Step 1 – Getting Your Work Photographed…
There are several options here and some are better and naturally more expensive then others.
The premium method is via 4x5 film that is scanned to create a file in the gigabyte+ (> 1000 megs) range.
This provides you with a film master that can be rescanned if necessary in the future as technology improves. Film masters are still much more permanent then digital data.
You can make images up 40x90” using this method.
There are shops that do scanning of paintings with a BetterLight 4x5 scanning back system and while the results are quite good the cost is similar to a 4x5 film copy and scan. If I had a choice I would prefer to have the film because of its greater resolution and permanence.
The materials cost for a 4x5 shot is 25.00 a shot. This can be reduced to as little as 5.00 a shot by using 6x7cm film. We shoot 6x7 film with the same camera and premium Schneider Apochromatic lenses that we use for 4x5 film.
6x7cm film will support crisp enlargements to 72” in length and can be enlarged further with minimal degradation.
I recommend that you have a 4x5” or 6x7cm film on any painting that is sold. This will provide you with an excellent master matrix for future reproductions.
The next option is 10mp digital. This is less expensive and quicker but limited in the final size of the piece to 24”.
10mp digital imaging will provide 300 DPI of resolution for an 8x12 piece and with fractal-based resolution enhancement can be enlarged to 16x24 with minimal degradation.
Any original that has extremely fine line detail will reproduce better from a film scan as the resolution is so much greater.
For instance, a 10 mp camera file is 45 megs while a scan of 6x7cm film is nearly 800 megs. This is a BIG difference.
Most paintings and watercolors don’t have extreme amounts of fine line detail so they can be reproduced by 10 mp digital with out any visible loss of detail.
You can change the size of the work within limits. The limits are dependant on the nature of the piece but 80% to 120% of the original size is a reasonable expectation.
Paintings like to be made smaller as it tightens the quality of the line edges. As a painting is made bigger the lines tend to fall apart due to the media texture that rapidly becomes overwhelming on cast paper or canvas pieces.
Step 2 – The Match Print
Once the work has been photographed it is necessary to create the match print. Match prints are made by comparing test prints to the actual painting.
If the painting and a prior match print are available we can match that print but using the original painting is recommended.
Color is never quite a linear function and it is often necessary to create a mask and alter one color to get a perfect match.
The match print is specific to the printer and media on which it is made so it is necessary to repeat this process for each new media type on which the image is printed.
Successive match prints are generally less expensive because the first try is significantly closer then a file that has not been color and density corrected.
If you do not create a match print the Giclee reproduction will not match the colors of your original print.
It is very possible to take a uncorrected file and make pleasing color but it is necessary to make a match print if you want the Giclee to closely resemble the originals colors.
Step 3 – Output
Giclee prints are made on printers that use rolls or sheets of material. There is a wide variety of material available for fine artists making Giclee reproductions.
Wilhelm Institute or other test labs have archivally rated most of the materials for fine art.
For the printing shop to work with a specific material they need a profile to control the color of the output.
Most print shops have a number of standard materials for which they have good profiles. We offer Smooth Fine Art, Aquarel Watercolor, Somerset Velvet, Cotton Artists Canvas and others.
If you want to print on special materials you should expect to possibly have to gently adjust your originals to match the prior material.
Prints on paper are finished after output. We recommend letting the prints outgas for 24-36 hours prior to framing.
Prints on canvas need to be sprayed with a clear acrylic varnish made for Giclee prints. We use Breathing Color Glamour II Mat Giclee Varnish.
The spray helps to protect the canvas emulsion from UV light, abrasion and micro cracking in the stretching process. I apply 3 coats with an hour drying time in between sprayings.