Giclée is the use of the ink-jet printing process for making fine art large format digital images. The term — from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt, to spray” — first applied to IRIS prints created in the early 1990s on the Scitex Iris Model Four color drum piezo-head inkjet proofer, a commercial printer designed to preview what a print will look like before mass production begins. Giclée prints are often mistakenly referred to as IRIS Giclée prints, however, the only IRIS Giclée prints are Giclée prints printed from IRIS printers.The process of making a Giclée, starts with a generated image from a high resolution digital scan and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. This process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction. Giclée prints are typically created by using professional 8-Color to 12-Color ink-jet printers. These modern, high technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. In this step, a fine stream of ink (more than four million droplets per second) is sprayed onto archival art paper or canvas. Each piece of paper or canvas is carefully hand mounted onto a drum which rotates during printing. Exact calculation of hue, value, and density direct the ink from four nozzles. This produces a combination of 512 chromatic changes (with over three million colors possible) of highly saturated, non-toxic water-based ink. Since no screens are used in Giclée printing, the prints have a higher resolution than lithographs and the dynamic color range is greater than serigraphs. The quality of the Giclée print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.Giclée prints are advantageous to artists who do not find it feasible to mass produce their work, but want to reproduce their art as needed, or on-demand. Once an image is digitally archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and reasonable cost. The prohibitive up-front cost of mass production for an edition is eliminated. Archived files will not deteriorate in quality as negatives and film inherently do. Another tremendous advantage of Giclée printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various media, giving the artist the ability to customize prints for a specific client.

The Language of Giclée…

Digital Images This type of image is produced electronically using digital cameras, scanners, and software programs. The images are files that can be displayed from a computer monitor, printed on paper or stored as a file on media such as CD-ROMs.
Gelatin It is used to hold silver halide crystals in an emulsion in virtually all photographic films and photographic papers. Despite some efforts, no suitable substitutes with the stability and low cost of gelatin have been found.
Giclée (Fr. “Fine Spray”; pron. zhee-clay) A computer generated print that is produced by the spraying of an image on to fine art paper.
Ink Jet Printing Creates a desired image on paper by squirting droplets of liquid inks under pressure from a print head containing one or more nozzles. The printer’s resolutions (often expressed as dots per inch, or DPI) is dependent upon a number of factors, such as the number of nozzles; the frequency of ink droplets; the placement of the droplets; and the qualities of the paper used for printing.
IRIS Prints Was the creator of Giclée, IRIS refers to the brand name of the printer.
Silver Halide Silver halides are used in photographic film and photographic paper where an emulsion of silver halide crystals in gelatin is coated on to a film base, glass or paper substrate. The gelatin is a vital part of the emulsion as it contains trace elements which increase the light sensitivity of the emulsion. Silver bromide and silver chloride may be used separately or combined, depending on the sensitivity and tonal qualities desired in the product.