What Is Fine Art Printing? The Process & Options In 2022

what is fine art printing

What is fine art printing? When my creative process is finished and I have a piece of art that I am happy with, my mind turns to printing. Digital art printing allows me the only way to have a piece to hang on my wall.
When I do oil on canvas art, I have the original, but if I want to share it…a scan and a print is the way to do that. So, let’s look at the fine art printing process.
The quality and vibrancy of the final “ready to hang” art depends on a number of factors; first is image quality. Using the modern digital tools – ProCreate™ and my Apple™ pencil on my iPad™ Pro, it’s easy to produce high quality images that can be scaled to surprising size.
With oil-on-canvas works, the detail in the image depends on my steady hand and a small brush, but translating that to a print depends on the skills of the print shops I work with and their scanning technology. The oil-on-canvas works, once fully dry and varnished, are scanned on a high-resolution, flat-bed scanner and the image is stored as a digital file.
That file can then be taken into the digital printing process and edited if needed or resized. The print shop can add a border and even subtly “squeeze” the image to fit atypical size formats – but it’s better to stay with the original proportions if possible.
The real magic of digital art printing happens in the printer. These machines are large versions of the printer you would use at home, but with much higher resolution and colour control.
They can print onto a variety of media. One option is canvas, which is later stretched onto a wooden frame in the same way that a blank canvas is stretched before painting.
The output is a print that can look surprisingly like an oil-on-canvas painting, although without the evident brush strokes and paint layers. Another option is vinyl that can be used as outdoor-suitable banners. Digital printing onto metal can also make for interesting final works.
For prints, my chosen option is paper and here the choices are many. The print shops I work with use acid-free archival paper.
This paper has been produced in a way that ensures that it does not deteriorate over time. You’ve probably seen old newspapers and noticed how yellow they become.
That is because of acid that remains in the paper from the production process. In acid-free archival paper that acid is carefully removed so the paper remains stable and colour-correct forever.
Acid-free paper also makes the best matrix for the application of archival inks that are also designed for a long life without change. These inks contain pigments that are less affected by ultraviolet light, which often bleaches conventional inks, however, we still recommend keeping your prints out of direct sunlight for the longest life.
What is fine art printing when it comes to framing? The last decision, and it’s one that’s up to you, is framing. While oil-on-canvas and print-to-canvas works can be hung directly, paper prints need to be framed because, frankly, blue-tac on a wall doesn’t really cut it.
Framing can be simple or ornate, using a matboard or using a border on the print, and behind glass (or acrylic) or open. The choices there are the subject of another blog.
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Alex Mileham