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For the first time, I'm going to print a few pictures in the 90*60cm format (about 35*23"). I have a choice between different kind of process (=printing + framing), including different kind of papers for the process using them. Is it possible to have simulations of the final rendering to compare the possibilities and pick the one I want ?

I know it is possible to soft-proof different kind of printed paper but what about alternative support, such as :

  • Canvas
  • Aluminium (Dibond®)
  • Plexiglass
  • Plastic (forex)
  • Carton
  • ...

Moreover, some support are very sensitive to lighting, so light position should probably be simulated too.

The following question/answers are related :

By "soft-proofing", I mean having a simulation of what an observer will see once the support is hanged on a wall.

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Just some opinions.

1) The provider should show you a real example of the finished products. He should have a phisical catalog.

2) You should take some decisions. Some psicological studies show that if one people only has one option, "take or leave it" he is usually more happy with the choice of having that, than other people that is shown many options. I would call that "The what if syndrome" Inclusive you can end with nothing at all.

3) You are the costumer. I don't think any one would make they're own pizza to simulate the flavor of some brand, or construct a car to simulate one. Ask for samples, go to a supplier on your zone and see, go to a decoration store and take a look.


Regarding your original question yes, that can be simulated with the help of a good 3D artist, using phisical based materials and physically correct lighting and render engine.

The problem is... Is the provider going to provide you with the index of refraction of the materials, the specifications of the thickness, reflectivness, transitance, etc? The diffussion of the printed surface, the color profile, the type of dyes used?

I do not think so. So the artist could use... a phisical sample!

Now you need a physical sample and pay to the 3D artist, which also need to model the lighting conditions and the room itself.

If it is a big project it is cheaper doing that simulation. But I do not think this case is.

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Soft-proofing only will give you what you already explained: A simulation in a completely different environment. And unless you are already provided with them from the printing company, you probably will not get authentic ones, since only they know exactly what medium they use and maybe have a unique technique.

Since you seem to want to compare the quality of the different mediums in a quite precise and authentic manner, you ultimately want to print out a few samples.
Maybe you can print out smaller images to save a bit of money. You could also just take a shot with the process that sounds best to you.

The quality probably is good enough for all of them, so you might want to priorize other aspects such as durability, reflection and so on.

  • Thanks for your answer. I know the best way is to order small samples but I'm wondering what is out there to simulate it. If you just try paper+plexiglass, you have already plenty of combinations : type of paper, type of plexiglass, thickness of plexiglass. If you have 3 papers, 2 plexiglass and 2 thickness, you have to order 3*2*2 = 12 samples ! – Olivier Aug 24 '15 at 17:22
  • I know it is tempting to try out everything. But just order a few combinations that you think might work and go on from there. You only need one that works good enough, if you are honest. ;) – J0hj0h Aug 25 '15 at 1:27
  • fair enough, I'm not going to print an image worth of 1000s of dollars, so I have indeed ordered a few samples. But I'm sure software should be able to do it, maybe no one so far deemed this work to be of interest – Olivier Aug 25 '15 at 4:15
  • You can only get so close to simulating colors on another display, since for one the other device simply might not display the same gamut and also because you would need to know exactly how to translate the colors. It probably simply is not worth the effort. – J0hj0h Aug 25 '15 at 18:45
  • The same issues (gamut, color managment) are present with printed paper, yet you can soft-proof it. I guess the real hard problems are the lighting and the properties of the different material (absorbtion, refraction,...) – Olivier Aug 25 '15 at 18:53

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