The following “dictionary” comes directly from Dan 'Dano' Steinhardt’s, an Epson Professional Imaging Division’s Marketing Manager, personal Dictionary of Fine Art and Photography Printing Terms. He has collected these terms as he’s learned them from others over the years. For the sake of trying to reduced the volume of information in this list, I have removed some definitions (hence the Concise Edition) which I’m sure at some point I’ll find myself adding back in.
Dano is a humble guy who acknowledges others who have educated him along the way. However, he is a true technical master of fine art printing that many photography legends (i.e., Greg Gorman, Douglas Dubler, Vincent Versace, etc…) all turn to when they need help getting the best possible results out of their Epson printers and papers.
The resistance to scratching of a surface of paper by other paper surfaces or other materials.
The ability of a material to take up moisture.
(Neutral pH of 7.0) During paper production, treatment employed with a mild base is employed to neutralize the natural acids occurring in wood pulp. Buffering may also be used to prevent the formation of additional acids. If prepared properly, papers made from any fiber can be acid free.
Black, white and greys. Artwork that is executed without color. Also called monochromatic.
Abbreviation for artist's proof.
Term with no definitive scientific meaning.
Traditionally, proofs pulled by the artist over and beyond the regular numbered edition, reserved for the artist's use. Now often used to designate any proofs pulled over and beyond the regular edition, whether printed by the artist or by his printer, but reserved for the artist's use.
In the United States and Canada, the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the basic size. Also called ream weight and substance weight (sub weight). In countries using ISO paper sizes, the weight, in grams, of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage and ream weight.
To extend the print image to the edges of the paper.
Brightness is a measurement originally developed to monitor pulp bleaching. There are two predominant scales for conveying brightness: GE and European. Whiteness is a measurement taken by shining a bright light source onto a sample of paper. An electronic sensor takes a reading of the color of the reflected light—or whiteness.
The effect of seeing a flash of bronze color reflecting off pigment inks. Sometimes confused with gloss differential.
The process of smoothing the surface of the paper by pressing it between rollers. Uncalendered papers — those not made smooth by calendering — have a less smooth texture.
The measurement of thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils (millimeters).
A pigment made of elemental carbon and ash.
High gloss, coated paper made by pressing the paper against a polished, hot, metal drum while the coating is still wet.
Certificate Of Authenticity
The "cert", as it is called, is a statement issued originally by the publisher stating the total edition size, the edition number of the piece being sold, the year published, the fine art printer and the medium.
A printed or stamped symbol used by the printers and print workshop (and sometimes by artists and collectors) as a mark of identification. The chop may be inked or merely embossed.
A more textured watercolor paper. Cold-pressed paper offers more "tooth".
A printers' or publishers' identifying symbol or emblem.
Materials used to produce color, such as dyes, inks, pigments, toners, or phosphors.
A paper color that is resistant to fading due to aging, or the action from external agents such as light, acids, heat, chemicals and other adverse conditions. Lightfast and sunfast are variations of the term.
All photographs and those illustrations having a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to line copy or halftones. Abbreviated contone.
The irregular edge of handmade paper formed in a deckle by tearing. After tearing, a bone knife is used to smooth the edge and create the deckle edge look.
Term used to describe the difference between the requested and the actual printed dot size. In inkjet printing, causes are dust on the surface of the paper that causes the ink to spread, and ink bleeding. On presses, a whole slew of mechanical, optical, and chemical factors can cause the dot size to increase, and in print manufacturing, the term "dot gain" is slowly being deprecated in favor of the term "Tone Value Increase" or TVI.
To print a single image twice so it has two layers of ink.
Any matte finished paper.
Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup.
Any deckle edged paper, originally produced in the Netherlands.
In visual arts, an edition is a set of duplicate prints or casts of a particular image. The types of reproduction that the term edition refers to can be offset-lithography, lithographs, serigraphs, etchings, offset-lithography or cast sculpture. If the number of prints to be produced is unlimited, the edition is usually referred to as an open edition, whereas, if the number if prints is predetermined and limited, the edition is then preferred to as a limited edition.
The size of an edition is the TOTAL number of pieces printed by the publisher and includes all artist proofs (AP), printer's proofs (PP), "Roman numeral" pieces and all other pieces signed and numbered of that image. Therefore, though your piece may have an edition number of 150/295, the TOTAL edition size may be substantially higher than 295, depending on the number of AP's, PP's, etc.
To press an image into paper so it lies above the surface. Also called cameo and tool.
Smooth finish on uncoated book paper; smoother than eggshell, rougher than smooth.
Paper that is not the brand specified, but looks, prints and may cost the same. Also called comparable stock.
Making an exact copy of a work of art
Soft woven pattern in paper.
Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss.
A term used to refer to fields traditionally considered to be artistic. "Fine art" is a distinction referring to its aim to be purely aesthetic, having only the purpose of inspiring or stimulating the viewer's emotions. Crafts, on the other hand, are more commonly used as simple decorations or made to serve a practical purpose.
Papers made specifically for writing or commercial printing, as compared to coarse papers and industrial papers. Also called cultural papers and graphic papers.
(1) Surface characteristics of paper. (2) General term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post printing operations.
Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.
A term for the fibers that project from the paper surface.
A building, an institution, a room or a website used for the exhibition/display and or sale of artistic work.
A print set aside for a Gallery's use; usually for display purposes.
A French word which loosely translates to "little squirt" or "to spray". Its a marketing term with no definitive meaning.
Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing. Also called machine direction.
Grain Long Paper
Paper whose fibers run parallel to the long dimension of the sheet. Also called long grain paper and narrow web paper.
Grain Short Paper
Paper whose fibers run parallel to the short dimension of the sheet. Also called short grain paper and wide web paper.
Basis weight of paper in grams per square meter (gsm).
(Gram per square meter) The gram weight of a hypothetical square meter of a particular type of paper, a good comparative measurement because it does not vary with sheet size.
A term used to describe the effect that occurs when a spec of dust or debris adheres to the printing plate and creates a spot or imperfection in the printing.
Hor commerce proof
(French, "not offered for sale") A proof of a completed print (aside from the edition) that is not intended for sale and is marked "hors commerc" or "h.c." such proofs are sometimes retained as archival impressions by the artist or the publisher, or are used as demonstration proofs in marketing the edition.
A paper surface that is smooth, produced by pressing a finished sheet through hot cylinders.
A quality of paper to be resistant to ink absorption, allowing the ink to dry on the paper surface.
A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look. Laid lines are close together and run against the grain; chain lines are farther apart and run with the grain.
Bonding one product to another by pressure for protection or appearance.
Artistic style in which width is greater than height. (Portrait is opposite.)
The edge of a sheet of paper feeding into a printer.
Substance in trees that holds cellulose fibers together. Lignin causes papers to yellow if not removed.
Limited Edition Print
An edition of identical prints, numbered sequentially and individually signed by the artist, having a stated limit to the quantity in the edition.
A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.
Linting and Surface Contamination
Problems occurring when lint, paper fibers or other surface contamination causes spots or uneven inking when printing.
A printing process in which the image to be printed is rendered on a flat surface, as on sheet zinc or aluminum, and treated to retain ink while the non image areas are treated to repel ink. Also see Offset
A paper finish that results from the interaction of the paper with the Fourdrinier process as opposed to post machine embossing.
A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring.
Machine Glazed (MG)
Paper holding a high-gloss finish only on one side.
Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.
Primary or underlying material on which other materials (such as ink, coating, paint, or treatment) are applied, or from which other materials are made. Also called Substrate
Often confused with metameric failure, metamerism is the phenomenon that makes all color matches possible. Sample metamerism is a psychophysical phenomenon commonly defined as the situation when two samples with different spectral reflectance curves produce a visual color match under one light source but fail to do so under another. Observer metamerism describes the phenomenon where two observers see the same sample as having a different color: comparisons of the difference between the way our eyes see a color and the way a camera sees color are examples of observer metamerism.
The inability of color samples to maintain a color match under different light sources. Often, when people talk of metamerism, they’re really describing metameric failure. Metameric failure is often seen with pigment ink prints where the ink pigment, often yellow, appears green under daylight or magenta/red under tungsten light.
A reproduction of the original printed matter possibly containing instructions or direction.
The general period from 1905 to 1955, when Pop Art ushered in the postmodern period in art.
Paper made by a slowly rotating machine called a cylinder-mould that simulates the hand paper-making process. Fibers become more randomly intertwined in machinemade papers, producing a stronger, more flexible sheet or roll.
A term used to describe spotty or uneven ink absorption. Also called sinkage. A mottled image may be called mealy.
Weight of 1,000 sheets of paper in any specific size.
A building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value.
When the basis weight of paper differs from the actual weight, the term nominal weight is used.
A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood; also called cream, off-white or ivory.
In commercial printing, a widely used technique in which the inked image on a printing plate is imprinted on a rubber cylinder and then transferred (offset) to paper or other material.
Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.
A quality of paper that allows relatively little light to pass through.
An edition issued without limit, individual number, or artist's signature.
A phenomenon where the humecitant or anti-drying agents in inks come out of the print and are deposited on a surface such as the glass in front of a framed print.
Layer of material taped to a mechanical, photo or proof. Acetate overlays are used to separate colors by having some type or art on them instead of on the mounting board. Tissue overlays are used to carry instructions about the underlying copy and to protect the base art.
To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint. Also called surprint.
A print made using inks based on pigment instead of dyes. Pigment prints are considered longer lasting.
A unit of measure in the printing industry. A pica is approximately 0.166 in. There are 12 points to a pica.
Phenomenon of ink pulling bits of coating or fiber away from the surface of paper as it travels through the printer, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.
Any bond, cover or bristol stock with an extremely smooth finish achieved by calendaring.
Color that the customer considers satisfactory even though it may not precisely match original samples, scenes or objects.
(1) Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch. (2) Regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).
A school of art that emerged in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and became prevalent in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1960s; it imitated the techniques of commercial art and the styles of popular culture and the mass media
An art design in which the height is greater than the width. (Opposite of Landscape.)
An artistic work, often a reproduction of an original painting or photograph, printed on a large sheet of paper that carries limited value. Can also be a reproduction from an original commercial painting or drawing.
Late-twentieth-century critical, literary, and performance movement that reacts to modern art and literature; postmodernists suggest that truth is no longer verifiable, and that new art forms are best created by freely mixing previous styles and themes.
Preferred Portfolio Edition
Print editions designated by the artist and intended to be presented and contained in a portfolio or folio collection of prints.
Proofs pulled over and beyond the regular numbered edition which are distributed at the artist's discretion.
Principal Portfolio Edition
See notation above for Preferred Portfolio Edition.
Any type of analog or digital output used in any art form. Graphic Print used to connote collectable works of art that have been reproduced vs “Print” which tends to mean a photograph.
Print permanence refers to the longevity of printed materials, especially photographs, and preservation Issues. Over time, the density, color balance, luster and other qualities of a print will degrade. The rate at which deterioration occurs depends primarily on two main factors: the print itself, that is, the colorants used to form the image and the medium on which image resides, and the type of environment the print is exposed to. For ink jet prints, dye-based inks generally last longest when used with specific paper types, whereas pigment-based inks can be optimal on more types of paper. Ink jet paper types include swellable paper, porous paper, and cotton fiber paper. Environmental factors that hasten the deterioration of a print include exposure to heat, ozone and other pollutants, water or humidity, and high levels of light. Though light-induced fade often gets the most publicity, greater than 90 per cent of consumer prints are stored in the dark where the effects of heat, humidity, and/or pollutants can dominate. While ISO (International Organization for Standardization has developed standards for the testing of image permanence, those standards have yet to be extended to digital print output, though the organization has signaled its intent to provide such standards.
Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results from the printer and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.
In the fine art world the publisher is the company who contracts with an artist to print an edition. The publisher is usually responsible for the printing and the marketing of the artist's work. By printing an edition, many art collectors are able to enjoy the same image, and at a greatly reduced price from the original painting.
This is the regular edition of each print, numbered in arabic numerals.
(1) Sheet folded twice, making pages one-fourth the size of the original sheet. A quarto makes an 8-page signature. (2) Book made from quarto sheets, traditionally measuring about 9' x 12'.
Papers with a complete or partial content of cotton fibers.
These proofs, pulled over and above the published edition, are unnumbered duplicates intended to replace prints which may become damaged in shipment, handling, etc.
The term used to refer to the copy of a fine art piece. A reproduction could be in the form of a print, like an offset-lithographic print, an inkjet print on different substrates or even reproduced in the same medium as the original, as in an oil painting.
To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.
Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.
Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.
To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease.
Printing technology that is used to print everything from t-shirts and short-run posters, to novelties like coffee mugs and decals. Screen printing is most valued for its ability to print on a wide variety of materials with flexibility. Also known as Serigraphy.
A market, largely operated by retail galleries, where limited edition prints are bought and sold by collectors after the edition is sold out at the publisher. Generally prints offered for sale on the secondary market are at values above the original published price.
Print made using a stencil process in which an image or design is superimposed on a very fine mesh screen and printing ink is squeegeed onto the printing surface through the area of the screen that is not covered by the stencil. Also called Screen Printing.
Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a printer. Also called offset.
A problem that occurs when the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side.
Compound mixed with paper or fabric to make it stiffer and less able to absorb moisture.
Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the "printed run" for a variety of reasons such as eliminating out-gassing.
That quality of paper defined by its levelness that allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.
Where a print is shown as "sold out", this means sold-out at the publisher. "Sold-out" prints are sometimes available from galleries at the original publisher's price, depending upon the length of time elapsed following publication.
Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.
The quality of paper to maintain its original size when it undergoes pressure and moisture changes.
The material on which an image is printed, usually paper but can be any substance for which a method of adhering ink can be achieved.
A machine procedure that produces a high finished paper surface that is extremely smooth and exceptional for printing.
Paper whose surface absorbs inks to allow quicker drying and somewhat longer display life. However, swellable papers remain sensitive to water and moisture and prints can be ruined by even small amounts of moisture.
Reduction in the tonal range from the original scene to the printed reproduction.
The rough surfaced finish of papers.
Total Numbers of Prints
It is often difficult to determine the total number of existing impressions of any single print unless the edition is carefully controlled and the documentation made public. Because of the complexity of the various trial and state proof series of work, absolute numerical accuracy cannot be assured though every effort has been made to achieve this end.
Trial proofs are taken for various reasons, such as to test various inks, papers, make-ready, and the press. Often they are discarded if the test produces unsatisfactory results.
Decorative design or illustration.
An image printed around the same time as the negative (or original capture) was made.
To Unique or Enhance an image on a print --usually by painting over, or "highlighting", the focal points of the image with original paint, thus giving the print "texture", "dimension" and added "distinction". (Also known as "Hand Enhance" or "Hand Highlight")
Papers that are not smoothed by going through the calendering process.
Translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing by slight embossing from a dandy roll while paper is still approximately 90 percent water.
The ability of a material to withstand the effects of exposure to weather conditions, significant change in physical or chemical properties.
With the Grain
Parallel to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to against the grain. See also Grain Direction.
Made with chemical pulp only. Paper usually classified as calendered or supercalendered.
A trial proof bearing the artist's printer's notes and corrections.
A smooth paper made on finely textured wire that gives the paper a gentle patterned finish.
Enjoy more of Dano’s work
I highly recommend enjoying his Signature Worthy Series videos where photography industry legends discuss their (and my) favorite Epson papers. It’s an inspirational and enjoyable series that truly captures the joy of using Epson’s wonderful Signature Worthy Papers (which I will discuss in an upcoming article).
The origin of these words are not from a single source or individual, and in many cases are unknown. This is merely a collection of terminology which is provided to offer a common language and understanding of the following terms when used in a discussion of Fine Art Printing. When used outside the context of a Fine Art Printing discussion, these terms may have entirely different meanings which is true of many words in the English language.