Why Testing Paper Stock Is Vital?

Experimenting with lots of paper and color calibration is an essential step for testing print quality. Not all people use the same methods nor similar materials, also not everyone has the same taste for quality. Of course, we, the artists and illustrators will do anything to provide the best for our supporters. The only way to acquire alternatives with successful results, one must experiment and fail simultaneously, until hitting the right spot!

The qual

The quality difference between Normal Paper (20lb) vs. Photo Paper Plus Glossy II (73lb) for Canon.

The 50/50 Situation

Sometimes we are better off letting a printing industry take care of our artworks when conventions, meetings or any other event (related to our portfolio or merch) comes by; but what if the “Ifs” suddenly clash into our minds like:

  • What if there’s not enough money to do it on a printing manufacture?
  • What if the paper doesn’t feel right?
  • What if the colors or the quality aren’t right?
  • What if running against the clock and the shipping date doesn’t benefit?

Luckily we have the right tools for that (eventually I’ll talk about it) yet there is a small chance that we barely have the control of the situation. We must see this as a 50/50 situation. The first portion, we artists work on wips, process the inking and the coloring, measure it or scale it to different sizes and papers and finally test it out on a hard proof with color management (CMYK). The other half, the printing industry will do the required service on the chosen paper (whether the sample kit of paper was bought or just simply printed blindly), use their printings devices and ink cartridges accessible, and manage the specified marks, bleeds or slugs.

Testing Paper Stock

This little DIY may help you to figure out how the colors come out and how the papers affect the quality of your work. It all depends on your artwork, the ink cartridges and of course the type of printer that you have accessible. To be able to see the differences and the results you must experiments with paper stocks, make several adjustments in your computer and programs and even buying and giving the appropriate materials and management to the devices (printer, computer, monitor, etc.)

These were my paper stocks I bought at ebay!

These were the paper stocks I bought at eBay!


  • You can begin in Office Depot or any printing store to see some paper samples and make print testing.
  • Ask for help to someone who knows a lot about paper stock, that really help me!
  • You can make a head-start by calibrating your monitor for color and brightness management.
  • On any software you can tweak the appropriate setting to match a precise result from screen to print.
  • My first paper stock was a Bright White 20lb paper (Normal Paper), later on I moved to Matte Paper 100lb.
  • Always make sure to Soft Proofing before printing.
  • When buying paper stock, check for brightness, size, type of paper, weight, thickness and quantity of sheets.
  • Be sure that the paper can be processed with your printer or if it has limitations for certain brands.
  • Visiting some local printing industries for orientation is a must.
  • If you don’t want to waste a whole page for an artwork, you can divide it in 4 different pictures.
  • Or you can print the same artwork 4 times in one paper but with different color setting each.
  • Check if your printer is inkjet or laser and see the pros and cons before buying a printer.
  • Most of the time printers will make a slight crop of your artwork (whether an abrupt movement when printing, misplaced paper on the sheet tray or other), be sure to make the appropriate bleeds and mark crops.
  • Make sure all your ink cartridges are full and the right model for your printer.


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