Solved: Is 21 step wedge supposed to be pink and blue shades when on Pictorico film?

Just printed with the digital negative method #3 for the first time. I am confused by the colors of the step wedge as I thought I would be seeing black and grey tones only.
I did the purge of the inks as per the manual on nine sheets of paper before I printed the wedge. Was that not enough times?



The manual has purge images and instructions only to rid two channels of ink for when you convert a K7 printer to Digital Negative. The rest of the channels are not purged. You are not purging two channels. You need to rid your printer of color inks first.

You first need to follow the instructions for the installation of the inks. Your printer has about 15ml of color ink in each of the channels that is contained in long tubing that empties into damper filters before going into the print heads. Did you follow the instructions for ridding your printer of color inks?

It is located here at the Piezography website where all the different procedures are for the various Epson printers we support.

Here is yours Piezography Installation Instructions for Epson 3880

Because you did not follow the above instructions, there is some possibility that you may not have put your ink shades in the correct positions. So double check. Please do not make shortcuts. The system is easy to use but only when the instructions are followed.

Got it.
So much to absorb for an old gal.

Did 4 power cleans, 5 head cleanings, one print head alignment. All black now coming through~nice.
Did exactly as said in manual to print, using QTR Print tool. Just printed a step wedge and a gradient on Pictorico Ultra Premium OHP with curve PZDN-X800-METH3-1_7V2 through the front paper feed (to avoid roller marks). I see banding-most apparant in the darkest tones. I don’t know what else to do but see if it shows up in printing the wedge. When I printed the same exact way on Epson matte paper to see if the banding showed up on paper, it did not. Any thoughts?

Thanks for your help.


Are you saying that you followed a film immediately with a paper and nothing changed but the paper and banding was solved?

  1. In that case did you print again afterwards to make a 3rd print on film and see if the banding returned? It could have been missing nozzles? Otherwise, I have not heard of anything like that happening before. The film should behave in the printer just like paper. Make another print but please first read 2)

  2. However, if the image you printed was closer than 1.5 inches to the top or the bottom of the film, that is when I would expect you to see banding. The QTR driver with the digital negative curve will print visually apparent banding within 1.5 to the top and the bottom of the sheet (but not the sides). We can’t control the QuadTone RIP nor fix something like that. Try another print and place the top of the step wedge 1.5 inches from the top margin of the page setup. If you have banding then - please let me know.


[B]Are you saying that you followed a film immediately with a paper and nothing changed but the paper and banding was solved?

Yes, that is what I am saying. I see the banding when I hold the Pictorico film to light and look through with a magnifying glass. I have decided to withhold judging it until I make an actual print with the wedge. It is possible that it won’t show, and might not be an issue at all. I will do that tomorrow and report back when I see the print…

With regards to the edge banding~I saw it on one of my tests and then read about it on the Piezography Yahoo group. That won’t be a problem for me. What I am seeing with the magnifier is a more regulated but delicate banding than the edge type you mentioned.

Thanks again!


What does your nozzle check look like?
Is it perfect?
Or is there any single missing gap/s,
or is a gap/s there but deflected up one level or down one level,
or is there a gap/s that is trailing off?

[QUOTE=jon;288]What does your nozzle check look like?
Is it perfect?
Or is there any single missing gap/s,
or is a gap/s there but deflected up one level or down one level,
or is there a gap/s that is trailing off?[/QUOTE]

I did 4 nozzle checks yesterday~1 before the inks were flushed and it was perfect
then I did 3 after the flush~the first one no good so I did a head cleaning
nozzle check was better, so I did another cleaning and then nozzle check was perfect.

I just did 3 nozzle ck/head cleanings now. In #1 check, there were gaps in the cyan and magenta ink slots, with more in the magenta ink slot. After cleaning, no more gaps in magenta but cyan had one that was deflected down a bit. After the 3rd cleaning, nozzle check was perfect. Did more step wedges but they look the same. I will only know once I print if this is a real problem or not.

I was surprised to see the nozzle checks not perfect since I did them yesterday and the last one was good. Does one need to do a head cleaning before each print out?


One thing I had forgotten to mention and could be helpful. A few times, I ran the Pictorico film through the front feed slot in order to avoid roller marks. When the print came out, there was a half inch spray of ink that looks like air brushing into the blank border along the right side of the step wedge, and also at the top right side-so basically in the top right corner. It clears up at about 2 inches down the side and across the top. The step wedge image was placed 1.5 inches down from the top as you suggested on these particular prints, and I taped the film to a piece of Epson’s Velvet Fine Art paper to steady it. I thought that might be causing the trouble, so I ran a piece of the Velvet Fine art through on it’s own and still have the same issue. This does not happen at all when I run the Pictorico through the top sheet feeder.

First of all, I hope that you know that that is the cyan and magenta - they should not have cyan and magenta ink in them still… right??

Printers respond quite a bit to humidity. Buy a cheap hygrometer that is digital and put it near the printer. If you remain with at least 30% humidity you should be ok. Epson recommends 35% but it is hard to keep in the winter without using a humidifier. We run two large humidifiers in our studio to maintain 30-35% humidity. If you fall below 30% you will experience more frequent head drying out according to Epson. We agree!

Keep the printer clean. I would never start my day of printing EVER - without first running a nozzle check and cleaning the heads if necessary. This is standard practice if you are doing anything for pay - or you are printing for yourself using a critically important application (such as what you are doing.) This is done for no other reason than maintaining control and quality and consistency.

Then during the day you print out nozzle checks because they take 30 seconds, can be done on paper that costs a penny. Think of it as keeping a knife sharp, the oil in your car at level, a sensor on a digital camera clean, a lens clean, clothes neat and tidy, weeds pulled from a garden, a toddler’s room safe, or anything you practice in which you like to have all the parts or steps working the same way each time.

Just make it a practice to know intimately what your printer’s health is and exactly in what condition it is before you do something that you may need to repeat. Because you are making film - and this film in turn will become a negative in which you decide exposure and development - you want to avoid using faulty film to make a basis for a system. Perfect everything! Repeatability!!! :)!

Sounds like you have an issue with this printer. Was it used prior to converting it to a dig neg system? Overspray is generally electric - meaning something that one of the printer boards or logic boards is doing.

You do not need to put paper under the film to print the film.

First start with the top roller because it prints well. Deal with the roller marks later. You have too many issues all at once to try and solve.

I’m not convinced yet that you have the inks in the right order, have purged the printer of its color inks, or that you can print smooth linear output onto OHP yet. So do not throw any more variables at it until the system is installed and you are able to print the inks correctly and make a smooth linear output film. When you can confirm that - you may have to figure out the spray issue as a separate thing. So lets just see if you can get the dig neg part on this side of the darkroom. You have to make perfect film before you bring it into the darkroom…

Let us know!

[QUOTE=jon;299]First of all, I hope that you know that that is the cyan and magenta - they should not have cyan and magenta ink in them still… right??

Of course I know that.

Right. The cyan ink slot has your ink #2 in the refillable cartridge labeled cyan~ditto the magenta, which has your ink #2.5. They also have the proper chips installed in them which I took out of my Epson cyan and magenta cartridges. I should have stated the piezo ink color instead of saying in the magenta and cyan ink slots.

I live right on the coast. My hygrometer has shown me that we rarely fall below 35% humidity here year round.

I will print nozzle checks and do head cleanings daily from here on out.

My 3880 has been used mostly for positive prints and also for digital negatives using the PDN system.

I only brought up the ink spray issue since I thought it might hold a clue to what’s going on. If it doesn’t tell us anything about banding, then I will deal with it later.

I put an extra paper under the Pictorico film since I read on a forum that it works better when front loading it. I don’t put paper behind the film when I use the sheet feeder.

I believe I have the inks in order and have purged the Epson inks from the printer. I did label your ink bottles when filling them so I would not be confused. I did 4 power cleans and 5 head cleanings. Any other ideas? Should I ship you my printer?

Originally, I tried using this 3880 printer to make digital negatives with the PDN system, but I saw the ink droplet pattern too clearly for my taste. I then purchased an R3000 in order to get the higher resolution from the smaller picoliters. It was an improvement, but then I read your blog about digital negatives, and it made me feel like yours was the way. Now I am wondering which printer you use to make your digital negatives. Have you made a digital negative on the 3880 with your system?

Don’t ship us your printer! We are not an Epson repair site! Your printer should not be over-spraying and I do not think I can trouble shoot that. You will not be able to use any Piezography system in a printer that is not perfect. You can not afford to have missing nozzles nor over-spraying, etc. Because K7 shows up irregularities like that - and they will reflect in the prints you make whether K7 prints or digital neg prints.

Your installation has not gone as we instructed. You seem to be getting back on track to flushing out the inks - etc. If you could upload a scan of a manual nozzle check at 300dpi - we can take a look at it and tell you if you have a bad print head. If the scan is good enough, we will be able to see the actual dots of ink being formed from the nozzles that have ink in them. If the printhead is not up to the task - you should return it to Epson for replacement.

What you need is a perfectly working printer that is supported by the digital negative ink set. You need to install the inks according to our directions. You need to confirm that you can print a perfect nozzle check by manual method. Then you make the film and bring it into your process.

I’m not certain where you are with everything right now - but I do want to help you. The 3880 is a great Epson printer. But a 3880 with an electrical problem or a head problem is not a good printer no matter! You can alway send us by mail, the nozzle check and we can evaluate it for you. We can tell if the print head is perfect or is dying or has permanently defective nozzles.

The only installation issue was that I didn’t flush all the epson inks out after I installed your inks. I took care of that 3 days ago by doing 4 power cleans and many head cleanings.

Please clarify what a “manual” nozzle check is. The only way I know how to do a nozzle check is through the Epson print utility. Is that what you are talking about? If not, please instruct. Once I make it, I will upload it.

I am still left wondering what printer you use to make your digital negatives with.

Thanks for your help.

Hi Roxanne,

There is a nozzle check you can do at the printer’s LCD panel which prints how a sheet of checkerboard squares… NOT THAT ONE! :slight_smile:

Use the one that prints the rows of cascading lines…from the Epson Printer Utility.

I used an Epson R2880 which is a 13" desktop. But, I do not make digital negatives right now.

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your help. I am going to mail you the latest nozzle check, and also some of the Pictorico step wedges I printed using the QTR print tool and driver. Unfortunately, it appears my scanner is not a reliable tool right now, so it would be a waste of time to judge from an upload here.

I am also going to send two comparison prints from the front paper feeder. I was curious to see if the QTR print tool/Epson driver would give me the same ink spray issues that the QTR driver did. It did not, so whatever that means, you can take a look and give me your thoughts on it. This was not to look for banding, only for the ink spray issue. Maybe it’s the wrong approach, but I was thinking it might be a way to test out the QTR driver as the culprit. I will also enclose a step wedge that shows a fuzzy border that is 1 7/8" from the top edge of the paper. I know you had said 1 1/2" clearance was needed. Just more info~don’t know what it indicates.

Hi Roxanne~ Please mail some test prints and a printed nozzle check for me to examine, then I will better know what is going on and can let you know what I see and how to fix it.
Be sure to label your samples clearly so I know the factors related to that print. I have included my address below, and will let you know once I have received and reviewed your prints, though will be out of the office at SPE later next week.

Attn: Dana/testing
17 Powder Spring Rd
Topsham VT 05076