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This is our guide to exporting fine art print quality files from Adobe Lightroom, ready for printing at Image Science.
It's actually fairly simple once you know, and perhaps even easier than Photoshop in some ways, especially if you want to bulk export multiple images all with the same settings.
Once you've completed editing your images in the 'Develop' module, click on the 'Print' module in the top right menu.
Once here you'll note there is a Film Strip at the bottom (if this is not showing, use the arrow on the bottom bar to make it show). The Film Strip allows you to select one or more images for printing.
There is also a central panel where you can preview your print setup, and a series of panels on the right that allow you to modify print settings.
In the 'Print Job' panel - which is the bottom panel in the print settings panels on the right of your screen - you'll need to choose to 'Print to: JPEG file'. (Lightroom oddly does not currently allow TIFF exports here, but carefully produced high quality JPEGs will not be any different in print).
Keep 'Draft Mode Printing' unchecked, set the file resolution to 360ppi (this is the optimal for our printers). You may choose to apply Print Sharpening here if you wish (although most sharpening does more harm than good, so we generaly recommend you either do not use it, or use only a small amount. Make sure that the JPEG quality level is set to the maximum (100).
Here's The Main Trick To Setting Up Correctly Sized Print Files in Lightroom:
Because we're not actually printing directly from Lightroom, it's crucial to check the 'Custom File Dimensions' box and set them to match the physical paper size you're printing on.
(This will override and cause Lightroom to ignore any 'Page Setup' settings dictated by any printer drivers you have installed). In this example we're setting up a print file as an A2 sheet, so the dimensions are 42 x 59.4cm (you enter the dimensions as width * height, and note you can put the dimensions in for landscape or portrait orientation, whichever you prefer - our systems deal with this automatically).
We generally recommend setting your output colour profile to Adobe RGB in the colour management panel, but feel free to choose any other RGB colour space if you prefer. We recommend setting the rendering intent to 'Relative' in almost all circumstances (more on that here). Keep 'Print Adjustment' unchecked.
Now click on the 'Guides' panel and make sure the boxes for rulers, margins and gutters, and dimensions are checked so you can double check that your page and image sizes are set up correctly, including your printable area.
In the 'Layout Style' settings make sure 'Single Image / Contact Sheet' is selected. The 'Picture Package' and 'Custom Package' options are designed for multi-image collages etc.
Next up go to the 'Image Settings' panel.
Here we recommend deselecting everything except 'Rotate to Fit'. This will make sure that your image is setup to print as large as possible without cropping your image.
If, instead, you'd like to fill the maximum printable area and definitely don't mind Lightroom cropping your image to do so, you can select 'Zoom to Fill.'
Next up head to the 'Layout' panel. Here we're going to make what Lightroom calls a 'cell' - to match the available printable area (we don't offer full bleed printing).
First, make sure that the page grid rows and columns are each set to 1. From there the easiest thing to do is set all the margins to zero and plug in the dimensions of the relevant printable area into the 'cell size' for the sheet size you're printing with us. See below for a full table of the printable areas to use for all our sheet sizes.
Our example here is for A2, which has a printable area of 40.6 x 55.8cm within an overall physical page size of 42 x 59.4cm.
Once those figures are punched in, you should see your image sitting comfortably within the page.
Note that the default here is for a centred layout, for something off centre you'll need to experiment with the individual margins (but be sure to keep the minimum margins on each side, or some of your image might not print).
(If you'd ultimately like a custom physical page size that is not any of the A-standard sizes we offer, see our article on setting up your files to be trimmed).
The Printable Areas for our sheet sizes are:
If you want prints larger than standard A2, you will need to use our roll printing service. You can choose prints on either 24 inch (61cm) rolls or 44 inch (111.7cm) rolls.
The Printable Areas across the width of our roll sizes are:
So as an example, to set up a 24" by 20" roll print:
Unless you are wanting to overlay some text, page numbers, chop marks or watermarks onto your page (not generally recommended), you'll just want to make sure that the page background colour is white here, and that the other boxes remain unchecked.
Finally all you have to do to generate your actual print ready files is to head back towards the bottom of the right hand side panels to the 'Print to File' button in the bottom right corner of your screen. Click this, and Lightroom will export your file(s).
Ideally, we recommend opening your file(s) in Photoshop (specifically to check the Image Size dialogue) - or you can use any other imaging application you have that lets you check the size tags. This is just to double check you got everything right before sending it through to us. But if you do get anything wrong, and we notice this at our end, we'll let you know, and you can have another crack at it if necessary!
Remember that ordering prints always involves two separate steps at Image Science:
(We keep these processes separate as it's much more reliable to handle these things separately, rather than uploading large files in the middle of a web checkout process).
- Matt O -
Thanks so much Jeremy. As always I’m very, very thankful for the advice you have given me over the years. Always impressed with your knowledge and ability to simplify it.