To be able to create and sell an archival quality print, you must make sure all elements are archival quality. This includes:
- The paper you print on, which should be pH neutral.
- The ink used to print the image; most giclée printmakers recommend pigment inks.
- Any tape, glue, mounts or storage containers that come into contact with the print should be acid free.
For more in depth information on archival quality prints, click here to read eInnovation News: What does ‘Archival Quality’ Mean?
MK, MB, PK and MB refer to the photo black ink cartridges in fine art and photographic inkjet printers. Some printer models will allow you to change these manually; on others the type of black ink is linked to the media setting you choose and is therefore set automatically by the printer.
‘K’ actually stands for key; this comes from the four colour CMYK colour space – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black). When referring to MK or PK ink, the ‘M’ stands for Matte Key and the ‘P’ stands for Photo Key. So PK stands for Photo Black and MK stands for Matte Black.
MB and PB are simply alternatives to using MK or PK. ‘B’ simply stands for Black, therefore: PB stands for Photo Black and MB stands for Matte Black.
These abbreviations are most commonly found in file names, such as ICC profiles (where number of characters can be limited). They may also be found within printer descriptions to indicate the colours and number of cartridges of a specific model.
The type of black ink needed to print on an inkjet fine art or photographic paper is usually dictated by the surface finish. For example gloss finishes usually require photo black ink whereas matte finishes usually require matte black ink. If you are unsure of what type of black ink is required for printing, you can always contact the paper supplier to confirm.
RC stands for Resin Coated, a type of paper base material. During manufacturing resin coated papers are sealed with two polyethylene layers (front and back) making them impenetrable to liquids and resistant to curling. This polyethylene layer is then coated with inkjet receptive technology, enabling you to print onto the surface.
OBA or OBAs, stands for Optical Brightening Agents, they are chemical compounds added to the coating of some papers.They are used to enhance the appearance of colour, whitening the paper by increasing the amount of blue light reflected and, as a result, offsetting the natural yellow tones. Different papers contain different levels of OBAs, you can see if a paper contains optical brightening agents by placing a sheet under a UV light, if it lights up with purple colouring then it contains OBAs, the brighter the purple light, the more OBAs in the paper.
Crystal Layer Technology is a feature of our FibaPrint® range, it creates a barrier between the fibre base and and the microporous top coating an has revolutionised the production of digital equivalents for darkroom papers. Due to this technology all our FibaPrint® papers are able to maintain sharp details, reproduce an enhanced tonal range and maintain an excellent D-max rating.
Cotton has a long standing tradition of being used in paper, as this anonymous 18th century poems demonstrates:
Rags Make Paper
Paper Makes Money
Money Makes Banks
Banks Make Loans
Loans Make Beggars
Beggars Make Rags
Today you can still find ‘rags’ from old clothing in recycled papers, however, for digital fine art printing we source only the highest quality cotton linters. These are short fibres found in cotton seeds, and also contain cellulose (found in wood pulp), this gives stability to the final sheet of paper but, due to the cotton source, produces a much softer feel on the surface when compared to 100% alpha cellulose papers. It also has better strength and durability than wood pulp papers.
Cotton also has great archival qualities, it is said that for each percentage point of cotton contained in a paper that represents one year of resisting deterioration through use. For example a 25% cotton paper could be handle and referred to for 25 years without showing signs of deterioration.
Alpha cellulose paper is made from wood pulp. Alpha Cellulose is the building blocks of wood pulp; it is made up of multiple sugar molecules bonded together to form a chain. During the paper manufacturing process this chain is broken down, refined to remove undesirable elements (such as lignin) and then reformed to give strength to the finished sheet of paper. To create different finishes within the paper surface, occasionally Alpha Cellulose fibres are combined with other materials, such as cotton linters.
There are many different types of alpha cellulose paper available for creating inkjet fine art and photo prints. Click here to see the range of alpha cellulose papers available from Innova Art
Acid free usually refers to the sizing used in the manufacturing process. Chalk (calcium carbonate) is added to the mixture to counteract the acidity in the natural material. The chalk in the mix produces a stable alkali setting in the finished paper, giving a neutral pH value and a longer lifespan to your prints. All Innova Fine Art and FibaPrint® Papers are acid free.
Lignin is a substance contained in wood that provides additional stiffening of the fibres. When used in paper production lignin makes the finished sheet turn yellow quickly. This is a very undesirable quality in fine art papers and as a result it is separated out of the wood pulp during the cellulose extraction process. All Innova Fine Art and FibaPrint® Papers are lignin free.
Giclée comes from the french word meaning literally ‘to squirt’ referring to the process in which the ink is laid down on the paper.The print heads of a printer spray a pattern of very small dots to make up the final image. Giclée is the name comonly given to an inkjet limited edition reproduction of an artwork, photograph or digitally created artwork. Giclée prints are produced on archival grade artist’s quality inkjet coated paper using UV stable pigment inks.
ICC profiles were developed by the International Color Consortium as a way to standardise colour reproduction in digital environments, across multiple devices and operating systems.In print terms an ICC Profile is essentially a set of data that tells the printer what colour the paper is and how much ink to put down for that particular surface texture. It will ensure you get the most accurate colour match on our paper in a large production environment.
Remember: As each Innova Art paper is slightly different in base colour and surface texture you will need to download an ICC profile for each paper you plan to use on your printer, generic ICC profiles for selected printer models can be downloaded from this site.
To print your files and maintain their original quality it is advisable to save them to a .tiff format.This format is larger than the commonly used .jpg file format but it will not compress the contents as much and therefore preserves it as intended by the artist. The standard resolution fro a print file is 300dpi.
If you are intending to use your work on a website or to email files to selected clients or galleries then it is advisable to save a .jpg copy, this should have a resolution of 72dpi to ensure it is small enough for email servers to send and receive. You can also email and post images on the web in .gif or .png format but this is only advisable for certain image types as these can distort some colours and edges in photographic work.
Other common file formats are .psd, .pdf and .ai or .eps, these refer to the program that created the original file (Photoshop, Acrobat or Illustrator). Some professional printers will be able to work with these files but you will need to check that your intended recipient has the software before you send it. It is also worth noting that the older versions of these programs cannot open files created in the newer versions. If the person you are sending you file to has an earlier version of the application, you will need to save a copy of your file in a legacy format (compatible with earlier versions) so they can open it. Adobe Reader can also open .pdf documents and is available for free download, however you will not have access to all the tools available in Adobe Acrobat.
With the increased quality of camera and scanning technology now available, artist copyright and authenticity of a print are becoming an ever-important issue. Therefore when you are creating a limited edition print run it is advisable to hand sign and date the edition. Using a Hologram system will give you added security. There are selected companies who supply these hologram sets and certificates. A set is comprised of 2 holograms per pint in the edition, one for the back of the print and the other for the certificate of authenticity. Each pair of holograms will have the same alphanumeric value and this can be registered with the company supplying them, enabling artists and buyers to certify that their prints are genuine.
The type of ink, printer setting and base colour of the paper will all effect the results of the final print. When looking on a screen you are also seeing a backlit colour. The only accurate way to avoid this is to work with colour profiles created specifically for your monitor and printer. A way to minimise this is to work with generic profiles supplied by paper manufacturers, profiles for Innova Art papers on selected printer models are available from this site.