Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Brief Introduction to Giclée Prints


The word giclée (pronounced zhee-clay) is surprisingly unfamiliar to customers and artists alike. Loosely interpreted, it means “that which is sprayed or squirted.” The term "giclee print" connotes an elevation in printmaking technology.  Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art paper such as Velvet Rag, which is 100% cotton, and photo-based papers such as resin coated (RC) that are generally 10.4mil in thickness. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction.  In order to produce your own giclée prints, some initial investment in basic equipment is necessary. 


  • At a minimum, a computer that supports a Windows or Macintosh operating system compatible with Adobe Photoshop software. 
  •     Here, at our shop, we use Mac Pro's 1,1 with a 32-bit 2.66 GHz Dual-core Intel Xeon processor and 18 Gb's of ram along with a dozen or so other Macs and Windows machines.
Large format scanner
  • For small prints, where high resolution is not so critical, or if you just want a few copies and need to keep costs down, you can create a print using your own digital file or desktop scanner. Scan your image at as high a resolution as possible - for best results you'll want 300 dpi output at the size you want to print. If you use an existing digital file, keep in mind that re-sampling a lower resolution file seldom renders good results – the saying in the industry is, Garbage in, garbage out!” A common mistake is to think that scanning at 3,000dpi is plenty of resolution. What's important is size and resolution. If you have 3,000dpi at 1”x1,” you can only print a 10”x10” print at 300dpi. So, select 300dpi and the print dimensions to create the best scan.
  •       In our studio we use a “Better Light” scanning back on a 4x5 view camera along with infrared and a polarized filter and state-of-the-art, high-intensity discharge (HID) lights with polarized filters to create what is called “cross polarization” that greatly reduces glare or reflection.   
High-Quality printer
  • There are a bunch of mid to high quality printers available today from standard manufactures such at Epson and Cannon. Price ranges will run you somewhere between $500-$28,000 depending on quality and production needs. 
  • Our shop has utilized many printer models from both Cannon. Epson and Mimaki over the years.

Adobe Photoshop software
  • A essential graphics editing program developed and published by Adobe Systems. Unfortunately a rather expensive piece of software the latest version (CS6) costs $615.95.
  •     Over the years (and computers) we've ran many different versions of the software. Photoshop CS3 has been a very reliable version for us.


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