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Thread: Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

  1. #1

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Just curious if anyone has found a good alternative to Pictorico OHP for printing digital negatives using the Epson 4800 with K3 inks for contact printing processes that use UV light?

    I love Pictorico for my own personal use, but in the class I teach I find that it is very difficult for the students to get it in a timely manner. Our school store can not afford to order the minimum quantity that Pictorico requires so we don't carry it, and there are no local suppliers in my state. I am searching for an alternative that would be readily available or that our store could order. I have only tried other name brand OHP made by Epson, Canon, and HP, and found them all terrible for this purpose.

    Thanks in advance for your ideas!

  2. #2

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    I've been reading/hearing from several sources (e.g. the alt-photo-process list) that inkjet paper negatives work well for alt processes that use UV light. It is surprising, but I keep hearing people talk about using paper instead of plastic transparencies. I haven't tried it yet, but it would be worth experimenting.

    Bromoil artist David Lewis apparently likes the basic Kirkland paper sold by Costco.** I believe carbon printer Andrea Zalme uses paper negatives too-- search these archives-- she may have mentioned the brand here under the carbon print section, or visit her amazing website-- she may have some info there. Andrea, are you there?

    Paper sure is an appealing alternative to Pictorico! Think 14 cents a sheet instead of ?? (a lot more)

    ** This is a silver printing process, not requiring UV light, though.

  3. #3

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Apologies for taking a while to post a response, but I kind of found this thread by accident. Been pretty busy the last little while.

    As to using paper negatives, in my experience it is a very viable alternative to substrates like Pictorico. In fact, for all of the testing and most of the prints I have made this year, I have been using HP1620B as a material for negatives. Costs me about $70.00 for a roll of 36in x 150ft and is locally available from Staples.

    Plain Epson Photo Paper works even better but it is also more expensive, but still nowhere near as costly as the plastic substrate.

    I have tested probably about a dozen and a half papers and find that the coated inkjet stock seems to work the best. The negatives are waxed with beeswax although paraffin works as well. Paraffin gives me a slightly more transparent negative but I find that beeswax gives me a smoother appearance to the final print.

    Different papers also produce their own individual grain patterns in the final print and this could be used to advantage if you like to experiment with textures as a part of the print. Some papers have a very fine unobtrusive grain while others produce a grain pattern that is much coarser and more pronounced. A lot of leeway for artistic latitude here if that is your inclination.

    My negatives have been produced on both the Epson 3000 and 5000 using third party dye inks. I tried some pigment inks at one time but found that they gave me less density. The only thing to do is to experiment to find what works the best in your particular situation.

    The bottom line though, is that in my own lab environment, paper negatives have worked surprisingly well for testing and proofing. Retesting will need to be done when you move to your final materials, but by then you will probably have a much better feel for the lay of the land.

    Thanks also for the plug for my website. I'm glad you like it. I have much, much more material to upload but I find it's a slow process and will take some time.



  4. #4

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Thanks, Andrea. I wasn't sure if you'd be checking this forum but I'm glad you stumbled on this thread. I was curious about this, too, and probably would have tried dropping you a personal message if you hadn't replied eventually. Good info-- thanks again!

  5. #5

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Great suggestions, and thanks so much for the feedback.

    I plan to experiment with paper negatives in my classes next quarter based on what was said here to try and save the time and frustration of waiting for the delivery guy to show up before we can do anything in the darkroom. Sounds like the paper is more for the proofing and the final prints still do work best on Pictorico, but anything that saves us from $2/sheet mistakes while learning is great in my book.

    Cross your fingers!

  6. #6

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    I've played around with some inexpensive inkjet vellum paper I bought at WalMart.
    It does work but the detail just isn't there. I recently started using Pictorio OHP and the exposures with the vellum are a bit longer.

    Cheaper so you could use it to let them practice technique I suppose.

  7. #7

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by rwyoung
    I've played around with some inexpensive inkjet vellum paper I bought at WalMart.
    It does work but the detail just isn't there.
    Did you wax the vellum paper negatives?

  8. #8

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Don't forget that there are also the factors of dot gain and ink bleed to consider. Some of the papers I have tried showed serious amounts of wicking.

    The paper negative may also show somewhat of a lower overall contrast if I remember correctly. I don't believe your ink density would change much if you switch from mylar to paper but the paper will have the equivalent of a much greater base fog level.


  9. #9

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    I discovered your name here at F295 when doing a search on Google for
    Picterico OHP. I was interested in a comment Gneissgirl had made about how
    you are having success at using paper negatives for carbon. I had intended
    on emailing you and asking about it when I saw your post from Sept 4th.
    Thank you for sharing your results.

    It was your website that really got my attention. What a great site for promoting carbon printing. It is obvious that you have put a lot of effort
    into it, I've found it very helpful.

    It is very kind of you to share all that carbon information, not many are doing it for free. I have been working toward printing carbon for the last 7 months or so and I've been making my own tissues with some success. I was fascinated to see that you had some of the same problems I did. Keeping my galvanized sheet flat can be a real problem. So thanks for explaining how you solved the problem, I love the idea of using a steel radiator but where did you find one?

    I was really surprised to read you had the same issues with pigment
    dispersal as I did. (We think everything we go through is unique to each one
    of us I guess, well at least I do) Anyway, I find getting my pigment to
    disperse evenly is a real problem too. On your site you indicate that you
    measure out your pigment and set in the water bath, "Going directly to the
    tissue at this point seems to result in an unevenness of the distribution of
    pigment." What is that you do that gets the pigment to distribute evenly?

    You close one page of your website with this teaser, "The platens, printing
    methodology, and specialized Photoshop templates that are designed for
    testing, proofing, and printing will be described in greater detail in a
    subsequent series of papers that describe my entire printing system.I
    for one can't wait.

    If you dont mind I'll post this email to F295 so others can share in your


    Peter Cane
    Annapolis MD

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you very much for your comments concerning my website. It's much appreciated and I am glad to hear that someone is gaining some benefit from it.

    The radiator I am using came from a local Princess Auto outlet. They have stores all across Canada, but I don't know if there is any equivalent in your area. Maybe check out their web site and it might give you an idea of what to look for where you live. Auto wreckers and Pic-Your-Part type of outlets may be another place to look.

    Pigment dispersal is often a problem and sometimes not easily solved. I have expanded the explanation on the web site somewhat, so that may give you a bit of an answer. Gelatin seems to have a memory of sorts, in that even though the freshly poured gel looks absolutely flat and smooth, it appears to be able to remember the initial pour pattern and have it show up when the tissue dries. I found that when I poured it into a little cup and let it relax for a moment or two, it seemed to be a somewhat better behaved. At least in my method of inverse casting of the tissue. It also appears to depend a lot on the type of pigment you use and the pigment concentration of the tissue. I don't have the broad experience at this time to be able to give you a more specific recommendation. In addition, I have switched to making pre-sensitized tissue and found that doing so has changed the entire balance of the system. This has caused me to modify my technique somewhat. More on that in the future...

    As to the "Teaser" you mention, yes, I am working on posting more information to my website in the near future. I have been generating data at a faster pace than I have the time or energy to keep up with though, and have literally gigabytes of material to wade through. I am also not a writer and sometimes experience a bit of difficulty in trying to massage this material into a form that is cognizant and in a fashion that would make sense to anyone not intimately familiar with my way of practice. I am currently trying to get some new material ready for uploading, but there is still much to be done so it may take a little while.

    You are welcome to post this to f295 as well...and also check out the new carbon forum at, the folks there have an enormous amount of combined experience with carbon printing.



  10. #10

    Pictorico OHP, anyone found alternatives?

    Just one more note, because Kirkland (Costco) paper as a useful option for negatives for alt-processes is presently being discussed on the alt-photo-processes list. Here's a link to a comparison between scans of Pictorico OHP and Kirkland glossy paper made by Christina Z. Anderson and posted on Loris Medici's website.
    You can search the archives of this list for earlier messages about this at

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