Giclee vs. Lithograph Prints - What’s Best for You?

Many of us are new to the art world. It's scary, but you'll love it! So, you must be wondering about the real difference between a giclee vs. lithograph. 

Both art forms are basically used to recreate or repurpose the original artwork, but the printing process and end results for both are totally different.

Let us take you through every difference and similarity between a giclee and a lithograph, and we guarantee that you'll love it!

giclee vs lithograph

Giclee Vs. Lithograph

Here comes the ultimate face-off between giclee prints and lithographs, as both have high value. Starting with giclee, it is valued higher due to the use of high-resolution inkjet printers in the creation of the artwork. 

Giclee prints are more long-lasting and durable as compared to lithographs. In fact, a giclee print can last for two centuries without severe fading.

Many artists around the world prefer giclee prints over lithographs because of their durability over generations. However, lithographs are a viable choice for mass production. But you won't get more than four ink colors to produce a lithograph. 

What Is A Giclee Print?

Giclee is an art term that means to spray ink. It comes into use when artists have to reproduce their original 2-dimensional art into the exact same replica without compromising quality using the inkjet printer. Giclee results have higher resolution than lithographs, which makes them a popular choice. 


Here is an example of a digitized image of an original painting by Miguel Camarena. This digital copy can be printed on canvas using the Giclee printing process on demand.

The color palette is more diverse than that of a lithograph. A giclée is produced using a high-resolution inkjet printer that sprays ink onto approximately 1/100th of the length of a hair. 

What Is A Lithograph?

Since we're getting into the details of lithographs, it's best to know where they originated from. Alois Senefelder invented this printmaking technique in the late 18th century, called lithography. 

It involves using a grease material to sketch or transfer an image onto a smooth, flat stone surface. After that, the stamen is submerged in ink and subsequently rejected by the water.

When a lithographic press is used to print an image onto paper, the outcome is a high-quality replica of the original picture with fine details and tonal changes.

Artists around the world have used the lithography technique for fine art printmaking and commercial printing. 

lithography artists working in a workshop

Are Giclee Prints Worth It?

When we talk about recreating original artwork, the first thing that comes to mind is giclee prints. There's absolutely no doubt that giclee prints are superior for their extraordinary quality and longevity. This is why people are now more curious about how to make giclee prints.

When artists have to reproduce their original artwork, they use giclee printing made up of archival inks and the highest-resolution paper or canvas to preserve the originality of the artwork with meticulous details.

You also get multiple customization options, digital credibility, and the sense of buying a ditto replica of an original artwork. How cool is that?

If the core purpose of buying a giclee print is because of your affordability, then it best serves this purpose. We all desire original artwork, but not all of us can afford it. Well, now we can enjoy the same great visuals in an affordable format. Giclee prints are highly affordable, with no compromise on the quality of the original. The aesthetic that giclee prints bring to life is unimaginable. The quality will last longer than any other print. It's a win-win situation for you.

What Is A Lithograph Worth?

Lithographs are definitely valuable because the process that goes into creating them involves extensive effort and labor. You can produce too many lithographs in one go, and over time, the production of lithographs has been reduced because it focuses more on quality than quantity.

Lithography Process

A print is a piece of art created by stamping a design onto a grid consisting of stone, wood, or metal. After the lithography artists successfully create a design on the grid, they ink it and transfer it to a stable support. That support is paper.

  • The lithograph artists start by covering a flat plate with a thin layer of photosensitive material, such as a light-sensitive polymer or metal plate. 
  • By applying UV light to the plate, it creates a photographic negative or positive image. The photosensitive substance on the plate undergoes chemical changes due to light.
  • A chemical developer is applied to the exposed plate. Depending on the type of plate used, the portions exposed to light become more susceptible to ink (positive working) or less receptive (hostile working).
  • The next step is to apply ink to the plate's surface. The ink then stays in the areas treated by the developer, which later become ink-receptive.
  • The inked plate is then wrapped in a sheet of paper and run through a press.
  • Sometimes, when the final lithograph print requires multiple colors, the artist uses a separate plate for each color of ink. The exact process gets repeated for each color with precise alignment.
  • Once all colors are applied, the printed substrate can dry. Additional drying processes might be required, depending on the ink and paper used. 

Difference Between Lithograph And Print

We won't say there's a world of difference between a print and a lithograph because both are eventually prints. The lithograph on canvas is a special printing method used commonly in the early centuries. Simply put, this means that not all prints are prints, but a lithograph is always a print.

difference between lithograph and print

Finally, in comparison to prints, the number of lithographs is restricted. Given the complexity of the technique, there are relatively few methods to create an infinite number of the same artwork using this method. You will find a serial number on each lithograph because every print is rare and unique.


What is the difference between a giclee and a print?

Giclee prints have a higher resolution than traditional prints, which means the end results of giclee prints are more detailed and sharp. Additionally, the paper or substrate that gets used in giclee prints is slightly higher quality than traditional prints. Therefore, they last longer. On the flip side, a print is a reproduction of any art or picture on paper, wood, or any hard surface.

How can you tell a lithograph from a print?

One common way to find out if the print is lithographed is to look at the print under magnification. Hand lithograph marks will have a random dot pattern formed by the teeth of the surface painted on them. You’ll see that the inks may be laid immediately on top of each other, creating an extremely rich appearance.

How do I sign giclee prints?

The only good way to sign a giclee print is by following the same rule you follow while signing hand-pulled prints. You can just sign at the bottom, right below,  or simply on the blank side at the back.

How much do giclee prints cost?

It's hard to state an exact amount for a giclee print because it varies depending on different factors, but a quick way to calculate is to know that a high-quality giclee print will cost 1/3rd of the cost of the original art piece. You can do your math.


All we have to say is that while making a choice between a giclee vs. lithograph, compare their pros and cons side by side, and voila, you'll have your decision! It all depends on your specific needs and requirements for art.

Giclee prints are known and praised for their exceptional high-resolution quality, vibrant colors, and ditto replication.

On the other hand, with their different textures and low cost, lithograph prints have a more traditional appeal, making them an accessible alternative for art enthusiasts on a budget.

Ultimately, whatever you choose for the sake of art appreciation will enhance your space with charm and beauty.

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