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Giclée Information

Giclée Explained

Key Points:

  • High Resolution Inkjet based Printing Process
  • Printing on Standard or Non-Standard Media – E.G. Canvas
  • Print Process uses More Inks (Up to 8 Colours) than Conventional Printing
  • Reproduces a Much Wider Range and Depth of Colour than Conventional Printing
  • Produced using Archive Quality Inks.
  • Produced on Expertly Calibrated Printing Devices to Ensure Highest Reproduction Accuracy.

N.B. Unfortunately, some prints are claimed to be Giclée prints, but are reproduced using conventional (CMYK) printing processes – beware of these inferior quality prints.

Defining Giclée

Unfortunately there is no universally agreed definition for the term Giclée. So its always worth investigating how a Giclée print has been produced before you buy it !

Our simplest definition for Giclée is:

Giclée (pron. 'jee-clay') - a process for printing fine-art using very fine droplets of ink to produce very accurate reproductions.’

But of course there is quite a lot more to it than that.

To be of the very highest quality, a Giclée print will comply with all of the key points above – if any of the key points are absent, the quality of the print may be drastically reduced.

The Origin of Giclée

The first Giclée prints were produced in the early 1990s when the first large format inkjet printers emerged that were capable of printing on non-standard printing paper and other stocks .

These devices were originally designed to enable specialist printers and reprographics companies to produce ‘proofs’ of advertisements to be placed in newspapers and magazines – on the actual stock that they would finally be printed on. It was soon realised that these devices could also be used to reproduce fine-art on high quality art stocks and on real canvas.

The term ‘Giclée’, derived from the French ‘to-spray’, was coined to differentiate these fine-art prints from prints produced using a conventional printing process.

Giclée vs Conventional Printing

Over 95% of colour printing today is produced using an ‘offset lithographic’ printing process using 4 coloured printing inks (CMYK inks). These four inks, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K), are applied to paper in small dots of varying size. The different dots of ink are ‘offset’ from one another on the paper (usually in rosette type shapes) and together form the illusion of a relatively broader range of colour.

Just look closely enough at any magazine or conventionally printed material and you will see that what your eye sees as an image with a wide range of colour - is in fact produced using only four coloured inks.

CMYK printing has inherent limitations. Reproducing the entire spectrum of colour by placing different amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink next to each other on paper – is of course impossible !

But, with the skills of a very experienced printer or reprographics expert these inherent limitations can be overcome to enable colour printed material of a reasonably high quality to be produced at a very low cost.


However, it’s one thing to produce a magazine or product brochure with acceptable colour reproduction quality - and quite another to faithfully reproduce fine-art with a wide range and vibrant depth of colour !

Conventionally produced CMYK art prints look generally dull and lifeless and lack the vibrancy of real Giclée prints.

Giclée – High Fidelity Printing

Today’s most advanced printing devices, used for producing Giclée prints, use up to eight different coloured inks, thereby producing a far wider range and depth of colour than conventional CMYK printing. But crucially they also mix inks. So, rather than simply arranging inks together to form the illusion of ‘continuous tone’ colour, Giclée print devices mix a wide palette of colours together to produce truly vibrant, accurate colour reproductions with wide tonal ranges.

In the same way that you can mix together the colours red, blue and green together with white and black to produce almost, but not quite, the entire spectrum of colour, Giclée printing mixes colour to produce a colour range that extend to the perceptible limits of the eye.

Giclee on Canvas – Looks just like the Original !

One of the major benefits of the Giclée process is the ability to print on real artists canvas. The result is stunning, vibrant colour reproduction combined with the texture of real canvas – prints that look just like an original work of art.

Giclée Archive Inks – Reproductions that Last Lifetimes !

Until very recently there were just two main types of ink used by high-resolution inkjet devices - pigment and dye-based inks.

Pigment inks are very stable and have properties that inhibit fading. But, they produce a limited range of colour – not very suitable for Giclée prints.

Dye based inks produce a very wide range of vibrant colour. But, unfortunately they do deteriorate quite rapidly – again not very suitable for Giclée printing.

Today’s advanced hybrid inks combine the benefits of both Pigment and Dye based inks – vibrant, long lasting colour. These ‘archive quality’ inks have been independently tested to resist any visible fading for over 100 years !

N.B. Again be aware that some Giclée prints that you may be offered, are produced using non-archive quality inks.

Giclée – Expertly Produced

Perfect Giclée prints are a result of the expert application of today’s most advanced printing technologies. However, producing the highest quality prints requires considerable expertise in order to produce the first high quality reproduction, and to ensure that the quality of the subsequent reproductions matches the first print.

The fine tolerances of highly accurate Giclée print devices need expert maintenance and re-calibration to ensure consistent quality.

OldMastersOnline Giclée Prints

All our Giclée canvasses are:

  • Printed on highest quality canvas as used by Museums and Art Galleries across the world.
  • Produced using genuine ‘archive-quality’ inks using the most advanced colour printing process available.
  • Reproduced with over 10 years of expertise in high quality print reproduction.

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