Giclee Printing – what is it?

Giclée (“g-clay”) prints are professional fine art digital prints. These are the prints which artists use for selling limited edition ‘reproductions’ of their original works.

Photographers can also use Giclée to produce the best quality prints.

It is occasionally the printing process used by digital artists and illustrators to produce prints from digital images where colour balance and accuracy are vital.

Everyday printing techniques seen in magazines, leaflets and posters are NOT Giclée.

The Devil is in the detail

In Giclée printing, Colours are calibrated to accurately match the tonalities and hues of the original painting, details are fine – there is no visible dot screen pattern, and the ink is fade resistant.

To protect your Giclée prints I would recommended that if your print is not covered by glass, a varnish is used to hold full protection against water and light damage. Although inks should be ‘water-fast’ and ‘light-fast’, it may not be enough to protect your print from prolonged or major exposure to the elements.

Giclee printers can produce very small images, right up to an extremely wide format – the only limit on length is the length of the paper or the life of the ink supply!

The correct combination of archival quality pigment inks and papers will ensure the print will stand the test of time, at least 25 years – as long as 100 years in good environmental conditions.

Picture: © Eleanor Winter – www.eleanorwinter.com CC 3.0

Printing from digital files

Of course a digital print is only as good as the digital file. Ensure your files stand the best chance of making a perfect print:

Artists

Scan small items or professionally photograph larger items at the highest possible resolution. If you have a scanned or photographed an image I would advise that you get it digitally enhanced and colour corrected to remove dust and marks and to ensure that the colours are converted for CMYK printing.

Digital art, designs and illustrations

In theory, digital originals are ready to go! If they have been designed to be printed, the images should be clean and crisp, and the colours will have been selected and defined on the computer software whilst creating the artwork.

Once you have your digital files ready, you can print ‘on demand’ any time – any size, any shape, any quantity.

ellie2

Papers and materials

There are a number of materials and fine art paper that Giclée is compatible with.

They range from photo paper, canvas, fibrous paper such as ‘watercolour’ cotton rag and baryta, vinyl, glass, metal, wood, and much more.

You can experiment with textures and surfaces which can add additional effects and beauty to the finished piece.

paper-texture-web

Where can I get a Giclée print made?

It can be useful, though not necessary to use a local printer.

If you are regularly producing several prints then it may be more practical to have a local printer where you can call in. It could only be to your advantage to build a relationship or even a partnership with your printer, taking your time to get to know who is reproducing your artwork and being able to get a feel for the quality and care put into the business. You could also potentially save postal costs by collecting your own pieces.

I suggest searching local directories and online for a local printer who specialises in ‘fine art’ Giclée prints.

If you are unable to find somewhere locally then there are lots of very reputable printing companies found on the internet. They will send a proof before printing and can send samples of materials on request.

EleanorWinterTree

Picture: © Eleanor Winter – www.eleanorwinter.com CC3.0

Giclée at home?

This isn’t something I have had the luxury to try at home.  The technology is basically the same as a standard inkjet but Giclée printers use pigments which are more light-fast and water-fast.

They usually use 8-12 colour cartridges instead of 4 – this is how it produces a much better and more accurate range of colours. But this will of course come at a price, as we all know how expensive ink cartridges can be and how often they need replacing!

You can print onto many formats of art paper and card. Most home printers print at 300 DPI, while Giclée printers can print up to 2800 DPI therefore you don’t get the visible ‘dot’ pattern on your print.

Disadvantages

Quality comes at a cost. Gorgeous materials and professional services are expensive to buy.  Giclée printers are few and far between. These prints are for special, desirable pieces which hold value. They make good long term investments.

The alternative

If Giclée seems a bit excessive for a simple gift or personal print, then you can get some great deals online from an enormous choice of printing services – there are more details of this here.

Printing artwork for a personal gift

So, you have a beautiful piece of art, design or a photo saved as a high resolution file on your computer, and you’d like to be able to produce a nice gift from it. All you need to do is print it! But what is the best option for you?

Start at home!

Inkjet Printers

Most modern inkjet printers can produce surprisingly good results. If you set the print quality to the highest (photo setting is good) and use some good quality paper, inkjet printing can be very detailed and accurate, especially with photographs.

You will perhaps need to experiment to get things such as the size right. You can adjust the percentage of your image in the ‘printer settings’ or ‘properties’ to make it bigger or smaller. If you plan to frame your artwork and already have a frame, I suggest you print the image at a size which will allow a little white space around all sides, so that it will give it a nice balance in the frame without looking cramped. You can always use scrap paper and print in black and white to save costs at this stage.

For your final print, use a good quality paper which is designed for inkjet printing. I like ‘linen’ and ‘hammer embossed’ papers which are often used for wedding stationery. They have a nice quality texture which adds to the effect. If you use a coloured paper it may affect the colour of your print so you may want to test it first. Inkjet ink will take on the finish of the paper, so will appear matte on matte paper and glossy on photo paper. On some shiny papers you will need to allow some time for drying but they do tend to print with a sharper detail.

Printing at home is a great way to add a further ‘handmade’ feeling to the creation of your unique gift – choosing your own frame and paper means you can personalise every element of the final piece.

I would certainly encourage you to try printing at home if you can. It is fun, rewarding and you can experiment over and over again with a whole variety of papers.

Professional fine art prints are produced using high quality lightfast inkjet inks and papers. These produce superior photographic images. This process is often referred to as ‘Giclée’.

Laser Printers

If you work in an office your employer may allow you to use the company’s laser printer for a small charge, or possibly for free if they are particularly generous! Alternatively, you can use a local copy centre like Kinko’s (US), Staples, or a local printing company who can also produce a laser print for you.

They print superior quality text. Laser ink is formed by heating a powder and the finished printed areas will have a subtly shiny appearance. Laser printers are cost effective for large scale printing (although the outlay for the toner is high, it lasts a very long time) and it is fast.

Most colour laser printer toners use pigment, which suggests a better fade resistance than the average inkjet print.

Online print services

Important notes – When uploading files online, be sure that if there is an option to upload ‘fast or ‘slow’, that you use the ‘slow’ setting – some fast uploads will reduce the size and quality of your file, resulting in a disappointingly poor quality blurry print.
Every website is different – you may need to crop, zoom or rotate in order to get the best fit of your design in the printed area. Make sure you check the preview or proof carefully before committing to buy.

Paper

If your home printer isn’t up to scratch, Poster prints can be very cost effective if you are looking for a decent sized print. Places such as Snapfish, Tesco (UK)/FedEx, Costco (US) only cost a few pounds/dollars.

Here is a customer photo of a poster print in a frame:

Alichappelluk-customer-photo

Photo prints can also be very cheap. Try printing design or artwork onto a matt finish – glossy finishes perhaps won’t give the appropriate effect. Photos however will look gorgeous on glossy paper!

Canvas, mugs and much more

If you have a slightly higher budget then why not get a canvas print. These can be really striking and make a real focal point in a room. They are also hard-wearing and easy to hang.

There are so many print choices online – mouse mats, cushion covers, tea towels, tote bags, canvases, mugs, t-shirts, i-phone cases, key rings; the list seems endless.

Review of US online store  – Canvaspop.com

Canvas prices start from approx. $30 unframed, $49 framed*.

Very simple ordering and upload process. The advantage to using this service is that there is no need to worry about cropping or aspect ratios. The experienced designers will send you a proof and intelligently crop the image for you so your image looks great at no extra charge. Canvaspop will let you upload a jpeg yourself, but they will also accept a pdf file via email which I would recommend you do, in order to allow for the highest print quality.

The difference in ease of ordering, price, quality and customer service can differ a lot. I cannot recommend who will be the best for your personal requirements but here is a list of other suggestions to try – Walmart, Costco, Cafepress, Smartpress, Shutterfly, Staples and Kinkos.

Review of UK online store  – Vistaprint.co.uk

Canvas prices start from approx. £20* but keep your eye out for regular sale prices.

The good thing about Vistaprint is that it will accept most file types including pdfs, which usually contain a much higher print quality than a jpeg.

What I like here is the upload process, it’s very easy, and includes a very flexible tool where you can crop, rotate, enlarge, and reduce your image until it is perfectly placed. The tool is accessible without the need to login so you can give it a try and get a visual example without committing to buy anything.

Vistaprint-capture

The difference in ease of ordering, price, quality and customer service can differ a lot. I cannot recommend who will be the best for your personal requirements but here is a list of other suggestions to try – Canvasdezign, Tescophoto, Snapfish, Cafepress and Orbitprint.

*prices correct at time of writing this blog.

Remember – All inks, printers and papers will add different variables to your final print!

 

Want to learn more about fine art quality (Giclée) printing? Click here.

Home Sweet Home: personalised word art

Friends recently bought and moved into a new home and I wanted to give them a really special personalised present.

I love typography and colour and so decided to make some ‘word art’.

I gathered words related to home life, relationship, names, addresses, anything personal that I knew about my friend.

Fitting the words around the doors and windows of a simple house shape took some time!

word-art-sample

I chose a nice homely colour scheme of warm browns, reds and creams.

My friend’s favourite things include cats, gardening, ladybirds and bees and so I also incorporated images of these all into the shape.

sun-wordart   ladybird-wordart  bee-wordart2

I printed the design myself on my home printer. I used ‘woven’ effect paper in a cream colour as it gave some additional warmth and texture.

I found a nice deep frame with a small aperture.

housewarming-gift-EDIT

She was very pleased with her present, who wouldn’t like a totally unique and personalised gift?

Due to the positive response of my friend,  I decided to create a product for others who are looking for a unique housewarming gift. The design can be personalised for anybody.

Take quick look, click here and let me know what you think!

Ali

x

Beautiful Indian themed handmade wedding stationery

gold-indian-wedding-invitation-red

I am getting married in September and we have agreed upon an Indian theme, as my fiance and I spent the first weeks of our engagement in India together.

It’s very exciting as there’s lots of room for creativity in a wedding! All our stationery will be handmade.

To begin with I sat and doodled some zen-doodle/mendhi henna inspired designs. To my surprise, what started as a rough idea actually developed into the final design… a ‘happy accident’ as they say!

I scanned the image into Photoshop, cleaned up the image and increased the contrast up high so the image was completely black.

The next thing I had to design was the shape and size of the invitation. I wanted to be able to buy standard sized envelopes and so eventually decided on an A4 sheet folded into 3. To give it an oriental touch, the top of the invite was cut into a spire shape similar to a temple or lantern. When the invitation is unfolded the effect of 3 spires was revealed:

folded indian wedding invite

I found some beautiful gold shimmer paper that was printer friendly (thanks to www.daisysjewelsandcrafts.co.uk who were incredibly helpful). I printed the information out on both sides of the paper, folded and cut, then wrote the invitee’s names by hand on each invite.

The final touch was to add some tiny self-adhesive crystals in red, gold and brown. These crystals are very cheap to buy from Ebay and they really brought it to life.

Close-up-indian-wedding-invite-red-crystals

The invitations were inserted into red envelopes for a wonderful rich contrast with the gold. It was truly worth all the effort to sit back and see the final thing!

I decided to set up a shop to share my ideas with others who want to give DIY invitations a try! Visit my etsy shop for your own printable DIY wedding stationery kits, click here.

Please contact me directly if you are looking for something in particular, I love to design and would love to help!

DIY Woodcut – Printmaking by hand at home

I have been keen to start printmaking from woodcutting at home for some time and I can now say that I have successfully finished my first set of prints!

 wood-cut-rose

Equipment and Materials

Starting from scratch, I had a long shopping list of equipment I was going to have to buy to do this – but I was unsure what was best to spend my money on. Being my first attempt from home I couldn’t see the point in spending a fortune on professional materials, and besides, surely some of it is down to technique not materials?

I’ve always been very resourceful with materials anyway, I believe that I don’t always have to spend money and there are many things around the house and garden that can produce a much more unique result.

I had been advised that the best investment to make is on the knives, so I splashed out on a decent set of student cutting tools from Lawrence’s. I also bought a new rubber ink roller (although if you shop around there are a few second hand ones available on ebay). The third thing I invested in was a small pot of black oil-based ink.

For ‘practice wood’ I visited the local DIY shop, and managed to haggle a deal for some off-cuts, thus rescuing waste material destined for the scrap heap and doing my bit for the planet 🙂

I found a tin of old wood varnish and sheets of sandpaper in the garage and after a couple of layers of varnishing and sanding the wood was smooth and ready to go.

woodcut-plate-rose

How I did it

I drew my design on paper and then when it was ready, transferred using carbon paper and went over it with a permanent marker pen.

After cutting out my design, I made a ‘rubbing’ with some light paper and crayons, to check the design was how I wanted it to be. There was a knot in the wood that I couldn’t avoid so I decided to edit the design to hide the knot – I made a few adjustment cuts in the wood and was ready to go.

I spread the ink onto a glass surface (a kitchen chopping board!) before inking up the wood.

I laid the paper over the top of the wood and carefully used a smooth door knob (more resourcefulness!) to rub the ink onto the paper, being careful not to move the paper and cause a ‘ghosting’ effect on the print.

I had a variety of paper kicking about so decided to experiment with several types. Parcel paper, cartridge, watercolour all provided different results.

Not bad for a first attempt!

chinese-woodcut-papers-roses

Rheebridge Open Art Exhibition – Exhibition pieces revealed

Thanks to all who attended the show this weekend!

As promised, here is a picture of the pieces I exhibited.

The exhibition saw works from 100 different artists, it was such a diverse mix, a fantastic way to see art from all over Cambridgeshire from a whole mix of skill sets and styles.

AliChappell-RheebridgeArtExhibition

Screenprinting using photo process

Earlier this month I spent 3 days at Curwen Print Study Centre at Chilford Hall, Cambridge. Curwen is a fantastic printmaking centre run by some lovely people.

I took in some of my drawings on acetate and learned from Sue Jones how to use photo-emulsion on a silkscreen to reproduce my drawing as a screenprint.

I love experimenting with layers in printmaking so enjoyed particularly making a monoprint bottom layer in a very  loose style, contrasted by an overprinted layer of detailed illustration.

Some of the results were stunning!

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