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Components of Quality Printing

Not all digital printmakers are digital fine art printmakers. There are many levels of quality printing in the digital print business. To get a truly high quality print or giclee, you need to consider five major components of the process.

The first component is a good scan. The quality of the scan will determine the quality of your final print or giclee. The scan should be high resolution. We recommend the digital file be at least 300 dpi at the size you wish to print or at the size of your original artwork. You should also make sure that the scanner or camera operator is careful to preserve all the detail that is in the original artwork, especially in the highlight and shadow areas. If you are reproducing an original artwork, it is always best to create a digital capture of the original art instead of a slide or other transparency. Digital captures allow you to capture an original piece of art at or above the size of the original.  Transparencies are no longer the best way to reproduce artwork.

The next three components of a good print are the inks, paper, and printer. Most serious giclee print buyers will ask for this information before making a purchase. The inks and the paper should be certified archival. The most archival inks are pigment-based ink sets. These are available from several different manufacturers. The paper should be a fine art quality, heavyweight paper. It should be acid-free or 100% rag. We recommend any of the papers that are listed in our paper section. The printer should be one that was designed with fine art applications in mind. We, of course, based on testing, prefer the Canon imagePROGRAF printers.

WARNING: Choose your paper or canvas from a reputable manufacturer. You need the same paper available when you go to reprint your images for years to come.  That is unless you are printing your whole edition at once, which is cost prohibitive and not necessary.  It is common practice for newer manufacturers to add and subtract papers from their lines. Choosing a newer paper from a new manufacturer could be a bad decision.  Choose your paper wisely.  Our main line of paper is made by Hahnemuhle, which has been making paper for over 400 years.

The fifth component is the choice of printmaker.  See our section Choosing a printmaker?