Print Quality issues: Incorrect or missing colours or lines on printed images

RELATES TO:

  • Print quality problems where an image appears to have a colour cast
  • Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8
  • Mac OS X
  • Epson Stylus A4, A3, A3+ Inkjet printer range

EXPLANATION:


When printing from a computer, the printed document or image may appear to have a coloured cast that is not shown on the original image. The sample images below are examples of colour casting.


Original Cyan cast Magenta cast

SOLUTION:


If you are having print quality problems, follow the steps below to investigate the possible cause of a colour cast on your printed image(s) and how to troubleshoot the issue.


1. Use the Nozzle Check utility to check the print head nozzles

Colour casting can be caused by blocked nozzles on the print head. Make sure that you are using genuine Epson ink cartridges (see Why should I use genuine Epson ink cartridges?).

You may be able to identify the problem by checking the print head nozzles, if any colours are will determine if any of the nozzles are blocked. You can check the print head nozzles from your computer by using the Nozzle Check utility. Performing a nozzle check will determine if any of the nozzles are blocked.

A nozzle check can be printed directly through the printer driver on a computer. Click on 'Show' to reveal some steps on how to do this.


  1. Make sure that plain, A4 size paper is loaded in the sheet feeder/paper tray. Also, make sure your paper is not damaged, dirty, or too old; and that it's dry and the printable side is facing up.

  2. Open the printer driver's maintenance and utility section.
    • Windows 98, Windows ME:
      • Click on Start > Settings > Printers. In the Printers folder, right-click on the Epson printer icon, then left-click on Properties. A new window appears, click on the Maintenance tab.
    • Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000:
      • Click on Start > Control Panel. In Control Panel, open Printers / Printers and Faxes / Printers and Other Hardware > View installed printers and fax printers. In the printers folder, right-click on the Epson printer icon, and then left-click on Printing Preferences. The Printing Preferences window appears. Click on the Maintenance tab from along the top of the window.
    • Windows 8:
      • Move the mouse cursor to the bottom or top-right of the screen and click the Search icon from the menu that appears. Type Control panel in the Search bar and press Enter. In Control Panel double-click Devices and Printers (Small/Large icon view) or click View devices and printers (Category view). In the printers folder, right-click on the Epson printer icon, and then left-click on Printing Preferences. The Printing Preferences window appears. Click on the Maintenance tab from along the top of the window.
    • Mac OS X:
      • Open the Mac OS X Hard Drive. Browse to Applications\Epson Printer Utility or \Applications\Utilities\ and double-click on the Epson Printer Utility icon. Select your printer from the list if prompted.
    • Mac OS 7.6 - 9.2:
      • Access the Print or Page Setup dialog box via the File menu of your printing application. Click the Utility icon button.

  3. Click on Nozzle Check and follow the on-screen instructions to print a nozzle check confirmation pattern.

    Windows Mac OS X
     
    Mac OS 7.6 - 9.2  
     


  4. When the check has printed, compare the printout to the examples below:

    Good nozzle check sample
    (print head does not need cleaning)
    Poor nozzle check sample (print head needs to be cleaned)


    If there are no print quality problems, such as gaps or missing segments in the test lines, the print head is fine. Move to step 2.


    If there are breaks in the printed pattern, such as missing segments or lines/streaks (depending on the type of nozzle check pattern), or a missing colour, this indicates that the issue is related to the print head, e.g. a clogged ink nozzle or a misaligned print head. and/or ink cartridge (e.g. old cartridge, non-genuine Epson or refilled ink cartridge). If a colour is not printing at all, there will be a colour imbalance that will cause a 'colour cast' effect.

    The solution is to run through a series of head cleans. Refer to one of the following articles for further assistance:


2. Check the age of the ink cartridges

Avoid using old or damaged ink cartridges. If the cartridges have been installed in the printer for longer than 6 months then you may see a decrease in print quality over time. We recommend you use up ink cartridge within six months of opening the vacuum package and before the best before date shown on its retail packaging. Replace any old or damaged ink cartridges with new, genuine Epson cartridges for best printing results.


If a cartridge has been installed in the printer for longer than 6 months, then over time the ink from the cartridge may start to dry out and cause ink to become clogged in the printer. You may see a decrease in print quality if any nozzles on the print head are clogged with ink. This can result in missing colours, which in turn results in a colour cast.


3. Use suitable paper

When printing photographs using the correct media is essential. To ensure you get the best quality from your Epson printer, we recommend you use only paper recommended by Epson. Epson offers specially-designed paper and other print media for all your printing needs.


Use only one of the recommended Epson paper types with your printer. To ensure you get the best quality from your Epson printer, you should use genuine Epson ink and media. Some non-genuine Epson papers are made for inkjet printers which heat the ink before transferring it to the page, thus the paper coating is manufactured to bond with this hot ink and fuse it to the page, potentially resulting in poor print quality and colour casts.

The end results from third-party media are often not favourable when compared with prints made on genuine Epson papers. Epson printers are very carefully tuned to ensure Epson inks and Epson's Micro Piezo™ print head produce the best quality prints using carefully selected Epson paper. See your printer's user guide for a list of suitable Epson paper.


4. Use genuine Epson ink cartridges

Epson recommends the use of genuine Epson ink cartridges. Epson cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-genuine ink. The use of non-genuine ink may cause damage that is not covered by Epson’s warranties, and under certain circumstances, may cause erratic printer behaviour. Information about non-genuine ink levels may not be displayed, and use of non-genuine ink is recorded for possible use in service support.


5. Use suitable printer driver settings

A colour cast can also be software related. Before printing you will be given the option to go into the Printer Properties or Printing Preferences in Windows, Print Settings in Mac OS X, or access the settings via Print in Mac OS 7.6 - 9.2.

From here you can alter settings which control the printer. Make sure the correct settings are in effect for the type of print you are sending to the printer e.g. the paper type and quality.


See the screenshots below for an example of a typical Epson printer driver dialog box.

Windows Mac OS X
 
Mac OS 7.6 - 9.2  
 


6. Try using Epson photo printing software: Easy Photo Print and PhotoQuicker

If you are experiencing print quality problems when printing photos from your computer, we recommend that you print your images using Epson's own printing software. EPSON Easy Photo Print and EPSON PhotoQuicker are examples of Epson software you could use.


These programs are easy to use with a step-by-step layout, and handy image adjustment options to help you get a great-looking print without altering your original image. You can download this software from the Drivers & Software section of your product on the Epson Support website.

If you are experiencing a colour cast with either of these software programs, check the settings applied to the image such as any available in the Image Correct or Enhance sections. Here, there are 'Auto Correct' options that include PIM (Print Image Matching) and Photo Enhance.

The Photo Enhance feature is handy and several options are available. If you're experiencing a colour cast or the colours don't look right, try selecting an option which better-suits the subject matter of your image (e.g. 'Landscape' or 'People'). If you are able to select the PIM option, select this to give you prints that will closely match the original image (as it uses information from your camera when you took the photo, such as white balance and mode). Make the appropriate selections and finish making other settings, such as an appropriate print quality and a paper type that matches the paper loaded in your printer, then select 'Print' when ready.


7. Guidance for Photoshop users: colour matching in Photoshop

If you are printing using Photoshop, we recommend viewing the following articles for tips and guidance:


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