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Getting Started with Giclee Printing
By James M. Theopistos


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A common question we are asked is how to get started and have FinerWorks print your original work. If you are an artist who wants to create prints of your original work as reproductions, the process might seem to get into some new territory. If you are a photographer, printing your work is probably more familiar.

Step 1 – Digitizing Artwork

Digitizing artwork simply means converting the original work into a digital image.

If you have photos and they were shot digitally than you can pretty much ignore this step. If you have old negatives, slides or even hardcopy photos, you will want to have access to a good scanner which is capable of scan the hardcopies you have. If you do not have a scanner, do some research and find a suitable scanner which is capable in scan what you have (slides, negatives, etc.) for $100-$200. Fortunately, these types of scanners are very common and easy to find at office supply or electronic stores.  Scanners will come with software which makes the process simple. Since you intend to have the digital image printed you will want to make sure it is digitized at a very high resolution. You scanner software should be able to tell you how to do this.

With artwork there are various means of converting an original into a digital image file. The most common method is to have the artwork photographed.  While we have written and discussed the process of photographing artwork, we recommend artists have this professionally done when possible. If you are comfortable behind a camera just remember several things:  shoot as high a resolution as possible with a powerful camera,  shoot with a tripod, use a consistent light source across the entire work of art, and make sure you are using a high quality lens so your image has good focus. 

Even better and more accurate than photographing is to have the artwork scanned with a large format scanner. While the principal is the same as scanning a photograph as described above, usually you will need to have a scanner that can accommodate the size of the original. You won’t be able to find one of large format these at your local office supply store so you will need to find a company that has one of these and can do this for you. Finding a company in your local area may seem a bit of a challenge so I would start by calling various reprographic companies near you. Many times they can at least refer you to someone who can do large format scanning. You can also do a Google search for large format scanning services in you city or town.

Step 2– Color Correct Your Image

Color correction is recommended if you want to get the most accurate reproduction in color especially if you had your artwork photographed instead of scanned.  Simply printing the image without the color correction process may still yield decent results but there is no guarantee it will be correct. All too often people base the colors on what they see on their computer screen, not realizing the computer may be giving them an inaccurate representation of the actual tones.

Fortunately there is a process which lets you accurately color correct your image. This process is called soft proofing. Before soft proofing you will need special hardware and software to calibrate your computer monitor. Once that is done you can adjust your image accurately with a programs like Adobe Photoshop.  A search online for soft proofing will yield a lot of information on this topic plus step by step instructions. We also have detailed instructions on soft proofing here at FinerWorks.com.

Step 3 – Ordering Online

 Once your work have been converted to a digital image (and color corrected if you so chose) you can start ordering prints from us via our web site. This involves uploading your image and choosing, type of print product you want to order, along with sizes and options. We can ship the printed work direct to you or you can have it shipped in your name direct to your own customers.

For additional information on printing your artwork, make sure you visit our help page and blog. Many artists are having become successful in making reproductions of their work by simply becoming familiar with the digital imaging process.

Category: An Artist's Guide to Digital Printing
Created: Friday, March 2, 2012, Last Updated: Sunday, December 7, 2014


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About James Theopistos Aside from being an enthusaistic promoter of the visual arts field as it relates to individual artists' success, he also serves as the acting Chief Development Officer for FinerWorks.com, an online color print lab for artists and photographers.
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