With my art, the entire point of it is that these are Ozark colors. Therefore, it’s important to me that a print looks as close to the original work as possible. Getting the colors right in my fine art prints matters to me a lot.
Before I had a fine art printer of my own, I’d send out for prints. Sometimes they’d come back looking just a little different than the original painting. On occasion the colors come back a lot different. This happens especially when you’ve sent a file to a third party printer. It’s not their fault, they just printed what you had on the file. There are ways to get the colors right. If you send the original work of art to the printer, they can make sure the colors are correct.
Now that Wild Ozark has its own fine art printer in house, that’s my job.
It’s not always easy though. More accurately, it’s almost never easy.
Summary: Getting The Colors Right
1. Acquire quality digital image under natural lighting
2. Use software suited for the job to adjust colors
3. Make sure computer monitor is calibrated
4. Use quality printer
Types of Prints
Various types of prints exist. The ones available in large department stores are rarely archival quality, and for someone looking for a quick accent to brighten a room, it’s not necessary. These are usually printed on poster type papers or synthetic canvases and aren’t meant to outlive the buyer.
That’s not the kind of prints I make. The prints available through Wild Ozark’s online shop are meant to last your lifetime plus a good bit more – perhaps another entire lifetime, too.
What is a Giclée’?
You may have heard of this certain type of print. There is some confusion over the term Giclée’. (As I am writing this post, auto-correct wanted to say ‘giggles’, and that made me giggle.)
The word Giclée’ in french means ‘to spray’. The printer in service when this word was first introduced is no longer the one in use today. Today’s fine art printmakers use a high end inkjet type printer using pigments as opposed to dye inks. The paper or canvas used for the print is high quality fine art or cotton canvas.
What I make is considered a Giclée’- an archival, fine art print on 100% cotton rag paper. If the print I need to make is too large for my printer, I’ll outsource it to Scott’s Fine Art & Framing in Fayetteville, AR. To make sure they get colors right, I’ll have to pay them for a color corrected scan and provide the original painting for them to make comparisons.
How to Get the Colors Right
All reproductions, except block prints, which are a different form altogether, start with either a high quality photograph or scan.
The first step in getting the colors right is to start with the very best digital image. The best digital images come from a quality photograph made under natural light. Florescent, LED, and other synthetic lighting can cause issues. A high quality scanner, like the ones used at my favorite local resource, Scott’s Art & Framing in Fayetteville, is another method.
Once the digital image is acquired, I use Adobe Photoshop to make the color corrections. My computer monitor is calibrated to make sure the signal it sends to the file is the same signal the printer needs to mix the colors.
And that brings me to the printer. A desktop inkjet meant for home office use isn’t going to produce archival images. That’s because the inks are only meant to produce documents that are durable enough for their intended short-term use. It may make beautiful images in the correct colors, though. I used an Epson 4550 for a long time, and with quality papers, it made beautiful prints. But now that I have a Canon Pro-2000, I can make beautiful prints on quality papers with pigments that will last 100 years or more.
Software is involved in getting the colors right on the paper. It’s the means of communication between the computer and the printer. Learning to use the software is a learning curve, and I still have the rest of my life to learn more on that subject. I don’t think anyone will ever know it all, because the technology changes and adapts and upgrades and there are always new things to learn about doing the same old things in different ways. At the end of the day, though, what matters is whether the print that comes out of the printer looks close enough to the original painting to satisfy my criteria as Quality Assurance Officer on staff.
Always the Trouble Maker
Inevitably, there will be a painting that will not cooperate with my best intentions. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the colors right in the print. Usually, there is a problem in lighting when this happens. Sometimes, though, the pigments in the painting itself refracts or diffuses or does something to cause itself to not reproduce accurately in a photograph, scan, or on the computer monitor. So far, I’ve had a couple of my paintings do this, and it is frustrating to the point of infuriating when it happens.
In this case I had to compromise. While I couldn’t get the colors to look exactly as the original, I could at least get them to represent colors possible to achieve with my palette of earthy Ozark pigments. It still doesn’t make me happy, but it’s a solution I can at least live with.
Some of my Favorite Prints with the Right Colors – Ozark Colors:
The Many Hats of a Sole Proprietor
Since Wild Ozark is operated by a staff of one… I wear a lot of different hats. This article was brought to you while wearing my “Marketing” and “Quality Assurance” hats, lol.