Mayan Rollouts printed on a wideformat, with a rip.

Wide format printers such as Hewlett-Packard or Encad are the ideal means to print the long proportions of a circumferential rollout photograph of a Maya vase. You can either use the wide format printer to produce the rollout 36 inches wide (the most common paper width) or 36 inches high and 12 to 18 feet long (or more, the paper on a typical wide format printer is 100 feet long).

"Rollout photographs," also known as peripheral photographs or circumferential photographs, are described on These are turntable mode photographs by a Better Light digital scanning camera which peels off the circumferential design to create a rollout photograph.

Late Tepeu 2 vase, the Black Feathers variant of the Pink Hieroglyph Style of Central Peten, Guatemala (note the x-ray view of the giant bird masks).
Sample printout from a wide format ink-jet color printer, a rollout of a Classic Maya vase, copyright FLAAR.
Here is the rollout of the entire circumference, and the actual vase at the right. This is a print from an Encad large format printer. Most economical is the Encad Chroma 24 model. Maya vase rollouts are an ideal way to study Maya iconography and art, and perfect for books.

The new generation of computer controlled rollout cameras can generate enlargements because of the precision allowed by their on-board computer systems. The Seitz SuperRoundShot can do rollouts with 70 mm film which we have enlarged to 14 feet. The Better Light adaptation of the Dicomed Field Pro can be enlarged correspondingly large.

Encad was excited about the potential of this new technology and together with Electronics for Imaging provided the F.L.A.A.R. Digital Imaging Technology Center an Encad NovaJetPro 36 with an EFI Fiery PostScript RIP server. Then Encad decided to abandon the graphic arts market (April 2000) so we switched to the Hewlett-Packard DesignJet printers because HP is interested in producing printers for the fine art photo-quality market.

The resulting prints are wonderful for exhibits, posters, and banners. They look even better if laminated; the

accentuates the colors (and protects the print as well). You can get special photo media that can be grommetted at the corners and along the edges to hang outside. Anti-tear material, canvas, all kinds of exhibit-quality photo material is available from Rexam Graphics. One company even produces media that you can hang outside in the rain!

Need help selecting media? Just entering the world of wide format printers? Ask the review editor about long-lasting archival inks and suggest which large format printer, which RIP is best for your needs? Help is just a click away.

If you wish a wide format printer for super photographic quality, try a ColorSpan with 8-color system. You can obtain ColorSpan directly from ColorSpan or from Ilford or Agfa. We tested the Ilford Imaging version of the ColorSpan, the Ilford IJT wide format printer. Its quality was at the top of its class. The images were close to continuous tone (rather than the dot pattern of some low-dpi legacy 4-color systems). However if your budget cannot reach the $30,000 price of a complete ColorSpan system, consider the Hewlett-Packard DesignJet printers which are considerably more cost-effective. Hint...ColorSpan printers use Hewlett-Packard inkjet the HP printers themselves must be rather good on their own. You can get a photo-quality level Hewlett-Packard DesignJet printer for $10,000 and an entry level HP 1055CM for a reasonable figure. If you are just starting in large format printing a Hewlett-Packard printer is a wise choice because they are user friendly, reliable, and do all their calibrations automatically. Hint, you don't need to know much about wide format printing to start using a Hewlett-Packard DesignJet printer.

Rollouts can do much more than just Maya vases. Botanical gardens can do rollouts of any plant (such as a section of an organ cactus) or any tree or straight-growing plant. Anthropology museums can do rollouts of ethnographic objects such as headdresses, carved stools, bracelets. Art museums can do rollouts of Inca, Nazca, and Paracas pottery as well as Chinese and Greek vases.

This new pano turntable (circumferential rollout) technology will be a boon for museum public relations, both natural history museums, art museums, botanical gardens, and zoos, to advertise their exhibits. This same BetterLight rotating camera can also do panoramas.

Most recently updated August 02, 2001.