Having Prints Made?

REPAIRING DAMAGED DRAWING PAPER

My friend Mary Ellen wrote to ask:

I am thinking about trying to get the graphite barn picture I did printed. Can you give me an idea what I should look for and ask from the printer? I have never had a print made so your advice would be invaluable to me.

I see your chosen printer has a Cruse scanner – the best flat-bed scanner many thousands of dollars can buy. My friend Dave in the UK giclée printing business (www.dace-digital.com) says he finds it to be too good – it picks up the texture of the paper, for example, when that might be a distraction. Personally, I always have my work drum laser scanned – the results are superb!

Are you doing this online or by personal visit? It’s worth pointing out to them, which area is supposed to be read as white. If you don’t, they might not set the white balance point, and all your whites will contain a proportion of tone. I had that happen once. Compare the original to the print and the latter looks as though a maverick cloud has obscured the sun.

If you’re giclée printing, suggest that they desaturate the image or print using only blacks and greys. What you don’t want is the use of colours to create the greys, because you stand the risk of metamerism, which is an overall colour-cast that varies under different lights.

If you will be offset-litho printing, suggest they use the Duotone process (uses two of the colour plates of the 4-plate colour system) and print using a black and a warm grey.

Choose a decent weight of paper and one that is at least as white as your original. If it’s whiter, that’s OK, because it will simply increase the contrast in the piece.

I’m sure they’ll offer a proof, or a selection of proofs for you to choose from. Don’t necessarily choose the one that is closest to the original – this is a print, so compromise and choose the one that is the most likely to appeal to buyers. Boosting the contrast can help in that respect, hence my advice to choose a whiter paper. The print will be a true reflection of your original but with a subtle contrast shift that helps to catch the eye of potential purchasers – especially useful in a gallery situation.

Talking of galleries: they have tendency to mat graphite works in black. In my opinion that kills them stone dead. Instead, double-mat – use an off-white main mat (it will increase the intensity of the white of your paper) and pick a secondary “colour” from the piece for the rear mat reveal. You could, for example, use green from the leaves or a brown from the timber. Incidentally, browns work well for matting originals, because they bring out the subtle warmth of the clay in the graphite mix.

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