Digital Fine Art Pigment Prints Available

Archival-quality reproductions of the watercolor paintings of C.H. Moor are now available upon request. The prints are created using Epson DURABrite Ultra pigmented inks on an archival-quality heavyweight matte finish paper. When displayed framed under glass, the prints will resist fading for generations! Your satisfaction is guaranteed or you may return the prints for a refund of your purchase price (less shipping). Please browse the gallery and if you would like to order a print, simply send an inquiry.

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The Quality of Digital Pigmented Prints

Below is a comparison of three art prints. I scanned 3 prints at 1200 dpi and am showing you a 175 pixel square section of the resulting scan. By scanning at 1200 dpi, and displaying the result at a 1:1 pixel ratio, you get a close-up view of the printed surface of each print. As you can see from the samples, modern inkjet technology has come a long way!

Close-up of lithographic print

Traditional Offset Lithography: The close-up to the left is a 1200 DPI scan of a high-quality reproduction of a Thomas Eakins painting, reproduced on a museum postcard. The postcard was printed using the traditional lithographic process using CMYK inks on an offset press. You are seeing the actual 1:1 pixel ratio of the scanned image that represents just a small piece of the sky in the painting. This allows you to see the actual CMYK dots that make up the image. Under normal viewing conditions, the naked eye cannot see the dots, but rather sees what appears to be full-color.

Close-up of a print done on an Epson CX7800 Epson Stylus CX7800 Inkjet Print: This close-up scan is of a fine art print created on an Epson Stylus CX7800 which uses DURABright Ultra Pigmented Inks. This is also a CMYK printer, but produces much smaller dots than are produced with the lithographic process shown above in the first sample. Because the ink is pigmented, rather than a dye-based ink, prints created on this printer will typically last for generations. The prints I'm offering through this site are printed on this printer.
close-up of a print done on an Epson R800 Epson Stylus Photo R800 Inkjet Print: Like the other two, this is also a 1200 DPI scan of an actual print which I'm showing here at a 1:1 pixel ratio for comparison. The print was created on an Epson Stylus Photo R800 which uses Epson's UltraChrome Hi-Gloss pigmented ink set. In this case, the R800 uses 8 ink cartridges (7 colors plus a "gloss optimizer"), and produces even smaller ink droplets than the CX7800.

Is it a giclee print, a pigmented print, or a digital print?

If you have more questions about fine art prints than answers, you are not alone. Since the technology has advanced to the point where artists and galleries can make their own one-off prints, nobody seems to agree on the terminology and there are no real hard and fast guidelines. A few of the questions you may have are...

While there really aren't any standards guided by any governing body, I will attempt to answer these questions by providing a candid explanation of the terms used in the industry of art prints today, as I understand them. Who am I to feel I have the answers? While I can't claim to be the best expert out there by a long shot, I do have a lot of experience in the graphic design and printing industry and a strong interest in fine art prints that has led me to read a fair bit on the topic.

A search on the word in Google as I write this yields about 6,570,000 results. If I narrow the search by adding the word "print", I still get 2,030,000 pages in the search results. Obviously it's a popular word.

So what is a giclee print? Make no mistake about it, a giclee print is an inkjet print - case closed. Well, not quite closed. All giclees are definitely inkjet prints, but not the other way around. As I said, there does not seem to be any definitive rules, so the giclee market is like the wild west in that way - rather lawless. But the web sites and articles that do fess up and mention the word "inkjet" in their explanation, do all seem to agree that to be called a giclee, an inkjet print must be archival in nature -- which means attention must be paid to the longevity of the print.

Three factors -- the printer, the inks, and the paper

The printer

Believe it or not, in my humble opinion, the actual printer used to make a fine art print is the least important of the three factors mentioned above. It's mostly about the choice of inks and papers. So the choice of what printer to use is mostly about what types of ink and paper the printer will use or accept. All giclee prints are made on inkjet printers - yes, even the old but legendary Iris 3047 was an inkjet printer. Since the print resolution of all modern inkjet printers has gotten to the point where it far exceeds the clarity of traditional offset lithography, I contend that the resolution of any particular inkjet printer is not much of a factor. Put a standard 8x magnifying loupe on any inkjet print these days and you'll barely be able to see the dots making up the print. Then put the loupe on any print created with traditional line screen methods on an offset press, and you will have no trouble seeing the rows of CMYK dots. Of course, the printer, the inks, and the paper are all working together, so the printer choice is important because of the following important factors:

So the brand and model of printer used to make a giclee is important in that it will determine the quality of the inks and paper that can be used.

The ink set

The type of inks used is a very important factor in the making of an archival-quality inkjet print. To be called a giclee, an inkjet print should be made to last - meaning it should resist fading. The best way to achieve this is by using pigmented inks. So something most experts agree on these days is that giclees are created with pigmented inks as opposed to dye-based inks. Epson has been the industry leader for quite some time now in this area. They offer many printers that utilize pigmented inks and currently they market three different pigmented ink sets -- UltraChrome Hi-Gloss®, UltraChrome K3™, and DURABrite Ultra®. The number of inks used is also a factor in print quality, but not nearly as important as the type of ink. I have created prints with both the UltraChrome Hi-Gloss ink set (7 colors) and the DURABrite Ultra ink set (4 colors - CMYK), and it is hard to distinguish the two prints with the naked eye!

The paper

The last of the three factors is as important or nearly as important as the inks - the paper used to print on. This is where the industry goes wild -- there are many, many types and brands of paper to choose from for making fine art prints. I will not attempt to cover all of the possible variations here, but will instead focus on the most important factor. The most important thing about paper for fine art print making is that is should be archival. To be an archival paper, it should be acid-free. A paper that isn't acid-free may make for a perfectly nice looking print, but the paper itself will very likely "yellow" with age if it is not acid free. Using a pigmented ink set on non-acid-free paper therefore, will result in a print that resists fading, but will not resist yellowing. The only other factor worth considering might be thickness. It would seem obvious that a thicker paper will hold up better over time than a thin paper - but even a high quality acid-free thin paper when cared for properly will last for generations. Beyond these factors, it's more about personal choice - likes and dislikes. For instance, paper comes in textured or smooth surfaces. Some papers are whiter than others. This is personal preference and I tend to favor using a more natural white paper for reproducing watercolor art on since most watercolor paper is natural white. But watercolor paper comes in both textured and smooth finishes, so either works when reproducing watercolor art.

Summary

So with nearly infinite permutations of printers, ink sets, and papers on the market -- it is image quality, print permanence, and personal choice that matter in the end. If you want a quality print that will last for generations, be sure it is created with pigmented inks on archival paper -- the rest is personal choice.

Below are a couple great resources for learning more about the longevity of particular printer/ink/paper combinations...

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