Glossary of terms

Acid Free - Acid free paper is paper that is free of acid, lignin and and sulphur. Paper which in NOT acid free becomes yellow and brittle with time.

Alpha Cellulose – this is a high grade, archival paper made from wood pulp rather than cotton rag. It is acid and lignin free

Archival - Refers to inks and papers that will last years rather than a few weeks. Inks in small format desktop printers can fade in as little as a few months. Unless the ink and paper vendor guarantees the longevity of their prints even large format prints may fade.

Baryta - A thin layer of barium sulphate introduced in 1884 and used to brighten photographic papers. The layer of barium sulphate allow the emulsion, or now inks to sit on top of the paper and not be absorbed into the fibres giving a brighter image with denser blacks. Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta is stocked by Silicon, prints really well and offers a really nice gloss finish with an old school history.

BAT - “Bon a tirer” or good to pull or print. This is the last stage of the proofing process when the artist can elect to produce one full sized print as the final proof. Traditonally this print remains the property of the printmaking studio.

CMYK Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and BlacK, are the traditional offset printer colors used by commercial presses. This color model has a narrower color gamut than the RGB color model which computer monitors use. In order to increase the color gamut for inkjet printing many, but by no means all, digital printer use light color inks to increase the color range of a print. Our Epson printers have a much wider color gamut than offset or high speed digital presses.

C.LC.M.LM.Y.K.LK.LLK Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, Yellow, Kblack, LKLightBlack, LLK, LightLightBlack ink colors used in some inkjet printers to acheive a much wider color gamut than offset or digital presses can acheive

Chine-Colé - a special technique in printmaking in which the image is transferred to a surface that is bonded to a heavier paper in the printing process. We use this process in digital combination prints where we can print in full color on rice paper which is then bonded to a heavier paper with an etching.

Cold Press Paper - Paper traditionally came in three finishes rough, cold press (textured) and hot press (smooth). Rough was dried by hanging up the paper, cold press by interleaving with blankets. Hot press was cold press paper run through heated rollers to give a smoother finish. We have several cold and hot press papers available for printing.

Color Calibrated -  A computer system where the monitor and printer are calibrated to match each other. Not as easy as it sounds, as we print in an RGB color space most monitors can only display 70% or less of that color space and are calbirated to watch video and not to match prints. You can use a monitor calibration device that helps your monitor match the prints and, even better, buy a monitor that can display 98% of the RGB color space (they cost between $500 and $2,000) and even then nothing is perfect.

Color Space - See FAQ's

Continuous tone - An image which is produced in smooth solid color rather than discrete droplets. A traditional photograph is an example of a continuous tone image. Ink jet prints all show some form of dot although you may need a magnifying lens to see them.

Digitize - Digitize - Usually referring to scanning an artwork or photograph. An artwork or photograph is generally made up of a continuous tone image, digitizing the image converts it into a series of tiny dots that can be edited and printed by a computer.

DPI - Dots per inch. This is sometimes used interchangeably with PPI or Pixels per inch.

Dye-based Ink - Some printers use ink where the color is in solution. This is not as strong a concentration of color as the pure pigment and can result in prints that fade in a shorter time. This is not true of all dyes or all pigment based inks.

Edition - The number of prints that an artist makes of a single image. In traditional printing these are usually printed at the same time. In digital printmaking the process gives the artist the freedom to print an edition over time. The artist can spread the cost over time and only needs to order a print when it has been sold. The term edition still tends to be used for a digital print although strictly speaking they should be considered a series.

EPS files are vector-based files - the lines are determined by mathematical formulae and the files while small can be enlarged without loss of resolution. Illustrator, InDesign and CorelDraw are all vector based drawing programs and can save files in EPS format.

File Formats - AI, EPS, JPEG, PSD, TIF are acronyms for file formats used by a variety of software programs to create digital art. . JPG files are compressed file and can have compromised image and color fidelity.  PSD Photoshop native file format. TIF raster, or dot-based, file-types are optimal for printing.

Fourdrinier - A type of paper making machine patented in 1806 that could and can make continuous paper rolls.

Giclée print - A term created by one of the earliest IRIS printmakers to describe IRIS prints. In ink jet printing a stream of ink under pressure is focused onto the page. Giclée is a French word for spurting of liquid. At this point the term giclée can mean any kind of ink jet print and does not denote any archival rating. We avoid the term and call our prints "pigment prints".

GSM - Denotes the weight of paper measured in grams per square meter.

Hot Press - see cold press

Inkjet print - Any print produced by a wide range printers from the small printers that many people have for personal use to printers which produce prints of unlimited length and many feet wide. A continuous stream of ink is broken into droplets by electrical vibration of a crystal (piezo-electric crystal technology). A variety of methods are then used to focus the droplets to form the image. Ink jet printers most commonly used by artists are made by Epson although Hewlett Packard and Canon have similar offerings.

IRIS Prints - IRIS printers were the pre-eminent ink jet printer. The printer was originally created for proofing graphic design layouts. The advantage with the printer was that it could print on anything, paper, wood, plastic and fabric. Until recently it was the only printer with a variable droplet size enabling it to produce an almost continuous tone print. Each droplet is less than the size of a human blood corpuscle and the printer produces 4 million droplets of ink per second during printing. An IRIS printer capable of producing a print of 34" x 46" cost well over $100,000 when new.

Laser print - A printer in which powdered carbon based toner is fused to paper using heat.

Lenticular Print - This is the combination of a specially prepared print viewed through a many angled plastic sheet or lenticular screen. The image will then appear to move or look 3-Dimensional. Specialized software is required to produce the printed image.

Lignin Free - see acid free

Monitor Calibration – see color calibrated

Momme - The weight in pounds of silk 45" wide x 100 yards long. 1 mm = 4.340 gsm so a 18 mm silk would be about 78 gsm.

Mould-made -

OBA’s - Optical Brightening Agents

Painter - A software program made by Core Corporation that emulates the tools that artists use to create images

PDF - Portable Document format from Adobe systems. It's a cross platform file that can be viewed and printed on any computer with a FREE Acrobat reader (available from We can print PDF's.

Photoshop - One of the most widely used software programs for making digital images.

Pigmented Ink - The color is formed by having small pieces of pigment suspended in a liquid. Actual pigment is used so the inks are usually more archival than dye-based inks.

Plotter - printer which uses pens or nozzles to produce lines rather than solid washes of color.

Raster - Computer files that are formed by dots, most files produced by Photoshop are raster based. (see vector)

RC Based - Resin Coated paper similar to traditional photo paper

RGB red, green, blue - the way a file is normally scanned and the color model used in computer monitors.

Scanner - A device that can be used to digitize (convert to dots) negatives, photographs, and drawings. These dot based files can then be changed or edited in the computer. Some artists use the surface of the scanner as their composing space - scanning 3-D objects directly.

Series - A number of prints of the same image printed over time.

Sintra - Sintra is a lightweight yet rigid board of moderately expanded closed-cell polyvinyl chloride (PVC) extruded.

Vector - Computer files where the image is formed by mathematically determined lines, most files produced by Adobe Illustrator are vector based.




Like to see more listed here? Just let us know what terminology you would like to see and we will add it!

Silicon Fine Art Prints 139 N. 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Toll free 888-ART PRINT / 215-238 6062 © 2015 (Notice)