Preventing printer anomalies and banding



Level: Intermediate (useful for advanced users)


This is a tutorial on how to minimize printing anomalies like banding and odd color variations. Incidentaly, this tutorial covers some photo correction technique which can be very usefull for adding detail back to images.

Photoshop Version: CS2 (Can apply to Earlier versions up to Photoshop 7)


I have come upon a technique for reducing printer anomalies (Banding, color patches and ghosting) that is really quite simple.

When I say “banding” I mean where you visibly see color changes in a gradient or image as you can see here:

When I say “ghosting” I mean areas of light color around dark color areas which shows up when printing but not on screen. An example is shown here:

The main technique is to add enough noise. Adding noise to a gradient will reduce printer banding. This is also true for areas of solid color — adding a bit of noise can make the color print very even.

When it comes to photos, this technique can be used to give the appearance of detail. I use this after I have resized and color corrected a photo. It is amazing how effective it is in making the print a much nicer print.

Realize when I am talking about printing here, I am specifically referring to large format printers. The technique can be used successfully with other printers as well.

When you add noise, you want to add just enough to where it is just past visible. I will show you some examples here:

Noise added to a gradient:

Noise added to a patch of color:

Noise added to an image:

Additionally you can reduce ghosting by adding noise. Ghosting is where you can see lighter areas around dark patches. An example of adding noise to an image that might ghost when printed is here:

Experiment with your printer and different noise settings to see what comes out the best.

I have found this technique to be very helpful on my job as a designer. Hopefully this tutorial will help you as well.