The French word “gicler” means to spray or squirt, which gives you an instant insight into the principle behind Giclée printing. This is an advanced digital printing technique, most commonly used to create fine art prints and high-resolution photographs due to its superior quality compared to alternative methods.
The process requires some top-of-the-range photo printing equipment. For example, commercial Giclée printing will often be done using something like an Epson 9880 or 9900 printer, along with Epson Ultrachrome K3 inks which are designed to produce extremely accurate and realistic colours. These kinds of printers would typically be able to create prints measuring around 40 inches across, or even much larger in some cases.
The purpose of using this specialised equipment is to ensure that prints are as true to the original image as possible, something which is vital when reproducing fine art photographs, for example. When colours have to be captured perfectly and high levels of digital detail need to be preserved down to the last pixel, Giclée printing is usually the ideal choice. The print heads in these printers usually contain at least eight separate ink channels, allowing for a much greater depth of colour and range of tones compared to standard printing methods.
The choice of material used for Giclée printing can vary, which has an effect on the finished product. Watercolour or cotton rag paper is generally the most popular choice, especially for fine art prints, since it offers the classic look and feel of a painted image even when used for photo prints. This is great for prints that will be displayed in galleries, portfolios or even in homes.
Alternative choices for this kind of printing include canvas, as well as Baryta paper which is a type of specialised, fibre-based paper. It offers better responsiveness to things like toning, deep coloured inks and other effects due to its fibres being coated in photographic emulsion. This means the printing and processing time is longer, giving time for the chemicals to react and the final effect to emerge.