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Create Outstanding Art Prints from Your Own Photos

Updated on August 29, 2016
Lee Hansen profile image

Graphic designer, digital artist and paper crafter. See 1000s of unique designs on her web sites (see Profile page) or Zazzle (imagefactory)

Image Factory Graphics giclee photo poster
Image Factory Graphics giclee photo poster | Source

Affordable Prints, Posters and Large Size Photographs From Your Digital Artwork

What is a Giclee Print? Giclee ("to spray", in French) is the process of printing artwork reproductions, one at a time, by means of high quality large format ink jet printers. A gicllee print may be created from any high quality digital file: original computer artwork, digital photographs and scanned or digitized images of art created in two-dimensional media such as oil, pastel, ink or acrylics.

Many print shops and online vendors offer low-cost good quality giclee prints - they call them canvas prints, or canvas wraps. You can have your own art or photos printed on canvas and stretched like an original artist painting.

Giclee art prints can be produced on a variety of fine art media or substrate including smooth or textured watercolor paper, canvas, photo paper or rag content poster stock. Archival inks - tested to endure for up to 100 years without loss of brilliance or quality - are used for the finest art and photo prints.

After printing, each reproduction giclee print is hand-trimmed and prepared for framing. Canvas prints can be mounted on traditional wood stretchers or matted and framed. Photographic prints and watercolor giclée prints are usually framed under glass.

Stargazer lily art print
Stargazer lily art print | Source

Giclee Art Prints vs Offset Printing

The differences between giclee art prints and offset printing

Giclee prints cost more to produce than offset prints on a per print basis, but you can buy a single print when you want to make a custom poster or piece of art into a large format print. Most offset print runs require a minimum order of 500 pieces. Giclee print orders are usually produced in small quantities - a single print is not uncommon. Both processes begin with a digital image created either from an original file or from a high quality scan of two-dimensional artwork.

Prints must almost always be hand trimmed, as opposed to offset press prints manufactured and trimmed in lin bulk on high speed presses with automatic cutters to trim away excess paper edges.

A major advantage of making prints using the giclee method is that you can order very small quantities - one or a few prints rather than 100 or more. So, the per print cost is higher for these prints but the overall cost for your print run is less than the cost for offset printing. Also, the look and feel of an art print is closer to that of the original media - a photograph can be printed on photographic paper; a watercolor print can be printed on rag-content artist-quality watercolor paper.

You can print inkjet imaging art prints on quality stretchable canvas - and, you can apply paint over any areas on the canvas print to further enhance the artwork or to create a mixed-media piece of art from your giclee print.

Giclee Art Print Process - Digital images become works of art on artist papers and canvas

Cape Cod Water Lily
Cape Cod Water Lily | Source

Canvas Prints, Poster Prints

The more familiar name for these art prints today is canvas prints ... many print vendors offer canvas wrapped prints at bargain prices. If you have a large format printer, you can load it with art quality paper and create poster size prints in your home, studio or office.

Low Cost Giclee Print Services

If you have a good digital image (300 dpi or high megapixel photo) and want a quality large format print, canvas wrap or poster, you can order affordable prints from most large format print vendors.

Giclee printers can make a digital print larger than your original digital image if the image quality is good enough. They use special software to process the digital file to enlarge the pixels without too much distortion. This is known as RIP (raster image processing) and can make a billboard size print from a high quality picture or digital file.

Digital Printing, Art Giclee Resources - Printing, scanning, retouching, ink and paper

Learn more about the process, equipment and costs for making high-end giclee prints. Find resources for printing your art or photos as posters, art prints, calendars or banners.

Wide Format Printers - Print Your Own Art on Canvas

Print jumbo photos, scanned 2 dimensional artwork, digital photos and images in brilliant color on fine art papers with a large format printer.

Wide format printers are available from the most popular manufacturers. The technology is mature and you can buy a printer that can make art prints from HP, Canon or Epson.

When I worked in a commercial print shop, we used an Epson large format printer to create prepress proofs. It made gorgeous prints that looked like they had been run through an offset press. Today much of the fast print world uses digital printers of similar quality that can run high capacity jobs very quickly.

HP Printers are Top Notch for Art Prints

HP Designjet Z3200 24-inch Photo Printer
HP Designjet Z3200 24-inch Photo Printer

We have a super large format image printer that can print canvas, paper and art stock by sheet or roll up to 50 inches wide - it's similar to this Designjet, and is a model made by HP.

HP Deskjet 9800 Wide Format Color Printer (C8165A#A2L)
HP Deskjet 9800 Wide Format Color Printer (C8165A#A2L)

The HP Deskjet 9800 wide format color printer is the model I have in my own studio.

I've been printing with my HP 9800 for more than 5 years, and it's still working well and printing beautifully.


Mona Lisa - Eye Tracker Video

Fascinating visual shows how people look at the Mona Lisa - where eyes go most when people look at da Vinci's famous portrait of a wistful woman. This also shows what they don't bother to look at.

© 2008 Lee Hansen

Artistic Commentary on Giclee Prints

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  • GetitScene profile image

    Dale Anderson 7 months ago from The High Seas

    Nice article, thank you. I had never heard of Giclee Printing and I happen to have several friends in the printing business! This actually helped me with some things I am doing right now.

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    shaneknight 4 years ago

    loved the prints

  • profile image

    shaneknight 4 years ago

    just a great set of art work you have shared loved the lens

  • profile image

    JennySui 6 years ago

    I am a big fan of Giclee prints.

  • Joy Neasley profile image

    Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

    I am curious about this. How is this different from using a basic inkjet printer?

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    Myrle-Beach-Photography 7 years ago

    This is a great lens. Very nice photos. If anyone is in the myrtle beach area, come check me out at Myrtle Beach Photography

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    anonymous 8 years ago

    I want to get prints the size of postcards. Maybe Glicee is overkill for this.

  • poptastic profile image

    Cynthia Arre 8 years ago from Quezon City

    As artists, my husband and I have resorted to Giclee printing in the past in order for our artworks to be appreciated by more people. It really is a great alternative to offset printing (and the prints have a more special feel to them too). Wonderfully informative lens. *blessed*

  • lasertek lm profile image

    lasertek lm 8 years ago

    Very interesting lens. Great to know more about Giclee Prints. I have a lens on printing consumables and compatible toner. Hope you can drop by sometime.

  • annetteghallowe1 profile image

    annetteghallowe1 8 years ago

    I have some photos I have wanted to have made into a giclee print. Thanks for the resources and all the info related to them!

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    anonymous 8 years ago

    I have often noticed Giclee prints on AllPosters and wondered what they were - now I know! Thank you.

  • profile image

    anonymous 9 years ago

    Nice lens with good information. Thank you for sharing.