Giclee printing on canvas using a Canon printer by David

I started my journey in Giclée printing when Melody and I formed Melody Art in 2003. At that time the process was relatively new and it was quite rare for an artist to self publish using this form of printing, researching techniques and obtaining materials was much more difficult. Now the technique is known and used by many artists.

So what is a Giclee print

We see many prints, allegedly Giclée prints, but it is a case of buyer be ware. Having an inkjet printer and sticking in a bit of copy paper does not produce a Giclée print. Firstly the printer is an inkjet printer like many everyday printers, the difference starts with the quality of the inks and papers used. The full definition of the process is covered by The Fine Art Trade Guild, although we are no longer members we do follow the guidelines they publish.

For me the process starts when the image is captured, I scan all our paintings, cameras were not sufficiently accurate back in 2003 and I still have issues with taking photographs of art work. Part of the scanning process is to produce an image that is colour calibrated and can be sent to a printer to produce consistent results.

The next stage is to have a printer that can accept colour profile information from Photoshop or any other high quality image package, and can also accept profile information relating to the paper or canvas being used. Our printers have always used pigment inks although dye based inks are used by some printers. Printers have changed over the years, the Canon printer I use has 12 colours, my previous printer had 7, both produced consistent prints with colours almost identical to the original.

The next choice is the paper or canvas type. I have for many years used Hahnemuhle papers, they have always been expensive but since Brexit have become even more expensive. There are now many sources of papers and canvas and it is worth looking at samples and choosing a surface that suits your particular style, we use etching paper and a matt canvas. The paper as defined in the process should be of a particular weight, off the top of my head the paper we use is about 200gsm (grams per square metre) and the canvas is 340gsm. In addition the papers are coated so that the ink is not absorbed into the paper. Should you try printing on ordinary copy paper you may be able turn up saturation on the colours to approach something like the original, but in truth the paper will be absorbing much of the ink and will be muting those colours.

The papers should be supplied with their own colour profiles ensuring that the print looks the same from one paper to the next, alternately one can have custom profiles produced that take into account the idiosyncrasies of your own printer.

The print shown in the video is “Purple Headed Mountain” and is a limited edition print of one of Melody’s paintings. The painting is of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor National Park, and was painted when the hill was covered in heather and gorse.

In part 2 I’m going to be looking at stretching a canvas and producing a picture ready to hang.

Leave a comment