Fine Art Reproduction
The process known as Giclée printing is relatively new. Beginning less than 20 years ago with pre-press proofing printers, (typically Iris Printers) producing beautiful, fast color accurate prints. The French word Giclée, that basically means squirt, was soon given to the process and a new world of Fine Art Reproduction exploded. Since the early days of the industry, technology has advanced exponentially with archival inks and substrates of all types. Now a properly captured and color corrected image can be virtually indistinguishable from the original artwork.
The artist gets a finer reproduction of their work and the collector gets a finer
quality print that will last up to and beyond 150 years.
There are many ways to print art. Probably the most common for many decades has been the Offset Lithograph, a four color printing process. Rather than try to describe a printing process... a picture is worth a thousand words. If you'll click on the image at the left you can see the marked difference between the two printing processes. Lithographs are printed with only four colors through screens which produce dots or rosettes. The Giclée process uses 8 to 12 colors layed down directly from the printhead in droplets as small as red blood cells. The next few pictures clearly show the difference.
The process of reproduction begins with the capture, or picture, of the original artwork. Historically, a fine quality capture was made with a 4 x 5 or an 8 x 10 view camera; then the transparency was scanned to file or computer for color correction and proofing. Once again times have changed. GRAfx 8 still uses a 4 x 5 view camera, but rather than film, a BETTERLIGHT Super 8K scan back is inserted in its place. A BETTERLIGHT scan back camera produces the most color accurate and highest resolution image possible, up to a 384 megapixel capture without interpolation. There is perhaps nothing more important than this first stage of the reproduction process. Color correction time is cut in less than half and the image is first generation rather than a scan of a transparency ,
(or 2nd generation) requiring less sharpening and image degradation.
Click on the camera image above to learn more about the Betterlight system.
A Bit About Color
Without light, there is no color! Color is what we see or interpret when light reflects off of something. When light hits the cones in the back of our eyes, a signal is sent to the brain for interpretation. Much like our eyes, in a sense, when light hits the film or ccd in the back of a camera or scanner, the interpretation is recorded on that film or sensor. If only film, ccds, and everybody's eyes saw and interpreted the same color. Film sees different light than our eyes. For instance the color cobalt blue appears to us one way, while film may pick up more of the infrared spectral response curve than our eyes do; so it "contaminates" the color. Click on the color checker above to see a typical reprograhic set up.
To make matters more complicated... Each monitor, printer, paper, ink, ccd, has a different idea about what BLUE is. Clearly then, the next most important phase of a reproduction is: matching what the eye sees ,what the film or scanner picks up, how the pigment of the printer has a different spectral response than the pigment on the canvas or paper does, ( which includes a different response to different kinds of light, ie; sunlight, flourescent, incandescent, etc... A "Daylight" color matched print may be perfect until you view it under different lighting conditions. The colors may shift and you may see subtle differences. Two red apples viewed inside and outside will appear to be same color in any lighting conditions, but a red apple and a printed red apple may look different.
At GRAfx 8 we photograph all our artwork under NORTHLIGHT HID fixtures. These are low heat and UV safe, based on museum requirements, which protects the artwork and ensures the best possible capture of the original artwork. When the final color correction and proof of an image is done, it takes place under (industry standard for proofing), lighting conditions; again ensuring the best possible match to your original.
In a perfect world... WYSIWYG, or What You See Is What You Get! In the world of reproduction and printing this takes time, experience and consistent monitoring and calibrating.
A Word of Caution! If someone tells you they can "print anything you can paint", they may be trying too hard to get your business and setting you up for disappointment. There are pigments that have a spectral response curve which our eyes may see, but are "to date" unprintable.
Understanding Spectral radiant power distributions, spectral response and tone curves, dynamic range, to name a few are not things you need to be familiar with; but are critical in Fine Art Reproduction.
The Proof is in the Printing!
From a "soft proof" of a color corrected image on screen we go to print. This may be the first of many small proof prints because, once again, what you see on a monitor is " projected light" and the color on the substrate out of the printer is "reflected light". Once we feel we have a match, the artist is asked to participate in the final color correction and proof, (if any changes are needed). This means only two trips to our studio: one, to bring us the original artwork, and two, to accept and finalize the last proof and take your original home. At that point, we save your image to multiple storage devices* and are ready to print "on the fly" or "to order". The days of ordering 300-500 prints for a good price are gone. Click on the printhead image above to take a closer look at our printer lineup.
*For a small charge differently formatted and sized images can be burned to CD-rom.
Photo Restoration and Digital Imaging
Click the link above to learn more about photo restoration.