In order to get the best results for your Giclee prints, you need a printer that is capable of handling the high resolution and fine details required for this type of printing.
My pick for the best printer for Giclee printing
There are so many brands and printer models out there and with all these articles telling you which one is the best for this or the best for that it can get a bit confusing and overwhelming.
Off the bat, I’m using the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Professional Photographic Inkjet Printer, 17 x 22-Inches for Giclee printing because it ticks all my boxes as an artist who also sells prints of their own art.
My experience with this printer:
- I can print large enough prints at 16.5 x 23.4 inches (A2) ✔
- It can print on fine art paper, glossy or matte paper & canvas paper up to 350gsm safely via the rear feeder ✔
- 12 x Pigment based ink : MBK / PBK / C / M / Y / PC / PM / GY / PGY / R / B / CO ✔
- 2,400 x 1,200 DPI ✔
- Uses LUCIA PRO inks which offer excellent fade resistance over time ✔
- Free print studio plugin integrates with lots of commonly used graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom ✔
- Wireless so no need to worry about cables everywhere ✔
- Prints off Tiff files ✔
- I have found some aftermarket inks on Amazon which I have listed below but some brands will void warranty if aftermarket inks damage the nozzles ✔
Other printers that are good for creating giclee prints
There are other brands and models you should be aware of when considering the best printers for giclee prints.
Before we look at these models we should look at what features you need to look for, and the cost for replacement inks (as these will be your biggest expense over the life of the printer), and the size of giclee prints you can make.
What I recommend for the best printing quality, reliability, and affordability for giclee prints at home consider these factors.
Let’s have a look at each of these factors in a little more detail.
Features to look for in a printer for giclee printing
- Print quality: This is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing a printer for giclee printing. Look for a printer with at least 2400×1200 DPI (dots per inch) resolution. The higher the DPI, the better the print quality will be.
- Ink type: You’ll want to use pigment-based inks rather than dye-based inks for giclee printing. Pigment-based inks are more lightfast and have better color stability than dye-based inks.
- Input/output options: Giclee prints are best made on archival quality paper or canvas, so you’ll want to make sure your printer can handle these types of media.
- Speed: If you plan on doing a lot of giclee printing, you’ll want to choose a printer that can print quickly.
- Cost: Giclee printing can be a bit pricey, so you’ll want to make sure you choose a printer that is cost-effective. Look for a printer with low ink costs and/or high yield cartridges.
- Size: If you plan on making large giclee prints, you’ll need a printer that can accommodate them. Anything larger than 24 inches will require a large format printer that will be as large as a desk.
- Replacement inks: When choosing a printer for giclee printing, keep in mind that replacement inks can be expensive. Choose a printer that uses less ink or has lower cost replacement inks available. The best giclee printers for at home artists are those that are quick, cost-effective, and can accommodate large prints. When choosing a printer, keep in mind that replacement inks can be expensive, so choose a printer that uses less ink or has lower-cost replacement inks available.
Lastly with Giclee printing you are going to burn through a lot of ink so be mindful of this when deciding on a giclee printer.
Pigment Based or Dye Based cartridges?
For Giclee printing there is only one real option when it comes to what type of ink you will use to print and that is pigment based ink.
As Giclee prints are meant to be of archival quality. You will need ink that will provide not only vibrant colors but longevity.
Dye-based inks are mostly alcohol based inks which means the dye is suspended in a liquid. They are also much cheaper than pigment based inks.
Pigment-based inks are generally in powder form and are more resistant to fading over time.
While alcohol inks tend to be more vibrant in colors they will actually evaporate over time and this means your prints will too by way of fading.
It is best to use pigment-based inks with giclee printing as they have a lifespan of around 70-120 years. This ensures that your prints will last a lot longer.
Dye-based inks are cheaper but they don’t have the same longevity as pigment inks. They also tend to bleed more when used on absorbent surfaces such as paper.
If you want to save some money, then you could use dye-based inks, but be warned that your prints might not last as long.
My pick – is pigment-based ink.
How much does it cost to replace inks in a giclee printer?
Ink costs for giclee printers can vary greatly depending on the brand of giclee printer you have. Generally speaking, pigment-based inks are more expensive than dye-based inks.
Dye-based inks can cost as little as $10 per cartridge, while pigment-based inks can cost upwards of $30 to $50 per cartridge or $400 for a set of 12.
Of course, you can always buy generic or compatible inks which are often a lot cheaper than the branded versions.
The printable resolution needed for Giclee printing
The printable resolution needed for Giclee printing is 300 dpi. Many home printers have a resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi or greater.
This is fine for most general printing needs, but may not be high enough quality for Giclee prints.
The best way to get around this make sure you use a printer that has a higher printable resolution – this means a printer that can handle a minimum of 2400 x 1200 pixels, get 2400 x 2400 if you can find one in your price range.
What is the best size printer for giclee prints?
The best size printer for giclee prints for the at-home artist will be much smaller than the large-scale giclee printers that are used by professional Giclee printing services.
Professional services are mostly used to print large format canvas giclee prints where the large format is 23.4 x 33.1 inches (A1) and 16.5 x 23.4 inches (A2).
I assume that most of you will be using 8.3 x 11.7 inches (A4) to 11.7 x 16.5 inches (A3) sized prints.
Refer to paper sizes here for more detail: https://www.papersizes.org/a-paper-sizes.htm
The best size printer for giclee prints is one that can print at least 8.3 x 11.7 inches. This will give you enough room to print high-quality giclee prints.
My pick – spend the extra money and buy one that can at least make 11.7 x 16.5 inches (A3) sized prints. These will also be able to print 8.3 x 11.7 inches (A4) prints as well.
They are also not much larger physically than the smaller model and will fit on a desk or small table in your studio or home office.
What is the best type of paper for giclee prints?
The best type of paper for giclee prints is heavy-weight, archival-rated paper. This will give you the best color reproduction and prevent your prints from smudging or fading over time.
Other printer you can consider
Now that you are better informed, if you are not interested in the same model Giclee printer that I use then here another printer for your consideration for the best printers for giclee prints that match the criteria of being pigment based, can print 11.7 x 16.5-inch prints, and are affordable.
My other pick is the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Color All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer.
I’ll note I was a long time Epson customer and their printers were always reliable. I only changed brands as I purchased my Canon pre-loved.
The beauty about this Epson printer is that the bottles can be refilled by you and they last longer than cartridges. So there’s a cost and time saving.
Common mistakes people make when printing their own artwork
Before we go, here are some things you should remember if you’re an artist making giclee prints from home. Don’t make these mistakes:
1. Not using the correct type of paper
2. Not using a high enough resolution
3. Not calibrating their printer
4. Not printing a test strip first
5. Not signing and numbering their prints.
Joseph Colella (Joe Colella) is an Editor and Writer at WastedTalentInc. As a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While Joseph holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent fashion he spent years applying for various Art degrees; from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), to failing to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. While he jokes about his failures at gaining formal art qualifications, as a self-taught artist he has had a fruitful career in business, technology and the arts. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. Joseph’s art has been sold to private collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art advice and tutorials to copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com