What printer / setting to use for printing ref. photo?

Hi all,

I am looking for some best practises for printing photo references. Now I use a simple HP printer, but the quality of the photo’s is really poor. For me it works best if I have an actual photo in hardcopy present so I can do easier colour matching (I use pastel pencils), instead of having a ref. photo on the laptop only. Bottom line: I need a good quality and high-definition photo, preferably one I can print myself at home. Perhaps anyone with some tips and tricks? (Type of printer, paper and settings?). Thank you very much!


Hi Miriam,

I also use prints often when I draw, mostly because I need that reference picture, not so much for colors cuz for now I draw in graphite.
I have a Brother DPC-L3510CDW series, laserprinter and I think it’s worth it.
The quality of the pictures is more than decent although it’s not a photo printer.
So that’s something to think about, if you only use it to print photos you might wanna check in that category (cuz the colors will be beter) but if you use it for printing papers as well it’s not a bad printer.
It’s a little pricey and pretty big but very easy to use and very reliable.
It’s a printer u would see in an office.
Also has WiFi which is super handy.
(Ink last a very long time I feel, I bought extra ink when I bought the printer cuz the ink in there was only half full, but I’m still using that ink almost a year later)

I haven’t fooled around with the color settings yet but I’m sure I could tune it a little better for color references if I need to.

Small Tip, if u wanna print a photo for an A3 size or bigger I use blockposters. A website where u can choose any size for your picture and choose on how many A4 papers u want it. So A3 would be 2 A4 papers in landscape or portrait mode and u can print it out immediately for free :wink:

Good luck
SlippyPaints :orange_heart:

thank you for your advice, I will definitely look into it!

you could have it printed at a copy store? I know the staples near me will print a photo from a flash drive. Depending on how many photos you do, might be cheaper than buying a more expensive printer?

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Are you setting it to “High Quality” when you print? The default is normal, and then draft is the lowest quality. Also, what is the quality of your reference photo, and what size are you printing? These are all factors when printing. (as well as inkjet vs laser)

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A good laser printer should come with a color profile ICC file which you can also get for your display for most mainstream display manufacturers. Get those set up so what you see on the display matches what comes out of the printer without black/grey and bright yellows, reds, greens, blues, etc beyond tinted or over/under stated. Convert image to CYMK to touch up for preview prior to printing to see if that helps.

Correctly color calibrated devices (camera, display, printer) can be done very close by eye one at a time and saving those profiles if you can’t find the calibration file to load or if your display has yellowed a bit from extensive on time (happens after a few years, especially the non-LED illuminated)

You could also email it to a local photo store to actually print it on photo paper at 8x10 if you let them know the colors if it isn’t obvious, and that would be the best possible output compared to a laser printer if getting super picky about it, for about $10 or less per photo print, compared to $1/laser print at the UPS Store. Email should include the color profile or hints for them to calibrate against if there aren’t black and true grey (81%/19% neutral grey to avoid cold/warm grey issues). You can get a 4x6" photo printed for just a couple dollars, and you can also get one photo printed at 11"x17" or larger but beyond 8x10" the price rises quite dramatically.

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