The Equipment and Materials Needed to Make Archival Giclee Prints

Fine art giclee prints are the best reproductions one can make of their original 2-D artwork. Nowadays, with the proper equipment, materials, and training these exquisite prints can be created from your own studio.

What Kind of Art Can Be Reproduced as a Giclee?

There’s a wide variety of art that can be reproduced as a giclee. Below is a list of the most common mediums made into giclee prints:

If you’re an artist that makes original 2-D art, and wants to invest in creating your own fine art prints, I’ve put together a list below of what you’ll need to be successful.

Printing Equipment, Tools, and Materials

To reproduce your original art you first need a digital image of it, and the best way to get that is with a scanner or a camera.

Scanner:  A scanner is the best way to achieve the highest level of dpi (dots per inch) resolution of your artwork. To created a giclee print the scan must be at least 300 dpi. I love the professional scanners + printer made by Epson. They are made specifically for photographers and artist in mind. I recommend the Epson Perfection V600 above. You’ll be amazed at the professional quality images this scanner creates, and at an affordable price!

Camera: A camera is needed if your original art is too large to fit into a scanner. Again, the quality of the photo must have a 300 dpi or higher resolution to uploaded to a computer.  I have always used Canon Rebel cameras like the one above, Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera. These cameras will come in handy for all sorts of photo and video needs.

TIP: They are most valuable when used on manual mode which is why it’s so important to take the time to learn about aperture, shutter speed, and the f stop chart.

Computer: If you are going to invest in fine art printing you may want to update your computer. I switch from a PC to a Mac with an upgraded faster processor and extra storage because of its compatibility with my Cintiq tablet and the software I use, but both (PC + Mac) can be used for this type of printing. The Apple iMac 21.5 Inch, 3.0GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB  is a great example of a desktop Mac that can get the job done. What’s most important is doing the research needed to make sure everything you invest in is compatible.

Software: You will need software for sizing, color correction, possible touch ups, and printing needs. There’s lots of software out there that can accomplish these tasks, and so much more, such as: Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator,  Corel Painter, and Lightroom just to name a few. Again, it’s important to do your research to see what software will best meet your needs.

Specialty Wide Format Printer: These professional inkjet printers create exceptional fine art reproductions of original art. There are several  brand options available at different price points. Epson had the largest variety of specialty printers made just for professional fine art printing. I recommend looking into the Epson SureColor P600 Inkjet Printer. It’s one of the more affordable printers in the SureColor series, and has nine pigmented ink cartridges which exceeds the requirement for inks needed to make a giclee.

If you want to compare Epson SureColor series to another brand I would suggest looking into Canon PIXMA Pro series.

 

Ink: This is an important one! The ink must be pigmented. Pigmented inks are powdery solid particles unlike dye inks which are liquid, and will not bleed when it’s absorbed into the paper like dye inks. Instead, the colors sit on top of the paper and does a much better job of retaining color and reflecting light. It’s also water resistant and will not run, bleed or smug if it comes in contact with water.

Every wide format specialty inkjet printer has pigmented inks made special just for it. Epson T760 Ultrachrome HD inks are made for the SureColor P600 printer above.

Paper: When it comes to selecting paper or canvas for printing you want to make sure it’s 100 % cotton, because that means it’s archival. There’s an impressive variety of textured paper, and canvas available for creating giclee prints. I suggest trying out a sample pack of paper from these companies to best decide what paper best meets your printing needs: Hahnemuhle Archival Inkjet Paper Sample Pack, or  Epson Signature Worthy Paper Sample Pack.

Some of these specialty printers can even recreate the actual thickness of your brushstroke on canvas just like an original painting. You can also print photographs on artisan textured mat paper instead of the traditional gloss paper to give your art a totally different look.

Think carefully how you want to create your prints because choosing a specific combination of inks and paper can define your brand as an artist.

Wacom Tablet: This is not necessary but extremely helpful if you have it in your budget to purchase. I use the Wacom Cintiq 22HD Display Tablet and it allows me to color correct, resize, and draw directly onto my watercolors. If you like to create digital art, want to combine digital art with traditional painting, or looking to do more in the licensing industry, this tablet will be very helpful.

If you would like to see how I used mine in my art, click on the top link: “Click Here to See How This Collection Was Made” in my Shop for my Bird Tree, Animal Tree, andOwl Tree.

External Drive: Creating giclee prints means creating large high resolution images. These images can take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive. Investing in a 1-4 terabyte external drive would be wise for extra storage and back up for your images. Above is the Seagate 2TB Portable External Hard Drive. If you also want to create videos I would suggest an even larger external drive that requires a thunderbolt port connection.

 

Training: If you’re all in on creating your own fine art prints but may need a little help with learning how to use the software and the equipment I have mentioned above it may be worth your time to sign up for some online training courses. I recommend subscribing to Lynda.com. This site has hundreds of tutorials you can go to and watch whenever you find yourself suck and need answers.

Once you gather all the equipment and material need to make your own fine art giclee prints you may want to consider a couple more things such as packaging and storage.

Packaging: Keeping your prints safe from bends, wrinkles, scratches, and dust will be necessary. I recommend looking into ULINE and Clear Bags for packaging supplies.

Storage: How you store your prints will also be important in order to protect your investment. Make sure you keep your prints in a dark, temperature controlled environment.

Ready to Start?

Now it’s time to do your research!

Creating your own giclee prints is a big investment. Luckily, you don’t need everything I mentioned above all at once, and can collect items over time.

TIP: When you do decide to purchase a wide format printer make sure you’re in a position to sell prints on a fairly consistent bases. If these printers aren’t being used at least once a week it’s common for the printer head to clog up and unclogging it will eat up your ink and profits.

And…

If you’re hoping to make prints one day, but currently stuck on building a cohesive collection to sell, check out my post: How to Make Art That Sells