This site has not been updated since May 2004. In the rapidly developing world of digital printing, this is a very long time! In consequence, the information found on this website is out of date and may not be accurate, and should be treated with caution.

Visual Examination - Print Characteristics (1)

In order that digital prints may be understood not only in their aspects of materiality and stability, but also in terms of image quality, the characteristics of typical prints must be explored. Learning how to observe a print in detail and knowledge of some of the concepts behind the printing technology will also help in being able to identify a print, even if this merely consists of differentiating it from different printing processes. Some of the more important print characteristics are explained below.

The format of a print can be misleading, as a larger print can easily be cut down to smaller size. As this change in format is not possible in reverse, the size of a print can exclude certain processes. However, it is important to remember that formats are continuously changing.

Medium Class and Structure
The next important factor to look at is the medium class and structure. Magnification may be needed to examine the medium appropiately, but often much information can be derived from an examination with the naked eye. Even if the exact composition of the medium is not immediately apparent, it is usually possible to determine which of the four general classes it might belong to:

I. Paper

- Uncoated: with or without special surface sizing, "archival" papers

- Coated

II. Coated Plastic

III. Coated Paper-Plastic Combination

IV. Coated Specialty Medium

Following the category descriptions, methods of classification of a print medium will be described.