Most photographers prefer to print their photos themselves not only because this is faster way, but certainly due to the fact that this leads to a complete control of the results. You have probably decided to buy a certain type of inkjet printer in function of the size of pictures you usually print. If you have purchased an Epson A2 printer or larger (recently, the manufacturer added the two most recent Epson A3+ models too), this review about the print software "Mirage" might interest you.
What does the "Mirage" software exactly do? The skilled photographer, designer or artist can do in Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign exactly the same as Mirage does, but it is good to know that this software can handle some of these actions in an amazing short time and moreover, in a very convenient way, which are certainly 2 important points to keep in mind. Your print workflow will have a boost due to simplify some actions where you, as a photographer, will spend a long time over or where the print driver might fail a few times.
Let me give you an example:
You have an Epson 4900 printer and you print on roll. A customer is asking for some photos to print in different sizes and quantities. Without the Mirage software, you would open the pictures in Photoshop, put them in the correct format and then you would start to place them on a fictitious sheet that will be printed. With Mirage you only need to open the photos, fill in the correct size and quantity and the software puts everything nicely on the page. If you would like to arrange the page differently, it is still possible. Do you want a border around every picture (so called "border marks") or a "calibration bar", it’s just a mouse click away.
Mirage is a program that you can approach as a standalone program, as well as plug-in within Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. Depending on your version of OS (both Windows and Mac) and your version of Adobe, this package is fully compatible. If everything is up to date, you should not worry at all. If that isn’t the case, just go to the manufacturer’s website to see if your versions are compatible.
So if you are using an A2 (or larger) Epson printer, you can use Mirage. The program contains drivers for the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 to 11880. Moreover, the manufacturer recently added the most recent A3+ models from Epson (R2880 & R3000).
DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION
The installation of Mirage is in the same line as all other programs: download the program on the manufacturer's website and follow the installation wizard.
But there are a few points of attention:
- If you have purchased the software with a serial number, this can only be used on ONE pc.
- During the installation, your computer must be connected to the Internet.
- No USB sticks or "dongles" may be connected to your pc during installation.
Once everything is properly installed, you can start using the program. As a Mac user, I will just explain the method I use on my computer, but for Windows-users there are probably not so much differences.
Personally, I find it easier to use the program as a plug-in (rather than as a standalone version), but this is more a habit than a real reason. Once all of my pictures are open in Photoshop and they are ready to print, I go to "Automate / Mirage Print All" (if you want to print only the selected picture, you can just choose “Mirage Print”).
If you use Illustrator or Indesign, go to "File / Print All Mirage".
The basic window of Mirage opens automatically and this is were everything happens. This window is divided into a large window, the main window, and a smaller window that is called "documents" where you see all the pictures you are going to print with their quantity and size.
In the main window at the top, there are 3 options:
- Your Printer
- Your type of photo paper
- The quality that you will print
Selecting your printer is easy and even if you might buy a new printer in the future, it is easy to add. Simply click "Settings" at the top and add your printer.
To select your paper, it is as easy as selecting your printer. By default, all Epson papers are installed. If you print occasionally on non-Epson photo papers, you can manually add them with the ICC profile of the manufacturer. You can also add a profile that you've created with your own calibrator.
The default quality setting is fine. So I suggest leaving it as it is.
SETTINGS & USE
At the left sight, you will see all the settings, which will allow you to create the prints you want. At the top everything starts with the basics: "Paper" - select your size. Do you work with a printer that doesn’t have a roll holder, such like the Epson 3880, then you don’t get the option to print on "a roll" but just "cut sheet". With "standard size" a selected format of paper size can be chosen. By default, all DIN ISO A, B & US formats are installed and even some common image formats. But if you have a paper size that isn’t listed, you can manually enter the size here. Here lies the greatest power of Mirage: the software has no maximum length of paper (print drivers only accept up to 30000 pixels). In case you would like to print the full length of your roll, it is perfectly possible.
If you have a printer that has a paper roll, you will get some extra options there that will allow to instruct the printer where to cut the paper.
- Do not cut: The cutter inside the printer will not work and you will have to cut the paper yourself.
- Cut After Series: If a picture is printed multiple times, the cutter will cut after each series.
- Cut Twice After Each Series: The cutter will cut the upper and lower end after each series. Every image will be cut borderless at top and bottom side.
- Cut Roll (Photoshop Only): Cut the printout after the whole picture has been printed.
- Roll - Cut after Job (Indesign Only): Cut the printout after the whole job has finished printing.
The next step in the process is the "Image size". Now, you will have to use the little window "documents". If you first select “all images” and give then the desired size, all images will receive this format. If you select only one photo, only this image will receive that size.
"Border" and "Rotation": with the option “border”, you can add a border around the photos in the desired thickness and color. "Rotation" will rotate your picture in 5 steps: no rotation, 90°, 180°, 270° and rotate automatically. With the last option, the software selects the best page arrangement in relation to your paper size.
The newest addition to the software is "Crop". This allows you to crop the pictures you want to print. Personally, I do not use this option, because this step is already incorporated into my workflow before I start printing.
"Position" is the part where you are going to determine where your photo must be on the page. You can choose from several options like: center horizontally on the page, center on the printable page (unless you choose borderless printing, each page has a minimum edge required) and of course you can also manually place your image.
It's not a good idea to print borderless because it consumes more ink and ink droplets will inevitably fall next to your page. This will cause damage to your printer with cleaning cost as result.
The "Placement" seems simple, but it is really brilliant. Although at first sight, there is much to choose, you can select your perfect grid and all your selected photos will be placed automatically on one or more pages. If you want to have only one photo per page, you can also determine that in this option.