What is a Giclée? Click here for PDF of this file

GICLÉE or PRINT?

What’s the difference?

bruce barry (Jan/2022)

SUMMARY

POSTERS and PRINTS: most you see are done using a mix of four colours, black, cyan, magenta, yellow, [CMYK] and then printed on standard paper using ‘dye based ink’.

GICLÉE: (pronounced zhee-clay) printing is done with a mix of many more colours, I use 10-colour archival pigment ink with an expanded colour gamut, the colours are (1) Matte Black, (2) Photo Black, (3) Gray, (4) Light Gray, (5) Cyan, (6) Vivid Magenta, (7) Light Cyan, (8) Vivid Light Magenta, (9) Yellow, and (10) Violet. Giclées are much closer to the original work and printed on good quality archive quality paper that will last about 300 years. If you want a reproduction of an original piece of art that is also a good art investment, then you want a giclée.

HOW LONG WILL GICLÉE PRINTS LAST?: I use is UltraChrome PRO10 ink, which is expected to create prints that have WIR display permanence ratings of up to 200 years for colour and 400 years for black-and-white, if properly cared for by the owner, a giclée print will last at least 100 years without significant fading. If your giclée print is framed and hung in a location outside of direct sunlight, it can last even longer.

w 60 noted

GICLEE PRINT CARDS: I also seasonally release sets of cards that are giclées on the front and which purchasers can place in a frame after card received.

Ikwe Card Parts

CMYK Color Model: For Poster Print Projects

Color separation is the process by which original full-color digital files are separated into individual color components for the standard four-color process printing. Every element in the digital file is printed in a combination of four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, known as CMYK in the world of commercial printing.

Combining these four ink colors produces a wide spectrum of colors on the printed page. In the four-color printing process, each of the four color separations is applied to a separate printing plate and placed on one cylinder of a printing press. As sheets of paper run through the printing press, each plate transfers an image in one of the four colors to the paper. The colors—which are applied as minuscule dots—combine to produce a full-color image.

 CMYK

A commercial printing company handles the work of making the color separations on most projects, scanning and then using software to separate digital files into the four CMYK colors which are then transferred as color-separated information to plates or directly to digital presses. Most print designers work in the CMYK model to more accurately predict the appearance of the colors in the final printed product.

GICLÉE PRINTING

Giclée printing  (pronounced zhee-clay) is a method of printing to create high quality FINE ART PRINTS. Originating from the French term, “la giclée,” it means, “that which is sprayed or squirted.”

Giclée printing began in the 1980s, when high-resolution digital scans were used in conjunction with archival quality inks. In 1991, printmaker Jack Duganne coined the term for fine digital prints that are made on inkjet printers. Giclée printing is a type of inkjet printing, but not all inkjet prints are giclée prints. The intention of giclée printing is to produce a product at a higher quality and with a longer lifespan than a standard desktop inkjet printer.  

Originally, the word, “giclée” was used to describe digital reproductions of conventional artworks (painting or drawing) or photographs. Today, however, it is generally accepted that a giclée print can be entirely created in a digital workflow on a modern computer application, like Illustrator or Creative Cloud editions of Adobe Photoshop. To be truly giclée, there are three basic requirements that must be met.

HOW ARE GICLÉE PRINTS MADE?

Giclée prints are made with a number of materials and technologies. What makes a giclee print is the combination of:

DOCUMENT RESOLUTION

For an image to be printed as a giclée, it must be created at a resolution of no less than 300 dots per inch (DPI). Regarding a photo or a conventional artwork reproduction, the camera or scanner used to capture the image or scan the artwork must be able to do so at least 300 DPI. When one sets up an image file for a giclée print, it is at least 300 DPI, which will ensure that the final giclée print is of value, with sharp detail and without the fragmentation that occurs with images of lower resolution, and printed with dye based ink which spreads and is less like the original. Which is why I use ‘pigment based ink’.

CHOICE OF PAPER

I use mostly HOT PRESS EPSON FINE ART PAPER, which is acid free, 100% cotton rag, archival paper, as it has a bright white smooth finish. Colour gamut and density takes well to this paper. My Giclées are pieces of art reproduced on this paper that is acid, lignin and chlorine free, and pH buffered with calcium carbonate.

For a giclée print, the choice of paper is crucial: the paper or substrate used to print the final piece must be of archival quality. A professional series of paper will typically say if it is archival quality on the box. It will say if it is acid free and whether it consists of a 100% cotton or rag base. These types of papers are the best for longevity and color reproduction, and can be found at a variety of different sellers, with Epson the most common.

INK & PRINTER

The biggest difference between a standard inkjet print and a giclée print is that giclées are printed using pigment-based inks rather than dye-based inks that are found in lower-cost inkjets.

Pigment-based inks have a longer lifespan: they can last anywhere from 100 - 200 years without significant fading. The type of printer used for giclée printing is usually a larger format model that specifically uses pigment-based inks and can hold 8 - 12 color ink cartridges.

Generally, the more inks that are used, the more sophisticated the color range will be on final output. Ink  names like UltraChrome K3 from Epson and LUCIA from Canon are two of the wider known pigment-based inks from the major printing manufacturers

ARE GICLÉE PRINTS WORTH ANYTHING? ARE GICLÉE PRINTS EXPENSIVE? HOW MUCH ARE GICLÉE PRINTS?

Giclée prints are more expensive to produce than bulk prints (which use traditional lithography), and they are priced accordingly. Though giclée prints aren’t as valuable as original pieces of art, they have allowed artists to disseminate their works to a larger audience, making them very valuable.

Giclée prints are expensive because the technology and materials used to create these prints are expensive. Additionally, the process itself is painstakingly slow: most Giclées are produced one or two at a time. Reproductions produced by lithography are produced hundreds at a time on high-speed presses.