Ink-Saving Tips for Adult Coloring Enthusiasts
As you may have heard, I have a new book coming out this month and it’s something people have been asking for for quite some time–black background designs! There is just something about coloring in a black background that really makes your colors strikingly beautiful.
Since I have just posted the first free sample page from OrnaMENTALs™ Lights Out, I thought it would be helpful to also share some tips and tricks for saving ink when printing black-heavy pages like these. These tips will help you conserve ink and get better prints whether you are printing back background pages or regular coloring pages.
Of course, if printing isn’t possible for you, you’ll definitely want to be sure to get the printed book when it is out. So be sure to sign up so you don’t miss the early bird price announcement.
Laser Print If Possible
Laser printers use toner which is vastly more economical than ink jet printing. Laser printers are more affordable than ever, and you can find highly rated monochrome laser printers that only print black for anywhere from US$50-100 these days. If you reserve your inkjet for color printing only, and use a laser printer for printing your coloring pages, you’ll likely come out ahead in the long run as the cost of one ink replacement set for many inkjet printers can easily run $60 or more. If you don’t have the space to maintain two printers, plenty of color laser printers can be had for less than $200.
I went to a color laser back in 2008 when I realized I was rarely printing photos at home anymore and have never regretted it. My laser toner just lasts and lasts. I’m talking years! I recently printed about 100 pages from my upcoming book, and it only used about 10% of my black toner.
Laser printing has many more advantages. They are faster, quieter, more precise, and the prints you get will be sharp and crisp, with no ink bleed. If you color with alcohol markers, you may have noticed that they sometimes cause the printed black lines to smear or bleed. You won’t have this problem with laser printed toner.
Use a Print Shop or Library
Stephanie recently researched this subject and has a great article all about using a print shop or office supply chain to get your coloring pages printed. You might be surprised how affordable this can be–with coupons you can get pages printed for less than 10 cents a page!
A print shop will have many paper and card stock options to choose from, and you could ask them about bringing your own paper if you have a specific type of paper you like to use for your preferred coloring media. If you wanted to, you could even get the pages spiral bound with a protective cover at a print shop or office supply store. Some print shops will let you place your printing order online and have the pages ready for you the same day, but if you want special paper, I suggest visiting the store in person.
If you don’t have a convenient print shop or office supply store, check with your library or other local businesses such as shipping centers which may also offer printing services. If you have a good relationship with your employer, you could also ask about printing pages at your place of work. Perhaps bring some donuts for the break room in on that day. 😉
Related → Using a Print Shop for Coloring Pages
Use Black Ink and Economy Mode
When you’re printing coloring pages, you only need to use black ink or toner. Strange as it sounds, many inkjet printers will use a mix of color ink even when printing pages with nothing but black unless you specifically set the printer to use black ink only. (This creates a rich black that isn’t at all necessary for coloring pages.) Many printers have a separate black ink tank, and setting the printer to only use the back ink means you won’t be wasting money replacing the color tanks as often.
In addition, many printers will offer a draft, ink-saver, or economy mode that can help you save even more ink and toner. Look for all of these settings under a properties, advanced, or options button after invoking the print command in your software.
Chances are, you won’t even notice a visible difference in the printed pages and if you’re using an inkjet this will reduce the chances of the ink smearing. I doubt you will get a screening effect or areas that are not as dark as you’d like, but if you do, you can also go over them with black Sharpie while you are coloring.
If you are printing PDF pages, I suggest using Adobe Reader which offers a built-in ink savings option that is as simple as ticking a box in the print dialog box.
Set Your Printer to the Proper Paper Weight
If you print on different types of paper, especially heavier and textured paper such as card stock, it is very important to set your printer to the type of paper you are using every time. I learned this first hand recently while printing my black background pages on card stock. When I didn’t set the printer settings for heavier paper, the large black areas had patches where the toner was flaking off the page, like the look of chipped paint. Not pretty! Once I changed the printer settings to match the paper I was using, I no longer had the patchy areas of flaking toner. I guess those settings are there for a reason!
Depending on your printer, you may find these settings under the advanced printer properties from the Print dialog box, or through the onscreen controls of the printer itself, or both.
If your printer allows you to choose the type of document—such as illustrations rather than text or photos—that can also help improve the results. It pays to poke around your print settings no matter what printer you use to see what options are available to get the best print quality and save money on supplies.
Print it Smaller
One simple way to save ink is to print your coloring pages smaller. This is a good option if the coloring design is not extremely intricate or detailed, and it will also save you time and coloring media! Once again, here we go into the Print settings to change the scaling options for the page you’re printing. To print a full-size page rotated to fill half the sheet of letter size paper you can usually set the scaling to 65-70 percent as shown in the Adobe Reader print options below. Make sure you use your software’s “print preview” option (always!) to avoid any costly surprises—especially when making scaling changes like this.
The article linked below will go into a lot more detail about alternate printing options.
Use It All Up!
Lastly, you want to make sure you get every drop of ink and fleck of toner out of your supplies. So when your printer warns you that the ink or toner levels are low—consider it just that, a warning. Go ahead and order your replacement supplies, but keep on printing until you see on the paper that your ink or toner has truly run out. You might get dire warnings from your printer, but it’s okay. Remember, they want to sell you lots more ink and toner, so many times they set the warning to go off when you have much as 30% of your supplies left. In fact, another reason to investigate all the printer options and settings is that you can often change the trigger point for these alerts or turn them off entirely.
Ink-By-Mail Subscription and Third-Party Supplies
I don’t have personal experience using a subscription service for ink, but friends have told me it can save a lot of money. Currently HP offers this for some printers through their Instant Ink service. I’m not aware of other printer makers that offer it. You pay a monthly fee based on your expected print volume, the printer alerts the service when you are low, and your ink arrives by mail before you need it.
Another money-saving option is to use third-party compatible and/or refurbished supplies. Most print companies discourage the use of third-party supplies for obvious reasons. My feeling is that the only time it may be a problem is when the print head (the brain of the printer) is part of the printer rather than the cartridges, and even then the risk of damaging it through the use of third-party ink is usually worth the cost-saving benefit, unless you have invested in a very expensive home printer such as a multi-function printer that you also use regularly to make copies and scan.
I personally use third-party supplies for my printers and would suggest that you carefully research which suppliers you choose and stick to one when you find a supplier you’re satisfied with.
Share your Tips!
Have an ink-saving tip I didn’t cover here? We want to hear it! Share it with the community in the comments area below.