Friday, September 14, 2012

Taking a Painting From Original to Print




 I asked friends and other artists to recommend someone local to create prints of my original paintings, and was given the name of Grant Kernan (www.akphotos.ca) in Cowichan Bay. I visited Grant in his sunny studio close to the bay to see what options were available to me. Grant spent hours with me showing me various papers and canvases, discussing the process from capture to print, and answering my many questions, since I am new to the printing process.


The process of capturing original artwork and reproducing it so that it looks almost exactly like the original is painstaking. Grant describes his approach this way: "I am committed to bring every part of the process very close to perfection. The lens and its camera alignment, lighting, filtering, editing, printing and finishing must all be meticulously performed. If one component fails even a few percentage points then the whole process becomes unsatisfactory." 


 Grant uses a Better Light scanning back camera  - a Swiss precision large format 216 mega pixel camera. Grant's experienced eye, his world class German optics, and meticulous attention to lighting results in world class digital photographs.


I had to take this up close shot - this camera is truly amazing!

Grant spends quite some time aligning the artwork precisely on the grey wall. If the paintings are warped or bowed at all the photograph will not be precise enough. Sometimes artwork on board has to be screwed onto the wall to ensure that they are flat enough to be photographed.


Grant used these huge lights to side light my paintings so that the texture of the paint would be captured in the photos.


After Grant captures the images he imports them into Photoshop. I was drooling over all of the big Mac monitors. I miss a big old monitor sometimes, especially when I am looking at images of artwork. This part of the process can be quite time consuming. With the digital tools in Photoshop Grant manipulates the digital images, printing them out after each adjustment and comparing them to the original artwork. He did about 5 different printouts with my paintings until he was satisfied with the results.


Grant uses two different printers - he printed my prints on the large printer below.


After Grant and I spent some time color correcting he showed me how he applies the acrylic coating prior to stretching the printed canvases. He is happy to share his years of knowledge and techniques with his clients. Some prefer to do the topcoat and stretching themselves.


Here he is trimming the canvas in preparation for mounting on the stretcher bars. Grant digitally "pulls" the colour from the painting into a 1 1/2" border, which then wraps around the sides of the stretcher bars, avoiding a hard line at the edge of the image.


Stretching the canvas is hard work. Not sure I want to take that on myself, especially as Grant does such a great job.


Voila! A 18" x 18" mounted giclee print on canvas of Tropical Paradise!


I was so pleased and happy when I left Grant's studio that I celebrated with an ice cream and a sit by the water. Another gorgeous day in the Cowichan Valley!



Here are the giclee prints on canvas with the originals. I plan to hand embellish each print to give them more of the look and texture of the originals. Each one will be unique!



I learned a lot about the process of capturing and printing artwork, and I am so thrilled with the results. My advice to anyone considering the process is to ask around for the name of someone who does really high quality work, and then go and see for yourself. This process is not a "throw your image on a scanner bed and press the green button, but a highly skilled and creative process in itself, and quite magical in the hands of someone who loves his craft and has a high commitment to achieving great results. Thanks Grant Kernan of AK Photos!

I will post details on ordering prints on both canvas and paper soon.