- Acrylic Printing Tip #1: Choose the Right Image
- Acrylic Printing Tip #2: Understand the Difference Between Face-Mounted and Direct-Print Acrylic
- Acrylic Printing Tip #3: Beware of Reflections
- Acrylic Printing Tip #4: Opt for Something of the Utmost Durability
- Acrylic Printing Tip #5: Where to Find TruLife Acrylics
- High Desert Frameworks
- Image Craft
- Prints Giclee Shop
- Pro Lab Digital
- Scale Up Art
- Weldon Color Lab
Sometimes, the most difficult part of creating a photo is determining the type of material on which it will be printed.
Over the years, I’ve had hundreds of prints made on paper, canvas, metal, and wood. Each substrate offers its own benefits and detriments.
I’ve also had many acrylic prints made with varying degrees of success - some completely blew me away with their quality while others were complete duds.
That being the case, I wanted to share a few tips with you on what to look for in an acrylic print.
Let’s get started!
Editor’s Note: To illustrate each point, I utilize TruLife Acrylic as an example. TruLife is an industry leader for acrylic prints with incredible colors, durability, and anti-reflective properties. I have a TruLife acrylic hanging in my office, and it is hands-down the most visually stunning acrylic print I’ve ever purchased.
Table of Contents
Acrylic Printing Tip #1: Choose the Right Image
First things first…
Before we explore the desired properties of an acrylic print, you need to understand what images work best with acrylic.
Where canvas prints tend to subdue colors for a more reserved look, acrylic prints are known to bring colors to life.
In other words, photos with a ton of color depth really pop when printed on acrylic. This isn’t to say that black and white images shouldn’t be printed on acrylic - quite the contrary. The high contrast of a black and white image is also suitable for acrylic prints. But acrylic really catches the eye when the image printed on it has colors that run the gamut of the color range.
But not all acrylic prints are made alike…
As I noted above, I’ve had some hits and misses over the years with acrylic prints.
I have to say that the best I’ve found thus far are those that utilize TruLife acrylic.
I’m no scientist, so I couldn’t possibly explain how it works, but TruLife is formulated to transmit 98 percent of the visible light spectrum.
What that means for you and I is that we see optically brilliant, crisp color vibrancy when looking at a TruLife acrylic. It’s literally true-to-life color in high resolution. That’s exactly the kind of visual experience you want to give viewers!
But don’t take my word for it...see what I mean in the video above by Moose Peterson.
“TruLife Acrylic creates a nearly invisible viewing surface, which allows my artistic vision for thescene to be interpreted clearly.” - Thomas D. Mangelsen - Legendary Nature Photographer
Acrylic Printing Tip #2: Understand the Difference Between Face-Mounted and Direct-Print Acrylic
There are two types of acrylic prints, each with their own strengths.
First, face-mounted acrylic prints (shown above) are first printed on paper (typically high-grade archival-quality paper) which is then mounted to a sheet of acrylic.
This type of application usually results in much more vibrant colors, though, because paper is involved, these prints are not as long-lasting.
Conversely, as the name indicates, direct-print acrylics have the image printed right on the acrylic surface. This results in a more durable print, but you might find that the colors aren’t quite as vibrant.
This is where choosing the location to hang the print will influence the type of acrylic print you purchase.
Naturally, if you want a print to hang in your backyard patio where it will experience weather fluctuations, a direct-print acrylic is the better option. If the print is inside, though, the face-mounted variety might be more suitable.
Quick Tip: Beware that some acrylics - both face-mounted and direct-print - can easily attract dust. However, TruLife has anti-static properties, so even if your print is hanging outdoors, you can enjoy a print that repels dust and maintains a clear, crisp view of the image.
Acrylic Printing Tip #3: Beware of Reflections
For years, experts have advised photographers to be careful where they hang their acrylic prints because they are so highly reflective.
Placing an acrylic print directly across from a window, for example, or under a very bright light, as another example, is a big no-no as viewers will see the reflection of the light (and their own reflection, for that matter) rather than the image on the print.
However, one of the reasons why TruLife is the best in the business is because they developed a proprietary anti-reflective coating that allows you to hang your acrylic print anywhere you’d like.
In fact, reflections and glare are all but eliminated, leaving viewers to see your gorgeous photo in beautiful, vibrant detail.
I can attest to this first-hand…
Below, you can see a photo I took in Istanbul earlier this year. It hangs on the back wall of my studio where I have multiple monitors and studio lights on. As you can see, there’s virtually no glare!
This print took the place of a previous acrylic print of Norway that I had in the same spot. But that Norway print, which was from another company, reflected everything. I simply couldn’t have it in the background of my videos because you could see every computer screen and light.
Not so with this TruLife print! And not only is there no reflection, but the colors, vibrancy, and saturation are mind-blowing.
In the past, my hesitation with low-glare acrylic prints was that the colors were typically so bland, but TruLife has figured out how to get the best of both worlds. The colors are punchy, contrasty, and bright, just as they should be!
“I am very impressed with the true color representation, anti-reflective properties. It’s an elegant, light weight, thin product that showcases images with that pop effect. My image looks alive with the color rendition on this acrylic product. I recommend TruLife Acrylic for the serious photographer who wants to showcase their images.” – Lewis Marroquin – Lewis Marroquin Photojournals
Acrylic Printing Tip #4: Opt for Something of the Utmost Durability
By its very nature, acrylic is more durable than other printing options like paper or canvas.
But as I noted earlier, not all acrylic is made alike, so some are more durable than others.
You definitely want to investigate whether the print has UV protection so you’re sure the vibrant colors of the print resist fading over time. For example, TruLife acrylics offer 99 percent UV protection. That’s not bad at all!
Additionally, you want an acrylic print that offers scratch-resistant properties.
Where some acrylics are extremely delicate, making cleaning them a delicate task, TruLife acrylics have an anti-scratch finish. In fact, these prints have up to 20 times the protective properties of comparable acrylics.
Quick Tip: From a cleaning standpoint, TruLife acrylics can be wiped down like glass - no special rags or acrylic cleaners needed. From a durability standpoint, the anti-scratch finish means you can hang an acrylic print in high-traffic areas without worry that fingernails and other sharp objects might damage the finish (within reason, of course!).
Acrylic Printing Tip #5: Where to Find TruLife Acrylics
Having your photos printed is the last step in fulfilling your creative vision.
After all your hard work to get the shot and process it, you don’t want to skimp on the print. Instead, do what the folks in the video above did and invest in something that offers quality and long-term durability so you can enjoy your print for generations to come.
Clearly, this means investing in a TruLife print. You can’t get TruLife just anywhere, though. To see what your photos look like as a fine art acrylic print, visit one of the retailers below: