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What is GICLEE Printing?

If you work in graphic design then there is little doubt that you have come across this term before in passing. But do you know what it means? This article will help outline the types and criteria that must be met for a print to be called giclee.

The first thing you need to know is that it's pronounced 'Zhee-Clay'. The word is taken from a version of the French word 'la giclée', meaning 'that which is sprayed or squirted'.

Giclee printing is a type of inkjet printing – but importantly, not all inkjet prints are giclee prints. Giclee printing is meant to produce a product at a higher quality and with a longer lifespan than a standard desktop inkjet printer. 

We only use the CANON Lucia Pigment process technology. It utilises 12 pigments (not dyes commonly used elsewhere). These ensure the ultimate colour gamut & archival permanence.

Originally, the word was used to describe digital reproductions of conventional artworks (painting or drawing) or photographs. Today, it is generally accepted that a giclee print can also be a work created entirely in a digital workflow on a modern computer application like Creative Cloud editions of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

The last element in a true giclee print is the type of ink and printer used. The biggest contrast between a standard inkjet print and a giclee print is that giclees are printed using pigment-based inks rather than the dye-based inks found in lower-cost inkjets.


Pigment-based inks have a longer lifespan, and can last anywhere from 100 to 200 years without significant fading. The type of printer used to create giclees is usually a larger format model that specifically uses pigment-based inks and will hold around eight to 12 different colour ink cartridges. The more inks used, the more sophisticated the colour range available on final output.

Look for LUCIA from Canon producing the ultimate end result combining 12 colour pigments.