When it comes to printing your artwork we know that quality is at the heart of your choice. Like many aspects of art, the selection of the perfect paper is subjective. What do all the paper variations mean and how do they differ? Today we’re exploring our range of different paper types, their characteristics and benefits, to help you decide the best paper for your artwork to ensure it always looks its best.
First, it’s important to decide which printing method you will use. Each printing type has its own paper requirements.
C-type, short for Chromogenic Type, is a chemical process using silver halide that reacts to light to create a colour image. Originally used to print photographs from colour negatives, technical advances now enable prints to be made directly from digital files by exposing silver halide papers through specialised lasers.
Due to the nature of this printing style, C-type prints require paper that has been treated with silver halide. We strive for the highest quality, so it should be no surprise that we use paper from the top names in the business: Fuji and Kodak. These papers are known for their durability and come in a variety of weights, finishes, and sizes. (More on those later)
Giclée, from the French word for spray, is a dry, halftone printing technique. This means that prints are produced by firing tiny droplets of ink, known as half-tone patterns, onto specially coated archival paper to build colour. Archival, or museum-grade, refers to acid-free, durable papers made from cotton rag or wood-based pulp. These papers can have +200 year lifespan if optimally stored.
For Giclee prints, we turn to one of the oldest paper manufacturers in Germany: Hahnemühle. First established in 1584, Hahnemühle continues to produce some of the best quality paper in the market. Alongside their unparalleled quality, Hahnemühle papers feel fantastic, hold ink even better and are available in a variety of weights, textures and finishes.
Paper weight, or thickness, is measured in gsm, or grams per square meter. For example, a standard piece of A4 paper you would find at home or in your office weighs approximately 60 – 100 gms, and a poster or flyer is typically 110 – 140gsm. Heavier papers provide a more substantial and rigid surface for printing. These heavier papers are usually preferred by artists and professional photographers for mounted work or framed pieces. We use only the highest-quality papers from the world’s leading manufacturers. All of our archival grade papers weigh a minimum of 230 gsm and go up to 350 gsm.
Tone / Whiteness
Tone or whiteness refers to the colour of your paper. These can be broken down into three categories: warm, natural, and bright white. Warm whites, as the name implies tend to be warmer, with shades of yellow and cream, and are preferred for portraits and softer images Bright whites are on the cooler side of the colour spectrum with shades of blue. This tends to create brighter, sharper images, usually preferred by photographers. Natural white paper lies somewhere in between with varying combinations of warm and cool tones that display good contrast and rich colours.
Texture refers to the makeup and feel of the paper. This, again, comes down to personal preference, and the finished result you’re looking for. Textured papers can bring visual interest to your piece and give prints a tangible quality. But it’s important to consider how your print will be displayed. Smooth textured papers allow for sharper detail and contrast, and may look better when displayed behind glass.
The finish of a print is exactly what it sounds like. Will the finished print has a shiny gloss to it, will be matte, or somewhere in between. Like many aspects of paper selection, this too really comes back to personal preference, and the results you are looking to achieve in your printed work. Let’s break down these definitions a bit more:
Matt or Matte papers have no gloss or sheen at all. None. Not even a little. Whatever angle you look at it from, matte paper will never show any optical glare. Although they display a low contrast range under direct light, they perform fantastically under diffused light, with luxuriously deep colours.
Pearl/Satin/Luster/Sheen/Slight Sheen Paper
These papers sit happily between matte and gloss. To create this effect, the shiny surface of the paper has been stippled to diffuse the shiny gloss surface and to reduce marks or fingerprints when handling.
Gloss refers to shiny, smooth-surfaced paper. As soon as you pick up a glossy print you will quickly see highlights and glare. When positioned in the right light that doesn’t produce glare, these prints have the highest contrast range under many light sources.
High Gloss Paper
High gloss is the shiniest of the shiny. High gloss papers have a mirror-like surface that allows for extremely sharp detail. These prints can be tricky to handle and easily acquire fingerprints.
Choosing the size of print depends on your final paper selection. As for many of these factors, size is a matter of personal preference. At Beyond Print we are proud to be able to offer Giclee prints in sizes up to 64” and C-type prints up to 72”.
We know there are a lot of considerations to make when choosing the perfect paper for your artwork, that’s why we’re here to help! If you require any help or guidance along the way, our team of experts is on hand to answer any questions. Day or night, our team of experts is on hand to answer any questions. You can reach us by phone, live chat, or pop into our Hackney-based studio to meet the team to discuss your needs.