Tuesday, 30 August 2016

High-resolution scanning is essential in creating the best prints.

The way an artwork is ‘captured’ for printing directly affects how good and faithful your fine art reproductions will look. If you don’t get it right, your prints can appear ‘soft’, lack detail and not show the full range of tones you used in creating the work. To the public they will just look ‘flat’ when compared to the original. This lack of impact could well loose you a sale.

To achieve a quality scan, one with all the definition, colour and tone detail, we scan at a much higher resolution than we're able to print. The reason is that a normal 8bit scan can only capture 256 shades of grey, which are the basis of all other colour tones. When you paint, you have every colour and tone at your disposal. By scanning and mastering at the higher resolution of 48bit we capture thousands of shades, in fact it’s a continuous range from black to white - with no ‘steps’. This is vital in reproducing the subtle differences you create when painting a picture. So, if you want the best possible reproductions of your work, make sure it’s scanned and mastered to the highest resolution before printing.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Giclée prints don’t like getting wet!

With the wonders of today’s digital printing, it’s easy to forget that giclée inks are water-based and will run if they get wet. This is not critical with paper prints, as they are normally behind glass in a frame, but canvas prints can be exposed to all manner of risks. The popping champagne cork can cause damage, steam can ‘lift’ the ink, even wiping with a damp rag can affect the print surface. This is also important for artists thinking of ‘enhancing’ their prints by over-painting - but I’ll cover this issue in another blog.

The answer is to ‘seal’ your prints with a protective spray - Hahnemühle produces a good one. But if your canvas is to be stretched, spray it after the stretching to ensure the protective coating gets into the weave of the canvas. If you spray it before stretching, the process of stretching will open up the weave and ‘break’ the protective coating. Your canvas prints will also benefit from the UV protection the spray gives, which is important if they’re not behind glass.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The curse of the JPEG - for fine art reproduction.

JPEGs are a neat way to make a file smaller. The process was originally invented for uploading pictures to the web as the normal high-resolution, wide colour range of image files was unnecessary for  viewing on the average PC screen, the file size also had to be as small as possible for use with the internet.

JPEG works  for standard printing, as the CMYK process had a limited colour range, and high speed/low cost printing is a compromise on quality itself.
Where you need the finest quality and most faithful reproduction, and file size is not an issue, Saving an image as a JPEG represents a big compromise. 

So how does JPEG make a file Smaller? Well, instead of each colour/tone having its own reference, JPEG ‘averages’ colours; it groups similar tones together and then assigns a group reference. This makes the data, or file size, smaller. The higher the compression, the bigger the group, the less colour detail.  Of course JPEG has different levels of compression, the process that makes files smaller but, as most people use it to make the files as small as possible, they ‘squeeze’ all the colour detail out in the process.
And its this colour detail that differentiates a giclée print from standard printing. The number of tones and colour range (gamut) are much higher with giclée printing So, if you’re sending a file for giclée printing save it as an un-compressed file, a TIFF or PSD. That way you’ll get the most faithful print at the highest quality. 

Sadly, there no way to ‘recover an image saved’ as  a JPEG once its been compressed. The data is lost forever.  Re-saving  a JPEG as a TIFF or PSD will not improve the quality and the detail will be lost forever.