When it comes to professionally printing your photographs there are numerous options to choose from, often turning what should be a rewarding process into a challenging one. Selecting the correct paper stock and print process can have a spectacular effect on the finished artwork. However, printing with papers that aren't attuned to your style of work can often leave you disappointed and not mention out of pocket! Like any art, the results are subjective, but there are certain guidelines you can follow to get you on your way!
The big consideration for most is Giclée or C-Type printing, and rightly so, as this determines the paper types you can choose, and ultimately the finished result. Below are some handy tips from our print partner, theprintspace to help you navigate these two printing techniques.
Digital C-type printing is where a printing machine exposes light-sensitive photographic paper using a digitally controlled light source. At theprintspace we use the Chromira printer, the latest generation and universally accepted as the highest quality digital C-type printer. This produces a true photographic print from a digital file.
Giclée is ink-jet printing, a dry process whereby ink is sprayed directly onto a paper in a series of dots.
The most commonly used process by photographers is C-type, with illustrators and graphic artists tending to favour Giclée prints.
C-type prints are continuous tone, meaning they can produce subtle colour gradients, shadow detail and a 3-dimensional photographic feel that a Giclée would find hard to match. However, Giclée photographic prints can surpass what can be achieved with C-type in terms of colour gamut, which really helps if the image has strong saturated colours. There is also a much wider range of papers from highly textured to uncoated, that are not available for the C-type process.
In terms of C-types, there are 4 popular papers.
Fuji Matt: Great versatile paper that works well with all photographic images. It is coated with a slightly stippled texture to give a very natural photographic finish with subtle colour. Our most popular choice.
Fuji Gloss: The gloss finish accentuates the colour to give a punchy rich feel. Compared to the Matt, it gives the image more contrast, glossiness and pronounced colour, whilst maintaining accurate reproduction.
Fuji Flex: This ultra-high gloss paper has a plastic feel with a warm base colour, producing luxurious rich colours as well as deep blacks and high visual contrast.
Kodak Metallic: Has a rich metallic base giving the colours a reflective 3-dimensional feel. High mid-tones and highlights add luminosity and iridescence.
With Giclée printing there is a much greater range of paperweight, surface texture and paperwhites. Papers range from bright white to a creamy yellow tone, and there are those that are very smooth matt papers to ones that are highly textured. This allows the photographer or artist a greater choice in what paper suits their image.
As a general rule for C-type prints, choose matt or semi-matt for black & white and gloss for colour. For those wishing to recreate rich black and whites or saturated colour, go for a Giclée. Our insider tip for photographers looking to print on Giclée is the Hahnemühle Pearl for colour images and Hahnemühle Photo Rag for black and white.
Test strips are a great way to see how your final print will turn out and to test colour and lighting adjustments. At theprintspace our next day delivery outside London, and our print studio in London or same day delivery in London allows test strips to be made swiftly and for the learnings to be fed back into the production process. Find out more about creating test.
The best way to really see the differences in photo and art paper options is to order one of our great value paper sample packs. Priced at £5, each pack contains the full range of 11 professional Fine Art Giclée and C-type papers. Order yours today.
C-Type's last up to 40 years in daylight and 80 years incorrect dark storage conditions. Giclée's last up to 40 years in daylight and 200 years in the dark.
When it comes to the archival quality of the two print types, both stand the test of time.
Please get in touch for further advice. We are happy to help and guide you through the printing process, whatever stage you are at. We love helping people get the very best from their printing.