Setting Up A Print Proof to Test The Brightness Slider
We’ve talked about using the Brightness slider in the Print module so you can still use a nice, bright contrasty monitor, and adjust just the file that is sent to your printer (or an online lab for printing) without messing with your original image’s settings, so the print still looks good. I’ve seen some questions, here and on social media, about how to actually set up a printed proof (for some reason, many Lightroom users really fight the idea of making a printing proof and using it to compare to their display). Well, for those who don’t fight it, and want to stop guessing when it comes to print brightness — this is for you.
Now, before I dive into this, just so you know there are lots of different ways to do proof prints, this is just one of them. What this does do is let you visually test the brightness slider at different settings, so with making just one proof print, you’ll know which one most closely matches your screen.
Find an image you want to use as your proof. Go to the Print Module, and over in the Template Panel on the left side check on the Maximize Size template (as shown here). Scroll to the top of the right side panels; click on “Zoom to Fill” to get your image as large as possible (well, without messing with the page margins), then go to the Print Job panel (bottom of the right side panels) and under “Print to” at the top of the panel, choose JPEG file (as seen here), and then click on “Print to File” and save this image as a JPEG, and name it “1-Original” (that way, it appears in the first position — this will make more sense in a few moments).
Go to the Print Adjustment section of the Print Job panel, and increase the Brightness slider to +20 (as seen here). Now click the Print to File button again, but this time name the file 20% Brightness. After it saves, bump it up to 40%, save the file again and name it “40% Brightness” and do this process again, one more time at +60 (name is 60% brightness).
Once you’ve saved all four as JPEGs, go to the Library module and import all four files. Now, in the Print Template panel, click on the 2×2 Cells template, and select all four photos you just imported, then scroll up to the top on the right side panels and turn on the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox to give you the layout you see here.
Now, over on the right side panels, turn on the “Photo Info” checkbox and choose “Filename” as the info you want to display under the pictures. Now you can see the names of each JPEG which tell you how much Brightness amount was applied to each of them. Save this image by clicking “Print to File” (if you’re sending your image to an outside lab, like MPIX.com or BayPhoto, or if you’re printing to your own in-house printer, change the ‘Print to’ setting to Printer and enter in your color management settings.
NOTE: Before you print your final test print, don’t forget to set your Brightness slider back to zero (very important!)
Either way, what you wind up with is a test print. Once you have the print in your hand, hold it right up next to your monitor and figure out which of these looks the most like your monitor (for me, and my in-house printer, it’s usually 20 to 25%, depending on the paper, and 40 to 50% if I’m printing on Canvas. But that’s for my printer, and my paper, and my screen. Want to know what the right amount of Brightness that works you for, and your monitor and the printer or lab you use? Then make a test print and in just a few seconds, once and for all, you’ll know.
Hope that helps. 🙂
Here’s wishing you an awesome Monday!
Can you do the same with contrast and brightness together in maybe 16 pics?
Hopefully you’re still monitoring this page because I desperately want to do this tip but the images in your article are no longer available. Can you please post them again or provide a link where I can find them?
Thank you so much!
Very smart application of using the tool to test itself. I will definitely be using this method for future prints. It will save ink, paper and frustration. Thanks Scott!
I tried this and find it to be an amazing way to do test prints. It saves so much time and space, and I don’t have to cut down sheets of paper. It will also be much easier to organize test prints, dealing with full sheets instead of 1/4 sheets.
Thank you so very much for sharing this
Great tip! Thanks.
Thanks for the tip. I have a follow-up. I just had a problem in Lightroom Book module where a book I uploaded to Blurb came out too dark. Have you got a tip for how to control brightness in the book module?
I noticed that you used a black and white image. Would you recommend using black and white, or will color work just as well?
thank you for paying attention to this topic. This issue bugged me a lot, now I’ll try this comparison. 🙂
Scott – This is a valuable process to know, and your tip has made it really easy to replicate. Thanks.
I’ve been struggling with this for quite some time because I send my photos off to be printed. This is exactly what I needed. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
Scott, Wonderful tip!!! Thank you os much! What a great and easy way to do this.
Make sure when you print the composite that you do it with no corrections applied…
Good catch Lyle — I just added it. 🙂
… and if printing locally… don’t forget to reset the brightness or you’ll get +60% on +60%…. just saying this because I made that exact mistake just now. GREAT tip, Scott, seems to have resolved my problem. Previously I’d printed 10 versions of a 6×4 and decided which one I liked best, but that may not have helped with those going to a print lab. Now I have something I can use if ever I change a printer, monitor, graphics card, profile or lab… thanks.
Don’t forget… save it as a Print Job rather than as a template so the same template & images can be brought back at a later date.
Ah, reminiscent of Darkroom Printing with step wedge test prints 🙂
Smells better, though… no headaches. No apron required 🙂