The Process of Making Fine Art Prints
There is more to making a quality fine art print than you might imagine. I take a lot of pride in the fact I produce all the key elements of my art myself. As a result, I stretch and prepare all my canvases, frame all my original artworks and produce my own prints. Keep reading to find out why that is important and learn about how my prints are made.
Step 1: Photographing the artwork
This is where the whole process starts. In order to get a good print you need a good image. I’ve tried many different techniques over the years, but I now photograph my artwork with the highest resolution I possibly can. Using the best digital camera I can afford, I end up with an 80 megapixel image, which can show the finest detail even in the large 140cm x 100cm artwork I’m using as an example here. As you can see from the image on the left you can make out the individual threads of this large canvas.
Getting the image right, makes all the later stages so much easier. Lighting the artwork evenly (i.e. flat and uniform across the whole canvas) is more important than the camera used. If this isn’t done correctly you’ll end up with areas of the work that are brighter than others, or even worse, areas of different colours.
I’ve found that shutting out the natural light and using daylight bulbs (from the same manufacturer) that are positioned a long way from either side of the artwork works best. It may sound counter intuitive to block out daylight, which I then replace with daylight bulbs, but this means I’m only using light of exactly the same tone.. If I worked in a studio with huge, north facing, skylights, I probably wouldn’t need this, but unfortunately I don’t, but until I move into that studio with the huge skylights this works just as well.
The Printer and Inks
I use the new Epson SC-P900 printer that also uses the best inks Epson produce UltraChrome Pro. The printer is capable of printing 5,760 x 1,440 dots per inch (far more than the human eye can perceive) and the black and grey inks last for up to 400 years, if they’re kept in the right conditions, and the colour inks last up to 100 years.
I use Somerset Enhanced Velvet paper that will “last for hundreds of years (in good storage conditions) and won’t discolour or fall apart.” It has an invisible coating that ensures the printer ink lays down perfectly and gives the prints a beautiful texture.
Step 2: Colour Matching
The fun really begins with the colour matching. It would be logical to think that as most of my art is produced with Bic biro and white oil paint that the colour matching would be simple. Unfortunately, that would be wrong. The way I produce my art means there are many subtle shades of brown and blue in the work. I work very hard to make sure this subtlety is reproduced accurately in my prints, which can take a while. In this example it look me a full day to get the colours on the New Forest Deer print right.
Once the image is in Photoshop there are multiple things that can be adjusted. Without getting too technical, depending on the situation, I adjust the colour balance, histogram levels and light curves to the whole image or certain sections of it.
The process is pretty simple really; I print a few strips of the image to get a feel of what needs to change, then make changes in Photoshop repeatedly, until I get close enough to try a full print, which usually shows other issues that need to be adjusted. I can go through his process multiple times, over many days, but I always get there in the end!
Step 3: Mounting and Framing
The Mounts I use are from Brampton Picture Framing and are “Fine Art Trade Guild certified for showcasing… artwork without fading or damage… These mountboards are 1400 micron (1.4mm) thick and have a crisp 45 degree bevel on the inner edge, cut by a precise computerised mountboard cutter accurate to 0.02mm… all of our picture mounts are either white core or Conservation grade mountboard.” I use a double mount on my limited edition prints, just to add that extra special touch.
All my frames are from the Ready Made Picture Frame Company They are solid wood, have traditional glass, and come in a choice of 2 designs. The dark frame is shown here but simply visit any framed print product to see the light wood alternative.
Certificate of Authenticity
Each limited edition print is signed and dated with the edition number on the print itself. You also get a certificate of authenticity, signed by me, with details of the print, my process and inspiration behind the work.
The Finished Product
So, there you have it. Should you choose to invest in a limited edition print, you will have a piece of art which will not only last a lifetime, but probably onto the next generation and beyond.