Printing Giclée Prints

Welcome to the Dot to Dot guide on printing giclée prints, a comprehensive resource covering everything from giclée benefits to practical considerations like equipment and maintenance.

  1. What is Giclée Printing? 
  2. Main benefits of Giclée Printing
  3. Usage scenarios
  4. Cost Comparison
  5. Preparing artwork for Giclée Printing
  6. Preparing digital artwork for Giclée Printing
  7. Giclée Printing equipment
  8. Giclée Printing papers
  9. Quality assurance
  10. Maintenance and care
  11.  On-demand printing 

What is Giclée Printing?

Giclée (zhee-clay) printing, is a high-quality inkjet printing technique favoured by artists. The word giclée comes from the Frech ‘gicler’ to spray, relating to the way these printers spray high-quality ink onto paper or canvas. 

Main benefits of Giclée Printing

Artists favour giclée prints due to their archival quality, lasting for much longer than other digital prints. This method of printing also produces a much closer representation of the original artwork, particularly in recognising darker values. The main alternative to giclée is CMYK. CMYK is a 4 colour printing technique comprising of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black. Colours are created by layering these 4 colours on top of each other. giclée printing uses 8 – 12 colours and produces are far more accurate representation of the original artwork. 

Usage scenarios 

If you are an artist selling high-quality prints, then giclée is the way to go. This method allows your customers to enjoy a print that is high quality, lasts a long time and represents the original artwork as closely as possible. Many artists use on-demand giclée printing services to ship giclée prints directly to their customers through platforms like Etsy and Shopify. Whether you create digital artwork or scan in original paintings, giclée printing offers the best quality print.

Cost Comparison

Giclée is more expensive than other digital printing methods. It all comes down to quality. The equipment is more specialised and the pigment-based inks are of a higher quality compared to dye-based inks. The end product is a print that lasts much longer.

Preparing your artwork for Giclée Printing

When preparing original artwork for giclée printing, scanning becomes a crucial step. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Resolution: Aim for a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the final print size. This ensures your scan captures enough detail for high-quality reproduction.
  • Scanner Quality: While professional scanners offer the best results, high-quality flatbed scanners are often sufficient for most artwork. Ensure your scanner is clean and dust-free to avoid introducing imperfections into the scan.
  • Colour Settings: Calibrate your scanner regularly for accurate colour reproduction. If unfamiliar with colour settings, consider consulting a professional or using the scanner’s default settings for photographs.

Scanning Tips

  • Flatten your artwork: Ensure your artwork lies completely flat on the scanner bed to prevent distortions.
  • Crop and straighten: After scanning, use image editing software to crop any unnecessary areas and straighten the image if needed.
  • Save in a suitable format: Save your scanned file in a high-quality format like TIFF, PDF, PNG or JPG to preserve detail and avoid compression artefacts.


If you lack access to a suitable scanner or prefer professional handling, many giclée printing services offer scanning services for a fee. They possess high-quality equipment and expertise to ensure your artwork is captured with exceptional accuracy.


Preparing your digital artwork for Giclée Printing

To ensure high-quality giclée prints, follow these guidelines for your artwork files:

  • Color Mode: Save your artwork in RGB format. While giclée printing uses CMYK inks, the conversion from RGB to CMYK happens during the printing process, and providing your file in RGB allows for the widest colour gamut to be captured. Note: Be aware that some minor colour variations might occur during this conversion.
  • Resolution: Ensure your file has a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the final print size. This ensures sharp and detailed prints.
  • Cropping and Bleed: No crop marks or bleed are required. The printing service will handle any necessary cropping or add bleed (the area that gets trimmed after printing) based on their specific printing process.
  • File Format: Submit your file in either TIFF, PDF, PNG or JPG format. These are widely accepted formats for giclée printing.


Giclée Printing equipment

Is printing giclée at home an option? Giclée printers are not the same as your standard home printer. Where your home printer has 4 print heads (C,M,Y,K) a giclée printer has up to 10 print heads contributing to way more control over colour representation, prints at over 300DPI and uses pigment-based inks. Professional giclée printers cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands. Home-orientated options are becoming more widely available however there are limitations such as print size and speed, number of print heads and durability. 

Giclée Printing papers

Giclée printing utilizes archival-quality papers specifically designed to elevate the visual impact and longevity of your artwork. These papers come in two main categories: smooth and textured.

Smooth papers, often made from cotton or alpha-cellulose, offer a bright white and natural (off white) surface that produces crisp details and vibrant colours, making them ideal for high-contrast images, photographs, and graphic art.

Textured papers, available in various textures like canvas, watercolour, and fine art paper, provide a unique visual dimension that can enhance the feel of the original artwork. They often have a warmer white tone and can subtly soften details while adding a touch of artistry.

Ultimately, the type of paper you choose depends on the desired aesthetic effect and the nature of your artwork. Whether you want a clean and modern look or a more traditional, textured feel, there’s a giclée paper that perfectly complements your artistic vision.

Quality assurance

Finding the right giclée printing service is crucial for achieving the quality you deserve. Look for a company with a strong reputation and experience in giclée printing, evidenced by positive online reviews and testimonials. 

Don’t hesitate to inquire about their quality control procedures and whether they offer soft-proofing for previewing your print before production. Opt for a service that prioritizes open communication, allowing you to ask questions and discuss your expectations freely. 

To help you visualize the final product, requesting print samples in various paper types and finishes is highly recommended.


Maintenance and care

Once you have your giclée prints in hand, proper care is essential to ensure their longevity and vibrant colours. Store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and excessive humidity, which can accelerate fading. To further safeguard against fading, consider framing your prints with UV-protective glass or acrylic. Remember, these are delicate works of art, so handle them with care. Avoid touching the printed surface directly, and use cotton gloves if necessary, to minimize the risk of leaving fingerprints or smudges. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy giclée prints for years to come.

On-demand printing 

On-demand giclée printing empowers artists to embrace a more flexible and cost-effective approach to fulfilling print orders. Unlike traditional printing methods that require large upfront investments and storage space for pre-printed inventory, on-demand printing allows you to:

  • Print only when needed: Respond to customer demand without the burden of excess inventory. This reduces financial risks and frees up valuable studio space.
  • Simplify order fulfilment: Integrate seamlessly with popular e-commerce platforms like Etsy and Shopify. These integrations streamline the ordering process, allowing customers to purchase directly from your online store and automatically trigger printing and fulfilment through the chosen service.
  • Reduce turnaround times: Respond to customer orders quickly and efficiently. On-demand printing eliminates the need for pre-printed stock, enabling you to fulfil orders with minimal wait times and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Offer wider variety: Experiment and offer a broader range of artwork options without worrying about overstocking unpopular designs. On-demand printing empowers you to cater to diverse customer preferences and potentially expand your artistic reach.


By partnering with a reputable on-demand giclée printing service, you can streamline your workflow, minimize financial risks, and focus on what matters most – creating your art. Embrace the freedom and efficiency of on-demand printing, and let your creative vision flourish.