Giclee Printing



The term “Giclée” designates the process of digital inkjet printing for the reproduction of art.


The term «Giclée» emerged in 1991 in the United States and began to be used by Jack Duganne of Nash Editions to designate the first digital inkjet printing process for the reproduction and edition of art.

The first run was made in 1989 on an Iris 3047 Inkjet printer, using Aquarelle Rag paper. Originally, this printer was intended for the prepress world as a proofing system, and at the initiative of Graham Nash (one of the members of Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, CSNY) it became the first inkjet printer who edited a digital work. Currently, this printer is on display in an American museum.

In 1991, Graham Nash was the first to open the doors of a Fine Art digital printing studio: Nash Editions in Los Angeles.

However, we do not always know how to get all the performance they can give us, especially if we are just amateurs and the camera is not our work tool. Therefore, we have consulted several professional photographers to give us some simple tips to get the most out of the camera on our phone.


To specify, the Giclée or inkjet printing system consists of depositing the pigment in the form of small spray drops on the support. The image is printed in this way, achieving great detail in the forms, and can also produce wefts, patterns and continuous tone. In this way, a high-quality digitized piece is obtained, but with the appearance of manual reproduction, imitating strokes, brushstrokes.

Although Giclée prints are more expensive to produce compared to the typical four color process, this type of printing yields higher quality prints. Production time on a print is fast and allows the artist to have precise control over the result by managing color and selecting the most suitable paper.

Aside from the association of the word “giclée” with the early Iris printers, the word has also been associated as a synonym for prints using fade-resistant pigment inks, on archival-quality fineart substrates, and the inkjet printers that use them. These printers currently use the same CMYK color process, but with seven or more ink cartridges with different shades of color. For example, in addition to the basic CMYK, they also use light cyan, light magenta, and light black (gray) and in some models green, orange, and light gray, thus increasing apparent resolution, overall gamut, and providing gradual transitions and color gradients. higher quality.


In the last 10 years at Zlick, we have experimented and worked with the photography-oriented Glicée process, so we can say that at this time, it is the print production process with the greatest durability and capable of the highest visual quality, not in vain is already a museum standard, and is present in the main photography collections. Throughout these ten years, top-level local and international artists have passed through our workshop and we are lucky to continue counting on they. We have now created an online shop for sheets and prints where all the products are produced using this technology, so that you can enjoy prints of high visual quality and guaranteed durability.

Giclée printing (Giclée printing in English), also known as digital engraving or Fine Art printing, is a digital procedure used in the edition of original works of art. It represents the natural technological evolution of more conventional reproduction methods, such as engraving or screen printing.

Both the Giclée technique and traditional procedures are usually used when an artist or collector wishes to serialize work for distribution and sale, but they also allow the reproduction of unique originals or monotypes.

To make a Giclée print, work is used in digital format (or, failing that, it can be digitized), opening up a whole world of new creative possibilities for the artist, with better features and at lower prices.

But not all Giclée prints that are carried out are the same, there is a wide range of qualities depending on the paper chosen, the inks used, the machinery available and especially the technical knowledge of the publisher.

That is why this new reproduction system has begun to be standardized by material suppliers such as Epson, which has created the Digigraphie seal in order to demand high and regularly controlled quality levels.

UMFotografía has been recognized for its Giclée prints as the first and only publisher authorized by Epson Spain with the Digigraphie seal within the national framework.

As a photographer I have found that many of the images I create end up staying online or on my computer, never getting printed. Although there is nothing wrong with this, there is something special about being able to enjoy a piece printed and mounted on a wall. Whether you want to print your works to enjoy on your own or you want to sell them, this guide to the Giclée printing process will help you get started.

Giclée is a term for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers, usually referring to high-quality prints. The term was coined by American printer manufacturer Jack Duganne in 1991 and describes the way ink is applied to paper during the printing process. The French term literally translates to “squirt,” and in certain contexts it can have a sexual connotation. Having made this clear, you may (or may not) want to refer to this type of printing by another name, such as digital or inkjet printing. If you make your prints on durable paper, you can call them prints on durable paper.

Although Giclée prints are more expensive to produce compared to the typical four color lithography process, this type of printing has more benefits than Giclée prints.

higher quality. Production time on a print is generally faster and generally allows the artist more control over the result through color correction and the type of paper used.

Digital, inkjet or Giglée photographic prints can be divided into three categories:

Photographs printed directly from the digital original (often called digital original photographs).

Photographs that have been manipulated or enhanced with the use of Photoshop, Lightroom, or other editing software prior to printing. Depending on the amount of work done, these may also be called reproductions or original works of art.

Photographs that have been manipulated or enhanced after printing. Again, these may be called reproductions or original works of art.

Regardless of what category your works fall into, if you print a high-quality inkjet piece, you can call it a Giclée print and sell it as open or limited editions, signed or unsigned, depending on what you prefer.

Related Article: What to Consider When Making Limited Edition Prints

Choose paper carefully

When selecting the paper for your Giclée print, you will need to consider a balance between how the print will look and the consistency of the paper. Elements you should take into consideration when choosing paper are finish, gloss and weight.


The paper’s finish can fall into one of three categories: matte, gloss, and semi-gloss. Within these categories there is a spectrum of further variations, but knowing the difference between the three main categories will help.

Matte: Matte papers come in a wide variety of textures, from ultra-smooth to textured. These papers do not show any reflections and work well in glass frames and under bright lights. Fingerprints and dust are not as much of a problem for this paper as, for example, for glossy paper; however, matte paper is more easily damaged with less handling. It is recommended to wear cotton gloves when handling prints on matte paper to reduce the chances of damaging them.

Glossy: These papers have a reflective coating that gives glossy paper prints a sparkly appearance. This coating can function as a protective layer between ink and oils, preventing direct contact with hands. The downside is that fingerprints and dust are more likely to be noticeable on this type of paper. Siding also creates a glare that can be distracting, particularly when placed in a glass frame or under bright lighting.

Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss papers are a middle ground between glossy paper and matte paper, although their characteristics are less distinctive. They display brilliant colors, are fingerprint resistant, and produce less shine than glossy papers, although the finish is also less shiny. They are more durable than matte paper but do not produce the same deep blacks that can be achieved by printing on matte paper.

Take some time to think about the pros and cons of each option, and remember: whatever paper you choose, it needs to be durable. When prints are not made on durable paper, they will only have a shelf life of 10 years, and after this time the inks will fade or change color, and the paper will begin to crack. A durable-quality professional series paper will usually be labeled as such for easy recognition, so you don’t have to guess when selecting it.


Although all glossy papers look glossy to some degree, there is a difference expressed as a number from 1 to 100, from least to most glossy. Brightest isn’t always best, and the image you want to print will help you determine which paper gloss is right. Here are some general guidelines, but remember that there are no right or wrong choices, it’s all up to you to get the look you want for your work.

Use a glossier paper when printing very bright and vivid colors. These colors will appear even more vivid on paper with higher luminosity.

Use a low gloss paper when printing very light colors. If very light colors are printed on paper that is too bright, they will appear to be fading. Less glossy paper will create images with greater depth and intensity.

Use a medium gloss paper when your work has a mix of light and dark colors. Again, it’s all about achieving balance.

No matter what you choose, remember that the gloss of the paper will have much more of an impact on matte papers than semi-gloss or gloss papers.


If you’re printing images that you want to use in your portfolio, you’ll generally want to use a lighter weight paper, as it will be easier to turn the pages if the paper is less firm; In addition, it occupies less space.

When printing giclées, thicker paper is often preferred as this type of paper is less likely to wrinkle or tear, and is better for the framing process. You can use even thicker paper when printing on a large scale to prevent the paper from sagging over time.

You must know your inks

If you want your prints to last, it’s important to understand the characteristics of the different types of ink and how you’ll need to care for your finished product to extend the life of your print. You must also give this information to the buyer of the part. Some inks, particularly dye-based ones, may fade over time and should be kept out of direct sunlight, or at least behind UV protection. Use the best (pigmented) inks and papers you can afford and let the buyer know how to protect their purchase by adding this information to the Special Instructions category within the Certificate of Authenticity of the work.

Pay attention to resolution

You found a good print shop in your area that has helped you choose the right paper and ink, but the last and perhaps most important part of the process is still up to you: to make the print as precise and vivid as you want it to be, the file you submit must be the correct resolution for the size you chose to print.

The general rule of thumb tends to be that a resolution of 300DPI is the safest for most print sizes. To determine if your image fits the criteria, you must first know what size you would like the print to be. For example, using the 300 ppi criteria, if the longest side of your image will be 12 inches, then your digital image must have a minimum of 4,800 pixels in that dimension (4,800 pixels / 300 ppi = 12 inches).

Taking into consideration all the factors that affect Giclée printing may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but don’t worry too much about the details. After doing this a time or two, you’ll start to feel like it’s part of you to select the options that will take your print from good to great, and the pleasure of enjoying your work in physical form or giving it to others to see. enjoy it will be worth it.

Join the conversation: If you’ve been working with Giclée prints for a while, please share your tips with us!

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