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Help System > What is a giclee print?

The five requirements for a giclee print

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framed giclee print of mountains
Framed giclee print with border

Hi, welcome to Indigo Image Lab! My name's Neil, and I’m going to explain to you the five requirements for a giclee print.

Sometimes you’ll see the word giclée with an accent, and sometimes you won’t. Either way, it means the same thing.

A giclee print is the name given to a special, extremely high quality inkjet print...the very best that you can possibly receive. There are five requirements that must be met in order for a print to be properly called a giclee print.

These five requirements are: High resolution printing, at least 10 different colors of ink, genuine pigment inks, archival, acid-free paper, and a fully color-calibrated workflow.

Let’s look at each one of these qualities briefly. Check out our YouTube channel for more in-depth videos of these qualities.

1: High resolution printing

sample print on Moab Entrada Rag Bright paper
Giclee prints are printed at an extremely high resolution.

A giclee print is printed at an extremely high resolution, to bring out the fine details and subtle shading of the original image.

Now this means, of course, that you have to supply us with a large, high-resolution image for these super-sharp results. A small, blurry image will result in a blurry print.

But if you’re a digital artist or photographer, or if you get your canvas or other artistic work properly scanned and photographed at a high resolution, you’ll be stunned and delighted at the detail within the print you receive.

2: At least ten different ink colors

illustration of the 11 colors of ink we use
A giclee print should be produced with at least 10 colors of ink. We use 11.

A giclee print is produced with at least ten different colors of ink. We use eleven: cyan, photo cyan, magenta, photo magenta, yellow, red, blue, matte black, photo black, photo gray, and light gray.

You may be wondering, why so many colors?

Because all those different inks can combine to produce a breathtaking range of colors, from the most vivid, saturated purples and greens all the way to gorgeous, smooth pastels.

Since we use so many vivid inks, we can produce prints with colors that you cannot get from regular 4-color inkjet prints or drugstore photo prints.

This is especially true for black and white prints. Because we use at least 3 different colors of black, photo gray, and gray ink, we can produce a tonal range that will astound you, from the darkest blacks you’ve ever seen to the most delicate gray gradients with no visible dots.

3: Pigment ink

box of red pigment ink held in hands
Giclee prints use genuine, fade-resistant pigment inks.

A giclee print uses pigment ink that is highly resistant to fading.

Most inexpensive inkjet printers use dye ink, which gets its colors from chemicals dissolved in a liquid, sort of like when you dissolve food coloring in water.

Dye ink is subject to fading over time, and because of that, we do not use dye ink.

All of our inks are pigment inks, which contain a fine suspension of actual colored pigment in a liquid that’s sprayed on the paper.

When the ink dries, the dry pigment remains on the surface. Our genuine Canon Lucia PRO pigment inks are engineered to be fade-resistant for many decades, for a lifetime of beauty.

4: Acid-free, archival paper

panoramic archival print held in hands
Giclee prints use acid-free, archival, museum-quality paper that will not yellow.

The paper used in a giclee print is special, and expensive, because it is carefully produced to not be acidic.

Acid in paper is what causes it to yellow over time, which of course is not acceptable for work that you display or sell.

If you use an acid-free paper, then your prints will not turn yellow, and so that’s all we use.

Indigo Image Lab only uses name-brand, acid-free, 100% cotton rag or alpha cellulose fine art paper, or acid-free, premium photo papers, or 100% polycotton canvas, all of which are specifically manufactured to not yellow or discolor over the decades, so the whites and pastels in your work look the same in 50 years as they do now.

5: Color accuracy

image of color print and calibrated monitor
Calibrated monitors and proper printer profiles are essential for color-accurate prints.

Color accuracy is critically important when producing giclee prints.

When artists send us their work, they want the colors to be spot-on. They want their oranges to be orange, not orange red, and they want their violets to be violet, not bluish violet, and we deliver the color accuracy that artists demand, every day.

In order to ensure that the colors in the prints will be what you expect, we use high-quality, hardware calibrated monitors, and a fully color-managed workflow with the proper color profiles for the printer and paper for your job.

If you’re using a good quality monitor that you’ve calibrated with hardware, we guarantee that the colors in the prints you’ll get from us are just what you expect.


image of giclee print with flowers
Studio photo of one of our giclee prints, with a hand in the shot for scale.

If all five of the above qualities are in place, you know you’re getting a real giclee print, which of course is exactly what you’ll get from us, every time.

It doesn’t matter which paper or canvas you pick: we only produce the finest giclee prints anywhere. We invite you to try us out today. We’re confident you’ll absolutely love what you receive from Indigo Image Lab.

If you have any questions, please allow us to help you. Why not place an order today?

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