We have been producing wood prints for a while now. We recently made some changes to a maple wood veneer panel. The new prints allow us to produce a superior quality product which is more durable and has greater image saturation and detail. Our natural wood maple panels, are ready to display. The back of the panels includes a pre-cut keyhole, so it will hang flush on any wall.
At a little more than ½” thick these panels are an ideal choice for many applications and settings without the need to be framed. The refined natural wood sides give it that finished look you require. With wood prints your image is sublimated / fused directly onto the surface. It allows for incredible detail to show while also having the wood grain look required. The surface can be dusted or even cleaned with a soft damp rag without danger of scratching or harming the image. But even with these improvements some of the same practices apply to produce the best wood print possible.
A this time we have about 8 very popular sizes. These range from 5×7 which are perfect for a table top display to 30×40 which is ideal over any large wall space. You can see and order these at the following link:
So, how do you know if your image will look good on wood or not? All the images we initially tested and made into our new wood prints have looked fantastic! But we have seen some images really stand out above others. It has nothing to do with the image quality of the artwork or the photography. It has to do with the tones in the image. Fortunately we have invested a lot of time in testing the process which allows me to share with you what we have learned. If that is not enough, our print setup tool attempts to simulate a wood print before you order it so you can get a bit of a preview to help you decide.
Let’s first look at what really helps a photograph or artwork take advantage of the wood textures and grains that you want to show in your wood print. Images with a lot of whites or lighter colors will work best if your desire is to show the wood pattern. Images where you have darker tones may start to cover up the natural wood texture so if it it has black or really dark colors, you may not see the wood pattern very well.
The reason lighter colors show the wood pattern better is because the way printers work. With some exceptions, most printers don’t print with white ink. At least this is the case in the photo and art printing world. Rather than printing white, these printers rely on the whiteness of the paper the image is being printed on. A classic example is when you print a gray-scale image such as black and white photograph. With that black and white you can sometimes get a warmer tone to the print on certain papers over others if the paper you are making your print on is too off-white. First you won’t have any pure whites because the wood is not white. But this is what we want to make a wood print in the first place. We want the the hue of the underling wood with the natural wood pattern to be visible to some extent. Keep this fact about whites in mind with wood prints. Even though we are not printing direct to wood but instead sublimating and image to it via heat and pressure, any whites in the image don’t transfer.
As previously mentioned, where you loose the ability to show some of this potential wood hue and natural wood pattern is with an image that may have a lot of dark colors. For instance, when we were first testing the development of wood prints, we produced a number of test prints using various imagery from our stock imagery and staff created collections. It allowed us to see how different types of images would look. One particular image was an abstract art piece. The tones tended toward either deep red, browns and blacks with a few hi-lights in yellow and white. White the print came out looking really nice it did not really show the underlying wood. Because of that I would have probably been better off just printing it on one of our fine art papers and then mounting it on masonite.
So what kind of images look great on wood? Here are some examples of what I think looks really good:
- Photos and portraits taken with lots of light
- Illustrations or line drawings
- Artwork on pure white backgrounds (my favorite)
- Paintings with bright colors
Photo and portraits taken with lots of light
These give the photo a very vintage look. If this is of interest to you, you will notice the image takes on a somewhat sepia tone. Not completely but just enough of a hint. Because the wood is somewhat yellow in color, you colors are influenced by this yellow tone.
Illustrations or line drawings
These look incredible. It gives the artwork a look as if it was created directly on the wood itself. While making an interesting piece to frame or display, we are already seeing what we suspect are artists intending to simply use these as under paintings which they will later hi-light or paint over with actual paints.
Artwork on pure white backgrounds (my favorite)
Think of say a flower by itself with white in the background. Or a seashell which one customer just did the other day. It looked really incredible. The artwork was centered on the wood print but the white background was not visible. I could see a series of wood prints done displaying various subject matter.
Paintings with bright colors
A good example of on our site is a faerie sitting on a log in a forest. The background sky was a very light shade of color so the natural wood texture coincidentally looked like clouds. Again, you want the wood to show up so if you have too many dark colors, you won’t be able to take advantage of this as intended.
The bottom line is any image can look good on wood but if you want your wood pattern to show up make sure you have images with a good balance of brights, mid-tones and darks. Artworks and photos that best take advantage of the underlying wood patterns will have lots of lighter colors.
Now if this is not enough information for you how about simulating the entire wood print process. It is actually quite easy with a program like Photoshop. We will have to do a video tutorial later on this but for those somewhat versed in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements simply locate or even create a wooden like pattern, complete with a small amount of yellowish hue. Then drag the image you want to print on top. This should create a layer over your wood background. Set this image layer as “multiply” and it will make your lighter tones turn translucent so the wood pattern underneath shows. Use this to get a general idea because each wood panel will be a little different from each other.
A couple things I want to point out to the very color conscientious. Let’s be realistic. If you are after that specific shade of blue, orange or green that you spent hours trying to tweak and get right on your screen, you won’t necessarily get it in a wood print. A wood print is not going to be accurate because the wood being printed on can vary. While we currently only offer birch hardwood, slight variations in it’s natural hue will occur. While I am not an expert, I know this can be attributed to things such as the age of the wood and even where the wood originated. So if you tend to get hung up on colors, don’t with wood prints since you can never predict how the underlying wood will will affect the color. Finally on a similar note, you can’t soft proof a wood print. Soft proofing relies on a white point of the paper or media the image is being printed to. Since we can’t create a color profile with a consistent white point on wood, it is impossible to provide you one.
Hopefully this will give you some insight on wood prints. If you want to test the concept out with your artwork or photography, feel free to start off with something small. I will be surprised if you are disappointed. Be sure to let us know what you think of your wood prints when you get them so we can share your own insights with others.
Wood Prints FAQs
Fine Art Papers
A giclee prints is a way to classify a professionally produced print using inkjet technology, primarily printed on canvas or a fine art paper with archival grade inks. While the process is only several decades old, it has quickly become the method of choice for both artists and photographers. Read more…
The following arrive ready to hang:
- framed prints
- stretched & mounted canvas
- wood prints
- acrylic prints
- metal prints (with the exception of some styles),
- wall art standouts
Some other types of prints may have styles that also allow for them to be ready to hang.
Choosing the paper that best compliments your artwork or photography is how you should gauge which paper is best. While our staff will be happy to offer suggestions sometimes the best choice won’t be obvious until you view the image printed on the paper. There are four characteristics that affect how an image will appear on any of our varied fine art papers: ink absorption, brightness, texture and gloss levels (if any). We recommend a good start is to test printing small prints on different papers as well as to order one of our starter kits so that you can see and feel the different papers.
To extend the life-span, store you giclee fine art paper print out of direct sunlight and avoid extreme temperature changes or exposure to humidity. It is recommended that paper prints be framed behind glass or acrylic glazing when ultimately on display. If kept in a retail environment unframed you should keep the prints sealed in clear bags which are acid free like what we offer for sale on our website.
Some papers have more difficulty in flattening our then others. This is especially true during the cooler months but can happen during any time of the year. The papers the prints are produced on are originally in rolls and the prints are printed to these rolls. I most cases we will ship prints up to a certain size flat so that they have had time to loose their curl and flatten out however this is not a guarantee. Thicker or heavier weight papers may still need more time to flatten out. We have a blog posting on our site which discusses this in more detail as well as some solutions.
In most cases your prints will not be coated and definitely not laminated. In some instances we may need to coat prints which have large expanses of dark colors in them such as solid black backgrounds. This is to help alleviate potential scuff marks that are visible within the print if not looking at it behind glass or a clear plastic sleeve.
Yes. The fine art paper prints are printed with a method we refer to as giclee printing. This is a technology that has evolved since the late 20th century to use primarily aqueous wide format printers with archival inks on archival media.
More and more fine art photographers are turning to giclee prints since in many cases photos look better and have a wider color gamut then you might normally experience with traditional photo prints. This was not always the case but advancements in inkjet technology over the past 10 years have allowed the right image with the right paper to offer a superior color gamut and better contrast and depth.
We do not recommend this. We cannot guarantee any paper print that has been embellished or had paint applied to it. Unlike canvas many of the papers will wilt and warp like most papers when saturated with any sort of liquid base. While some customers have reported success with both acrylic and oil paints when embellishing their fine art paper prints others have reported negative results. If you think you want to try doing this you should consider ordering smaller prints to test and practice the technique that works best for you before attempting with a larger print. Most artists that attempt this will pre-coat their print with either a spray fixative or pray lacquer based coating to seal the print first.