I've been plagued with dark printouts since I started papercrafting. I've tried a couple tweaks to the settings, but ink isn't exactly cheap, and the printouts weren't unusable, so I kind of settled for what I got. Well, now that I have a continuous ink system hooked up, the ink should be a lot less expensive so I decided to actually solve my dark printout problem.
I use a Canon Pixma MX870 printer.
Here's a shot of what I would normally get out of my printer.
Next, I changed the printing to be "Photo Printing" rather than "Regular". This changed the options available to me. Most notably, "Color/Intensity Manual Adjustment". Still with "Matte Photo Paper", I checked the "Color/Intensity" checkbox and tweaked two things. First, I set the Brightness setting to "Light" rather than "Normal". Second, I adjusted the "Intensity" from 0 to -10 (making the image lighter). Here's a sample of that:
The image is a little blurry, but I think it's a great improvement over the previous image. You can start to see more of the color on the sides, and the images on the inside are more true to the original image.
Next, I changed the "Intensity" to -20. Here's what that looked like:
Here's "Intensity" at -40:
OK. I'm not sure there's much visible difference given my crummy photos. In person, I can say that the -40 intensity really lets the shadows come out in the photo rather than be overwhelmed by the overall darkness. The Vivid Photo setting turned the neutral green color into a toxic green color, which isn't quite what I'd be going for.
I'm going to have a go at printing the Hinterland Cliffs set out using this setting, and I'll post pics comparing my existing Hinterland tiles to the new tiles.