deserve special mention and are supported with pre-made curves.  Note that the Media Type driver settings will vary according to paper.  If the media type is different than the paper name, a reminder is in the curve name.


Epson Glossy Photo Paper is a bargain and also about the only popularly-available glossy paper that prints with no unwanted artifacts like “bronzing.”   This makes it a standard against which to judge other glossy papers when MIS Photo Black ink is used.   The driver Media Type setting of “Photo Paper” will give the best dmax.  A curve has been made for grayscale printing on this paper.  There is also a second curve that requires the file to first be converted to RGB.  This RGB curve is the smoothest.  (Note, Epson UltraChrome pigments do not print well on the paper.) 


Epson Premium glossy papers – Glossy, Semigloss, and Luster – are the only popularly-available glossy papers that might be considered archival, although some question whether any glossy paper can be as archival as a cotton matte paper.  Like most glossy papers, the bronzing is reduced by spraying with PremierArt Print Shield after printing.  Many think the Premium Semigloss has the best surface of this group.  Use “Premium Glossy” Media Type in the Epson driver.  A grayscale curve has been made for this set of papers.


Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl paper has the highest dmax.  The Media Type selection should be “Photo Quality Glossy Film.”  A grayscale curve has been made for this paper.  As with most glossy papers, spraying with PremierArt (or Lyson Print Guard) will lessen the bronzing.


For glossy paper, the Epson printer "pizza wheels" may leave marks on the finished print.  I recommend the wheels be removed or raised to eliminate the mars.  See the instructions at either  http://www.inksupply.info/?_a=knowledgebase&_j=subcat&_i=1   or

http://www.inkjetart.com/pizza/  .


Printing on Glossy Papers with Eboni Matte Black Installed


Glossy papers can be printed with Eboni matte black installed if they use an RGB curve.  Using this method of printing is the most convenient if you also regularly use matte papers because the black ink does not have to be changed.  The RGB curves simply print the black with the 2 dark gray inks, not using the Eboni matte black ink at all.


With this procedure, the dmax is not as great as with Photo Black ink installed, but on Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl paper the dmax is still very good (over 2.0), and others may well be very good also.  With all glossy papers the dmax can be increased further by spraying with PremierArt Print Shield after the print has dried. 


All three of the papers above are supported by pre-made curves for printing with Eboni installed.  The Media Type settings are the same as noted above.  The curves for this procedure include “Eboni” in the name of the curve.


With RGB curves the print density is controlled by a simple, single set of points, usually on the combined RGB curve.   When Eboni ink is installed, the Blue curve turns off the light gray ink after the highlights and stops the Eboni matte black from being used.  The Red and Green curves illustrate how one can easily move the centers of those up and down in offsetting fashion and achieve a smoother grayscale ramp – with any grayscale curve.


Modifying Curves


Making new curves or modifying the existing ones for other papers is an open process that allows users to freely profile the inksets for any paper.  To do this, use one of the existing curves to print a 21-step test file print on the supported paper.  Then use that test strip as a visual reference for modifying curves for other papers.  (21-step test files are downloadable from pages linked to www.PaulRoark.com, via the information index.)


The procedure involves viewing the different patches of gray on the reference and new curves’ test-strip prints, and making modifications to the curves file in Photoshop when it is applied to a 21-step test file.   If a patch on the new curve is not equal to the reference print, just move the point for that patch density level on the curve up or down as needed.  Use the Ctrl and Tab (and Shift) keys to move from point to point along the curve.  Click in the “Output” box and use the arrow keys to move the point up or down.  When the dark ends of the curves’ axes are at the bottom left (switched with the arrows in the horizontal axis), moving a point down increases density.


Most matte papers will print smoothly from a grayscale file with a grayscale curve.  However, if the input file is only 8 bits (as opposed the 16 bits that are recommended for working up digital image files), there could be some evidence of stair-stepping.  If this is visible, convert the grayscale file to RGB when you want to print it.  Then when you open the curves file for that paper, it will be an RGB curve with the original grayscale curve points on a combined ‘RGB” curve.  Below that “RGB” curve, however, are separate Red, Green and Blue curves.  These can be used to smooth out any stair stepping that might have occurred in the printing.  The RGB file has 24 bits available to it as opposed to the 8 bits of the grayscale.  Moving the centers of the Red and Green curves in an offsetting fashion, as illustrated by the PremierArt RGB curve, will often be enough to smooth out the print.  For example, put a point on the middle of the Red curve (at 127 or 50%); do the same on the Green curve.   Then use the arrow keys to move the Red center point up 10 units and the Green center point down 10 units.  The original grayscale curve’s points will be on the combined RGB curve and will continue to adjust the densities as before. 


Where to Learn About B&W Printing


For an open forum where B&W digital printing is discussed, join the B&W Digital Print forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint/