Image credit: Michelle Drougas (artist)
Art reproduction is a little bit more involved than simply “getting prints made of artwork”. Not to be cryptic, but there is a process and an art to it.
Even if you were to say it’s the process of professionally digitising your work and producing prints, you’d still be simplifying things.
And just to add another layer of complexity, different printing services will have a different approach to reproducing art.
The crux of it is the same, at least it should be among those of us who specialise in fine art reproduction. It’s more the little details, the tools, method and expertise that will set different printers apart.
So, what is the art reproduction process then?
At Cie-Elle, we have four steps:
- Digitise artwork through high resolution scanning
- Image adjustments and file preparation
- Colour matching and artwork proofing
- Production of fine art prints
Because we are just slightly obsessed with detail, we’re going to run through each of these steps to explain exactly what you can expect.
Step 1: Digitise your artwork
If you’ve already done a little research you’re probably aware there are two main methods of digitising artwork professionally. Photography or scanning.
Printing services will specialise in one or the other, and it’s a quite a heated debate as to which is the superior method.
However, we can confidently say in almost every instance, high resolution scanning is the preferred method and offers the optimal results. Of course, this is the method we use – but let us briefly explain why.
Our large format flatbed scanner offers the most advanced scanning technology available in Australia. We capture artworks at over 800 megapixels and in a 1:1 scale (meaning we scan at the same size as the original artwork). In essence, this means the entire scanned artwork is in perfectly sharp focus, with brilliant lighting and extremely high colour accuracy. Snap!
Getting the perfect artwork capture (scan) is the crucial first step in being able to deliver the perfect print. A print that looks so good, you almost can’t tell it apart from the original, even when side by side. If the digital capture falls short, so will your final print.
So, what actually happens at this first step?
For us, you can either make an appointment and bring your artwork in, or post it to us if you can’t get to Sydney.
We can do an on-the-spot scan if you don’t want to leave the artwork with us, or you can pop back and pick up when the files are ready.
If you are completing the whole fine art reproduction process (scanning right through to printing), then it is preferable to leave the artwork with us. That way, when we are adjusting and matching colours (step 3 below), we have a direct reference.
Step 2: Image adjustments and file preparation
Once we have the high-resolution scanned file, we can apply colour targets, remove any damage, tidy up backgrounds, remove or add signatures and size for editions.
Step 3: Colour matching and artwork proofing
We’re getting into the nitty gritty now.
Here we’ll work on the scanned file, tuning and tweaking the colours until we get as close as possible to the original colours. If you’ve heard the term ICC profiles, this is where these come into play. We use only the best scanning targets, software and monitors.
There are three levels of colour adjustments to choose from – basic, standard or full colour correction.
The option you choose may depend on your budget and also what you need the file for.
If you want to produce high quality prints from the files then we usually recommend the more in-depth options. However, if you only need the file for a gallery submission or to use online (for a website etc) then the basic option will likely suffice.
It’s at this step we also produce test strips and match to the original artwork. These are produced on the paper/stock you’ve chosen for the prints.
So guess what?
There should be no surprises – the colours and finish you see on the test strips will match the final prints you receive from us.
Step 4: Producing the fine art prints
For the prints to be classified as fine art prints, they will need to be produced on acid-free archival quality paper.
We have quite a few options to choose from – check out our paper stock guide.
You can still achieve a high-quality print from us on lower end paper (which is a more budget friendly option). Even without a ‘fine art paper’ choice, you still benefit from the high-resolution digital capture, and our premium printers and pigment-based inks. The paper however, will not be as durable and long-lasting as the archival fine art papers.
When it comes to fine art reproduction – yes, we are! It’s our jam. Our main game. You can do bits and pieces (just scanning or just the prints) if you don’t need or want the whole process. But the whole shebang is our specialty.
And importantly, we do it all in-house. There’s no shipping off artworks to different locations for different parts of the process. If you’re shopping around and comparing services make sure you ask this question. Some may offer the complete package but it doesn’t happen all under one roof.
How to get reproductions that look exactly like the original?
Now you know there are several boxes to tick to get that amazing print.
Print quality (and experience) can vary greatly between printing services. So do your research, visit printers, ask to see samples and examples of work. Don’t be shy. Seek the best.