Monday, July 2, 2012

Breathing Color Lyve – The Best Canvas I’ve Ever Used (Discount Offer)

I despise printing on canvas because almost every product I’ve seen has a poor tonal range, mediocre DMax, and loses so much detail that I detest the final print. This is why when I was contacted by BreathingColor.com in January about testing Lyve Canvas, I was totally uninterested. However, they insisted that I’d like their canvas and that even Apple computer legend Bill Atkinson had been impressed with their Lyve Canvas.

While it took me a little while to get the results I desired, I did end up generating my favorite canvas print I’ve seen of my own work using this product. While I wouldn’t say I’m a huge canvas fan now, I do appreciate having a product that allows me to get exhibition quality results.

Frames are expensive so I also love the idea of a gallery wrap. As a result, I’ve used RediPix.com (dazzle review) when want to avoid the headache of doing a wrap myself. However, as good as they are (and I’d put them as the best third party solution), I’d really rather print my own images so I can have the control of the final output that I enjoy with all of my other print substrates. I’m able to do that with Lyve Canvas, and their EasyWrappe product allows me to get good results without a lot of hassle.

Printing to the Epson 4900 from Photoshop CS5

Printing on canvas is much more of a challenge than other substrates until you get a workflow you can trust for consistent results. I experimented with using the no ICC profile directions as well as using their ICC profile (Option #2 on the Color Management tab at http://www.breathingcolor.com/action/bc_shop/141/), and I can certainly say that using a color profile makes a positive improvement on the print results. That said, I disagree with their media type choice when using a Epson 4900. I preferred the results I obtained using the Exhibition Canvas Matte media type as shown below:

I highly recommend using the Exhibition Canvas Matte media type
I highly recommend using the Exhibition Canvas Matte media type

I also deviated from their settings and went with quality level 5 (although 4 yielded good results too):

My preferred settings
My preferred settings

The profile generated by Breathing Color was made for the 7900 & 9900 which shares the same print head technology and ink set as the 4900, but I’ve consistently found 4900’s to produce different print results than its bigger siblings. As a result, I experimented with generating a custom profile which did obtain better results. However, I found that if I used the Breathing Color profile with the color density set to -10 then I didn’t get any ink puddling or images that were too dark.

4900’s need a -10 Color Density
4900’s need a -10 Color Density with Breathing Color’s ICC Profile
Click Paper Config on the Epson Windows Driver to change this setting

Below are my Adobe Photoshop CS6 Print Settings. I mostly use the Relative Colormetric rendering intent with Epson printers, but for this image I preferred perceptual. For all of my other prints I preferred Relative Colormetric, so I’d say go for that unless you see a need to give Perceptual a try.

Photoshop CS6 Print Settings
Photoshop CS6 Print Settings
I mostly use the Relative Colormetric rendering intent with Epson printers, but for this image I preferred perceptual. For all of my other prints I preferred Relative Colormetric.

In case you aren’t used to printing on canvas, be sure that you set the printer to NOT CUT the canvas as shown here for the PC driver (via the roll paper option button):

Always do Auto Cut OFF for Canvas
Always do Auto Cut OFF for Canvas

For more information on printing tips and suggestions, visit http://www.breathingcolor.com/blog/ or http://www.breathingcolor.com/page/bc-academy/.

Apple Mac OS X Dialogs

If you are on a Mac, the same rules from above apply, but here’s what your dialogs will look like:

I highly recommend using the Exhibition Canvas Matte media type
I highly recommend using the Exhibition Canvas Matte media type

4900’s need a -10 Color Density with Breathing Color’s ICC Profile
4900’s need a -10 Color Density with Breathing Color’s ICC Profile

Always do Auto Cut OFF for Canvas
Always do Auto Cut OFF for Canvas

Ordering Recommendations

See my special offer below when ordering, but in addition to getting the Lyve Canvas I think the following additional products are worth adding to your cart:

  • A pint of Timeless print varnish in Matte, Satin or Gloss (I prefer gloss). This protects the ink on your canvas from scratching off easily and gives the print that extra oomph that it lacks with just ink alone.
  • Timeless Roller Kit – While you may think that this is just a simple roller kit you can buy from your local hardware store, I appreciated the fact that this was sealed and was dust free. You’ll hate life if you use a roller with dust or loose fibers, so I highly recommend this kit. 
  • EasyWrappe 1.25” or 1.75” PRO (Trial Kits available) to wrap your canvas without a bunch of tools or hassle.

I had a EasyWrappe Cutting Device which seemed like a good idea, but I find an X-Acto knife and a ruler to be a better bet for my needs.

Breathing Color makes other great products, so you might want to toss one of their Sample Packs in while you are paying for shipping anyway.

Conclusion

Overall, I like this product enough that I might give canvas a try more often than I had in the past. I still prefer non-canvas products, but there are lots of customers who request canvas so it’s nice to have a product I can offer with confidence.

I don’t recommend printing with their recommended settings on a Epson 4900. If you find the ICC profile that they use to be unsatisfactory, then you can ask Paul Morales in their support department to send you the ronmartblog.com Lyve Canvas ICC profile.

The support staff of BreathingColor.com is very helpful and friendly, so if you aren’t getting the results you expect then just contact them! You can also find lots of great self-help videos at http://www.breathingcolor.com/page/bc-academy/.

I do not recommend printing on canvas sheets, so if you want to do canvas then I strongly advise you to use rolls on roll capable printers like the Epson Stylus® Pro 4900 and Canon iPF6300. As a result, I would not advise this product for Epson 3880 users.

While my Canon iPF6300 is my most frequently used printer, I did not get a chance to try this product on my Canon due to time constraints.

Special Offer – Try Lyve Canvas for only $9.00+S&H!

Save $20 off Breathing Color Purchases with the ronmartblog.com Promo Code
Save $20 off Breathing Color Purchases with our Promo Code

Click here to visit BreathingColor.com and enter the promo code RMP20 when checking out to get a $20 discount for any $20 or more item. This will only work once per customer and is good through the end of 2012. Codes and offers can change, so if this doesn’t work then check out our discount coupon code page for updated offer details and codes.

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Disclosure

I was solicited to review this product and was given test products for the purpose of doing this review. I was not required to write a review and I was not influenced beyond getting free products for testing and helpful support.

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3 comments:

Marshall said...

Ron: I have used nothing but Breathing Color Lyve for about two years. Prior to that canvas was totally uninspiring to work with. It was a bit like "take a great photo and make it fuzzy". But, the Lyve is quite amazing. I realize you aren't particularly a "canvas fan" but I have produced prints of some subjects (not to mention traditional painted art reproductions) that are better than those same subjects on paper. The Dmax is incredible on the Lyve product and with a few extra processing tricks (sharpening, for example) some photos really shine. After a while you get to learn what subjects work with canvas and what don't. And, if you want to get 'crazy', do a black and white on Lyve...

Dark Wraith said...

I found this article just a little over a year after you published it. I want to start producing and selling canvas wraps, but not with the prices being charged by the print houses. I share your desire to have full control over the output, too, so this article has been a one-stop, tell-everything to get me on my way. I greatly appreciate what you've provided, here.

betty said...

I am a fine-art photographer who mostly prints on photo paper and I just purchased the BC sample kit with the Lyve canvas. I found your site as I did a google search for using the BC product with an Epson 4900 printer which I own. I followed your advice exactly...and the results exceeded my expectations. I have never printed on canvas before and I was surprised at how easy it was, thanks to your detailed instructions. I love the product and I'm looking forward to doing more printing on canvas.