A beginner’s guide to giclee printing

Giclee is type of high quality printing that is ideal for reproducing pieces of art and photographs.

A beginner's guide to giclee printing

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The word is pronounced ‘zhee-clay’ and comes from la giclée, a French word meaning something which is squirted or sprayed.

It is a form of inkjet printing, although not every inkjet print is a giclee print. Instead, giclee printing delivers a higher quality result than traditional printing, which should last much longer than a standard print – up to 200 years without fading.

Originally, giclee only applied to a digital reproduction of a conventional photograph, painting, drawing or other artwork, but now it can also apply to an entire digital product created using the likes of Creative Cloud forms of Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop.

A beginner's guide to giclee printing2

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Giclee criteria

A true giclee print must meet a minimum of three criteria. It must have a resolution of at least 300 DPI, and it must be printed on the right paper and with the right ink. More information about resolutions and DPI can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2013/07/you-say-you-want-a-resolution-how-many-dpippi-is-too-much/.

Giclee prints, from companies such as http://www.river-studio.com/fine-art-printing/fine-art-giclee-printing.php, are printed on archival quality paper – a must for any true giclee print. This high-quality paper helps to ensure the highest standard of colour reproduction and the longevity of the end result. Without this, the product could not last anywhere near as long as it does.

The right ink

Giclee prints are usually created using a large format machine with pigment-based inks. In contrast, lower-cost inkjets typically use dye-based inks. Pigment-based products last longer than dye-based inks and can have a lifespan of between 100 and 200 years, without suffering from any significant fading. This makes giclee ideal when the durability and potential longevity of a product is a major concern.

The printer used for giclee will also normally hold between eight and 12 different ink cartridges, as the more inks that are used, the better the colour range will be on the final product.

Other standards

These three criteria are those which are most widely accepted but there are others, depending on the medium being used to reproduce from or the final product.

There are also many advantages beyond the increase in quality. Artists can produce individual prints without the number-requirements of traditional printing, for example, and the digital process can ultimately save both time and money.

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