Getting good giclee prints?

How difficult is it to get good giclee prints of your work?  Especially in the flesh tones?

I'm very frustrated with the difficulty of getting good images of my paintings and also of paintings in general.  It seems that between the camera, the monitors and the various types of print technology, it is impossible to get an image in any medium that matches the original painting!

I just finished a portrait that I will be delivering this week and have made the best photos I could of it using my Canon DSLR camera.  I'm very pleased with the portrait, however, and wanted the very best giclee print of it I could get so I took it to a local printer here in Atlanta who has a national reputationf or producing top quality giclees and had him do a scan and make a full size giclee print for me.  He took four weeks to do the scan and print.  I now have his scan and my photos to compare.

The print he made looks nice, but when I compare it side by side to the original, the original looks much better!  Compared to the original, the print looks slightly "washed out".  It looks like the print needs a touch more magenta in it because the flesh tones seems a bit pale.

They use a 4"x5" large-format camera with a BetterLight Super8K scanback, the shutter is open for 12 to 15 minutes and the images are up to 384 megapixels, so I assume the equipment isn't the problem.  The service includes color matching.

It it common for giclees to be off a bit in color?  Are flesh tones that difficult to match?

Comments

  • edited September 6
    I too am currently having paintings scanned and printed at a local professional print shop.  I tried this 15 years ago also.    Then, I was quite upset at the difference and he and I played with colours, but in the end, I found they will never match.   I concluded, this is what makes the painting "An Original".

    The ones now are in burnt umber only.    We tried a smooth card and a textured linen card.    Same settings on the printer, completely different results.   The smooth card has a yellowy tint to it and the linen is quite dark and almost a deep alizarin crimson to it in places.

    I remember when studying art history in High School, I would look at glossy art books and noticed that each book had a different colour to the same picture.   I would then go to the gallery and see the painting in real life.    They were always so much more vibrant.

    So I have given up my attempt to faithfully match the painting in print.   This time, I am going with what print looks right on its own merits. 

    I have no idea about flesh tones, but presume they are the same as animals and landscape and buildings.

    Hope this helps even if not specifically about giclees.
  • @mstrick96
    If you are paying for color matching it should match your original. No excuses. I ain't rocket science.
    Demand correct color.

  • Well, I don't think they can do it.  We're on the third iteration.  They are getting closer, but the colors are just not rich enough.  What he is doing is trial and error now.  He will "try" someting and print it to see if it works.  
    I had to take my original back today because I need to ship it (to my client. I can't monkey with them any more. 
    The printer is going to keep trying.  
  •  I just looked up Wikipedia and found this, if it is any help?

    "...The name was originally applied to fine art prints created on a modified Iris printer in a process invented in the late 1980s. It has since been used loosely to mean any fine-art printing, usually archival, printed by inkjet. It is often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to suggest high quality printing, but is an unregulated word with no associated warranty of quality..."
  • edited September 10
    There's something I'm not understanding here. You've done a painting you're happy with and it's been sold.  Why are perfect giclée prints needed? No giclée will ever give a perfect reproduction of a painting.  Paintings are paintings and photographic prints are photographic prints. No camera and printer will ever reproduce exactly what we humans see in a painting. You have the raw digital image so why do you need a print?  The painting is sold already. Was it so good that you think you'll  also be able to sell giclée prints of it? Can you post a photo of the painting for us to see? It must be awesome.
  • edited September 10
    @mstrick96
    If you are paying for color matching it should match your original. No excuses. I ain't rocket science.
    Demand correct color.

    We can demand perfection until the cows come home but no photographic print will ever perfectly reproduce a fine art painting. The human touch renders such paintings special, unique and immune to algorithms that would make perfect reproductions. Fine art is not like commercial art. It's not like designing labels for soda cans. 
  • @tassieguy
    It is sold and gone and I want a good print for myself to use to show what I can do and for future display.  Also, the client is interested in possibly getting a print for himself, since the original is a gift for his daughter.  
    Also, if I'm going to pay $150 for a digital capture and a print, I expect something much closer than what I have been getting,  You haven't seen any of the three versions I was given, so you can't criticize me for expecting better.
    And no, i can't post a photo of it.  As I said, it is a gift (Christmas) and I won't post it anywhere until after it has been presented to my client's daughter.


  • mstrick96 said:
    @tassieguy
    It is sold and gone and I want a good print for myself to use to show what I can do and for future display.  Also, the client is interested in possibly getting a print for himself, since the original is a gift for his daughter.  
    Also, if I'm going to pay $150 for a digital capture and a print, I expect something much closer than what I have been getting,  You haven't seen any of the three versions I was given, so you can't criticize me for expecting better.
    And no, i can't post a photo of it.  As I said, it is a gift (Christmas) and I won't post it anywhere until after it has been presented to my client's daughter.


    Perhaps you could post a small section of the painting and prints which shows what you are having difficulty with?  It would not be identifiable or give any secrets away as to subject, composition etc.
    @KingstonFineArt, no, not rocket science;  but colour, is a science, nevertheless
  • @toujours
    That probably wouldn't help anything. The printer managed to get a print that looks sort of OK if it is not next to the original.  I've showed both to two artists who have very good eyes for color and both agree with my assessment that the print should be better.  I'm still working with him to figure out what he is doing wrong.  I'm hearing from a lot of artists that the quality of this vendor's prints has declined.

    @KingstonFineArt is correct that the giclee print should match the original.  There is something wrong with this vendor's equipment or the ICC profiles of the equipment, or his processes.  I suspect he is not using and profiling his equipment correctly.  

    I haven't gotten everything figured out yet, but in the future, I'm going to take my own RAW images to see if I can get accurate color on my vendor's printer.  I'm also going to get what I need to calibrate my BenQ monitor.  With good ICC profiles, I should be able to do that.   I've just got to learn how to do all of thet. 



  • edited September 11
    I agree that the colour should be pretty close to the original if you're paying for a giclee. And I like the idea of having a print of our paintings to show people who are interested in our work. And also just as a memento of the painting. I sometimes feel sad when I sell a painting I particularly like. It's like selling one's children. It would be nice to have an album I could flip through from time to time.  :)
  • @mstrick96
    Icc profiles are specific to the printer and the paper. You would need your vendors icc files installed on your computer. In PS you do menu View/Proof Setup/Custom. You select and apply the icc for the printer/paper.  To see the print purview for the setup you select menu View/Proof Colors. Below is the setup for my Epson printer. 

    You then manipulate the color to match the original in the Proof Colors.  Save it a color corrected file. With a BenQ monitor and up to date OS software you should be able to get very close to correct on your screen. You're right that the vendors ICCs my be corrupted and need to be refreshed.

    I bought my Epson 7800 in 2005 because bad prints were costing me too much. It has continued to make beautiful correct prints. But it costs about $1200 a year to feed with ink.

    Some paintings are just so out of gamut. So that a lot of masking and other tricks have to be applied. Most printing vendors will not go that far. They apply only general solutions. Yet they charge for CUSTOM work. There are great printers who will work with you. Usually at a price.

    I can not find the equivalent processes in Affinity

    I sold hundreds of reproductions and original digital prints from my 7800 at juried art fairs for about 5 years. At best on a bright sunny day with a few edibles I recollect almost breaking even. 



  • @KingstonFineArt
    Thanks!  That's helpful.

    An artist friend bought a printer with the idea of making her own prints and selling printing services.  She made some good portrait prints for me, but she found that she couldn't make a profit at it for the same reasons you gave.  I think the commercial printers are just churning "stuff" out as fast as they can and only do minimal "color correction" because of the expense of the giclee supplies and materials plus they have overhead and labor to factor in.

     found a guy in England who has a website, www.colourmanagement.net, and he gives a really good explanation of icc profiles and how to use them. I'm using his site as a starting point to learn as much as I can about setting up my own color manage process. 

    My vendor uses Canon ImagePROGRAF printers and has a couple of the latest generation ones.  Even though we have had a lot of difficulty with getting a good print, he is interested in working with me to help my do my own imaging and editing so that he can do the printing, so I won't have any problem getting his ICC files.  It looks like Canon tries to make calibration and generatin of the ICC files as automatic as possible, but I'm having trouble finding out how they go about it.  More digging is required!

    I need to get a color patch target and a colorimeter that I can use to develop the ICC files for my camera and monitor.  I have a Canon EOS Rebel T6 camera and a BenQ sw2700pt monitor.  Do you have any recommendations for what I need to get?  

    Also, other than www.colourmanagement.net, do you have recommendation for sources I can go to to educate myself better?  

  • I've shipped the original to my client and he is thrilled with it!  

    The latest print still doesn;t quite match, but I've decided to be satisfied with it.  My vendors is going to work with me to help me set up my own digital capture/editing capability and then send the files to him for printing.  We'll see if that will work better.

    Through all of this, I managed to develop a good relationship with them!

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