Jenny Brown (skywind8) wrote,
Jenny Brown

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Printer Choice for Artists, Quilters, Crafters, Scrapbooks

So, a few months ago I purchased an HP Photosmart Premium all-in-one inkjet printer (that's an Amazon link to the relevant model, but not an affiliate link; I have no relation to any companies).

I've come to really love this printer model, and here's why.

1) Excellent color-accuracy without any fuss for color management workflow. Literally, no fuss - the printer matches beautifully what my (calibrated) monitor displays. I don't have to mess with ICM or paper types or anything. For the more technical minded: the printer seems to work in sRGB color space, which minimizes hassle.

2) Excellent, accurate sizing and proportion. When I print a 6" x 6" quilt block, it comes out exactly 6" x 6". Many printers have a slight sizing inconsistency; this one gets it perfect with no fuss. I don't have to do anything special; it just gets it right.

3) The ability to easily do color copies. When I'm sketching clothing design ideas, or quilt block ideas, I color them in with colored pencil. Sometimes I want to make a copy and then try a few different variations. At the default darkness for copies, the colors are pretty accurate and drawings are clear. Caveat, I have trouble with thin light pencil lines, but darkening the lines a little solves that. Having the ability to easily run color copies of hand-drawn designs - without the work of scan, photoshop, reprint - is invaluable for creative sessions. This machine makes it easy; with just a couple button presses, it directly copies.

4) Very clean photo printing on photo paper. The HP papers look great; and the Epson paper I'm using also looks great (guess which brand printer I used to own...). I use entirely HP brand inks, and I seem to get plenty of pages out of a cartridge. Borderless printing looks great. Photos printed on a photo paper (luster or glossy) look fantastic, and photos printed on heavyweight matte paper also look really good (though more artsy than photo-like).

5) It's fast. I realize models have improved over the years, so I don't actually know how it compares to its contemporaries, but it's certainly faster than my previous printer, by a lot. I don't wait long for letter-size prints to run.

6) Inexpensive inks. I don't have per-page costs figured up yet, but suffice it to say that I am getting many times more pages per cartridge set, AND a full replacement of the cartridges is cheaper, than my previous Epson printer. I would have expected "cheaper inks" to impair color quality, but it hasn't -- if anything, this printer is giving me better results. Since ink cost is the majority of the cost of home inkjet prints, I'm really glad to have a less expensive option there.

Note that my previous Epson printer was not a high-end model, and I am sure the more expensive models did a better job (though their inks were expensive too). In any case, this HP printer-scanner combo has been fantastic, has made my art process a lot simpler and faster, and has been an incredible tool for crafting.

7) One complaint: The scanner is mediocre for scan-to-computer results, in part due to lack of user controls on scanner optimizations. Color accuracy is weaker, colors tend to be less saturated and a bit darker, and the results just aren't as smooth and proper. I switch back to my dedicated flatbed scanner when I need high quality color scans. The HP all-in-one is fine for casual black and white documents though.

What I'm using it for...

I'm printing templates and paper piecing / foundation piecing guides for quilting.
I'm printing color quilt design ideas I made in Electric Quilt, so I have a color reference chart to sew from.
I'm photocopying colored clothing designs, so I can work out further design details and variations.
I'm printing paper dolls and paper doll clothes made from photos of myself (and my sketched designs).
I'm printing photos and decorations for casual scrapbooking, particularly digital scrapbook pages.
I'm printing digital painting art designs.

I do recommend using a thicker, bright-white paper for most printing purposes. The ink can be a bit wet/soggy on thinner papers (though it helps to tell it what kind of paper you're using, if it's not an HP Auto-sense paper). With thicker papers (28 lb, 32 lb, and photo papers) it gives excellent results.

I'm used to having a scanner, and I'm used to having a color printer... but having an all-in-one that also operates smoothly (no jams, no ink clots) and which is fast and easy to use, has really increased my throughput on art and design projects. It's made the process a lot more enjoyable and smooth.

It's rare for me to bother with a product review. I'm writing this one because having the printer has really grown on me - the more I use it, the more I love what it can do and how seamlessly it does so. It doesn't need babysitting; it just works. Like a printer should. If you want the tech specs and walk-through, go find one of the official reviews for those details.
Tags: artistic/creative
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