Print Guide by Key West Fine Art Photography

Put your best print forward

What’s in an ink? Dyes or pigments.

Dyes are soluble organic compounds that are inexpensive to print with, but their chemical bonding can leave them vulnerable to UV degradation over time. Dyes will initially produce an incredibly vivid print, but often at the expense of the longevity of the work, with magentas and greens fading first, then quickly down through the rest of the spectrum. Prints you often see in commercial businesses, made with dye inks, are easily recognizable by their dull, monochromatic tones, faded with even minimal exposure to light elements.

Pigments are particulates from a wide range of sources and compositions that are suspended into a solution, which creates the ink. Pigmented inks bond closely to the micro ceramic coatings present in printing media, which makes them naturally more resistant than dyes to conditional degradation. The use of pigments in fine art printing helps to ensure the highest protection of the work against fading and UV damage over time.

We use better pigments.

Because we deal in Giclee printing, or reproduction of fine art for archival needs and display purposes, we sought the best quality printers and pigmented inks on the market. Thus, we chose to not only include pigmented inks, but went with Epson’s K3 HD 11-color ink set. The Wilhelm Imaging Research body, the leading authority on print permanence, found that Epson’s latest HD inks, can last upwards of 100 years.

Select your surface:

  • Photo Papers

    Choose from Glossy, Lustre/Satin, Metallic, and Canson/Arches Infinity Baryta Prestige.

    ● Traditional Glossy and Luster/Satin papers are each 300gsm and considered archival quality.
    ● Metallic paper is high gloss, 255gsm, and provides a highly-reflective and optically dense surface that mimics the effects of traditional silver halide printing.
    ● Canson/Arches Infinity Baryta Prestige is an acid-free, 340gsm cotton paper that contains a barium sulfate coating, which looks and feels like traditional darkroom papers.

    Both metallic and Baryta papers provide the highest degree of optical density and clarity, perfect for HD and black and white photography.

  • Fine Art Papers

    A standard for fine art printing, MOAB Entrada fine art paper is 100% cotton, acid free, 300gsm, and provides a smooth, bright surface for reproduction. Entrada paper contains archival-safe optical brighteners for increased reflectivity and brightness, while protecting against conditional degradation and yellowing over time.

  • Premium Fine Art Paper

    Premium fine art papers we stock include Canson/Arches Watercolor and Hahnemuehle Bamboo papers.

    Canson/Arches Watercolor is a heavy 300 gsm 100% cotton rag paper, featuring a mold-resistant treatment for excellent conservation qualities, as well as gelatin sizing to the core of the product for elevated strength and lustre.

    With eco-friendly fibers and a slightly more natural looking appearance, Hahnemuehle Bamboo, at 265 gsm, uses bamboo as a foundation for strength and absorption without tearing.

    Both of these papers are mould-made, or created using a Fourdrinier technique, which simulates the high quality and strength of traditional hand-made papers. They’re also acid-free, archival quality, and do not include optical brighteners, which ensures the greatest longevity of the finished product.

  • Canvas

    We print on a Simply Elegant Matte 418 gsm, neutral pH, poly/cotton blended canvas that is archival, acid-free, and water-resistant. To protect from UV damage and abrasion, as well as enhance the color of your print on the matte canvas, we spray the finished product with Lexjet’s Sunset Gloss coating.

  • Gallery Wrapped Canvas Giclee

    Have your printed canvas gallery wrapped to create a piece that can be hung with or without additional framing. Edge widths are available in ½, ¾, 1, 1 ½, and 2 inch sizes.

    Choose stretcher bars that are either ½ or ¾ inches for works that will have no printing along the edges or will also include framing. For works stretched on 1, 1 ½, or 2 inch profiles, a solid color, mirrored image, or “content aware” print continues along the edge.

    Mirrored image printing on stretched canvas reflects the perimeter of the front of the work onto the edges, whereas “content aware” printing creates the appearance of continuity of the piece
    across the edge.

  • Metal

    We print using a direct, or aqueous, printing process on Allure’s Breathing Color aluminum fine art panels. In contrast to the alternative, a heat-transfer method referred to as dye sublimation, aqueous prints offer the best resolution, white brightness, and fade resistance available on the market.

    The elevated resolution in Aqueous prints is afforded by a higher dpi ratio than in dye sublimation, because each dot is printed directly onto the aluminum surface instead of being captured onto a heat transfer. White point is also retained as closely to the original as possible by removing the transfer, which can sometimes be altered during the heating process.

    To finish your print on metal and create a ready-to-hang work of art, we laminate it with a high gloss Drytac laminate and follow up with a mounted backing. The Drytec high performance laminate provides protection from UV rays, as well as scratching and abrasion, and it enhances the overall contrast and depth of color in the work.

Tips from the Pros:

When it comes to selecting the right surface for printing, there are no hard fast rules on what you should or shouldn’t do. But since we have a little experience in this realm, here are a few guidelines to take into consideration if you’re new to the game:
● For higher optical density, true-to-life coloration, and a smooth surface appearance, consider printing photographic works on either photo papers or metal.
● Prints made on metal offer enhanced depth and detail that aren’t as apparent as when they’re created on traditional substrates, like paper and canvas.
● Fine art reproductions from watercolors, illustrations, and paintings not produced on canvas look best on fine art papers. Though canvas is also appropriate, the texture of the material may distract from content in a piece produced on a smoother surface.
● If the work was created on canvas, consider printing on canvas to replicate the tone and texture created in the original. You can also opt to have us leave the canvas uncoated, so you can later add layers of paint, gel, or varnish yourself.

Don’t see a surface you want to print on? We utilize ColorByte ImagePrint Raster Image Processors, or RIP technologies, a standard in optimizing printing for commercial and fine art purposes. Colorbyte’s Imageprint software helps us make the highest quality print available, regardless of the surface. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll give you exactly what you’re looking for. 

Contact Us