Are Metallic Prints Good for Portraits?


A superb portrait is timeless, characterful, and shows the sitter at their most real. It makes sense to put such a picture on display, but photographic papers and ink age over time, and colors fade. With a metallic print, your timeless portrait has a canvas that’ll endure.

Metallic prints are good for portraits. The sublimation process used to dye the metal sheet produces vibrant, fade-resistant pictures. When opting for a metallic print portrait, select a white finish for color images to preserve skin tones and a silver finish to replace white coloration with silver.

Let’s look at why so many people select to print their best portraits as metallic prints. We’ll also consider what makes metallic prints a worthwhile investment and how to choose the right print options. Read on to discover how to make the most of your metallic print portrait.

What Are Metallic Prints?

Metallic prints are a fantastic means to preserve your favorite photographs and turn them into enduring display pieces. Using a process called dye sublimation printing means that inks infuse into an aluminum sheet. The process gives the final image superb contrast and color brightness, more than you’d find in a regular print. 

Prints come in a range of sizes, though we wouldn’t suggest getting the regular photographic size for every photo in your collection then sticking them into a photographic album. Metallic prints are meant to go on your walls, either at home or in work environments. 

Metallic prints are high definition images destined to become the talking point of any setting when infused with your most striking or resonant images. You get to decide the format you want, the size, and the finish to maximize display opportunities. By selecting a metallic print, you opt for a premium decorative item that is resistant to fading, scratches, spills, and more. 

The metal your image transfers onto is Aluminum, which is lightweight. If it’s an alloy, it’s stronger than more dense metals, like steel. Aluminum is a very safe, non-reactive metal, so it doesn’t corrode over time. It can also take different finishes, which gives you options on the type of finish or color quality you want to gain.

Because of the high definition quality printing process and Aluminum’s lightweight quality, metallic prints are perfect for large format images. They’re also archival.

What Makes Metallic Prints Perfect for Portraits?

Metallic prints are great for portrait shots because of the inherent color quality and the crisp, sharp print standards associated with this way of printing. You can also select to have prints made in a variety of sizes and formats. So, if you’ve got a large wall that’s begging for an original piece of work, metallic prints are the ideal choice. 

Whether you have a portrait that’s so good that you have to share it with the world or your print is meant as a gift for a loved one’s wall, the range of options, shapes, and mounting styles means you’re on your way to creating a lasting gift that will forever display the character in the portrait. After all, there’s nothing worse than a torn, faded photograph of the ones you love. 

Because of their nature, metallic prints will not perish due to wear and tear. The dye sublimation process means pigments are infused into the metal, so they’ll look as fresh as the day they were printed even long into the future. They’re also easy to clean. If your portrait is in a place that’s prone to fingermarks, you can wipe the surface with a regular household cleaner. 

Of course, there are certain caveats to be aware of when choosing your metallic print finish options. Let’s take a look at how to select the best type of metallic print so that it complements your portrait. 

Choosing Your Metallic Print Portrait

When you’re opting for a metallic print, there are a couple of critical aspects to factor in when placing your order. Two components you must consider are color and finish. 

Print Options: Color

The dye sublimation process requires the aluminum panel to be treated with a polymer gel. The polymer gel helps to absorb the inks, and the gel you opt for affects the final tones in your portrait. Here’s what you need to know about the two options you have:

What to Expect With a White Base

When you select a white base or a true-color surface, the colors in your portrait will pop. Skin tones will be even and accurate. Conversely, suppose you opt for a silver base or brushed metal finish. In that case, skin tones will be obliterated by the metal underneath. 

What to Expect With a Silver Base

A silver base or brushed metal surface replaces any white areas in your image. It also softens the colors. When you opt for a silver base, you’re choosing to emphasize the qualities of the metal underneath. With some images, this can look fantastic. 

If your image is a color portrait, do not opt for a silver base. However, if you have a black and white portrait, playing with a silver base could be a bold stylistic choice, as you wind up with a black and silver image instead.

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Print Options: Finish

Again, you have two choices when it comes to selecting the finish for your metallic print. 

What to Expect With a Glossy Finish

Think high shine and gleaming surface when you opt for a glossy finish. Gloss finishes to either color print option produce a vibrant, crisp appearance. While it will have much more reflection than a matt surface, your portrait will literally shine, catching the eye of anyone who passes by it. 

What to Expect With a Matte Finish

In contrast to the glossy finish, a matte finish is a muted, non-shiny finish that gives an image a subtle, understated appearance. We could say that a matte finish has a more sophisticated quality to it. By no means does matte detract from the portrait; instead, it lets the subject speak for itself.

In our experience, the ultimate combination of finish options comes down to the nature of the portrait. If we have a black and white picture but want to create a contemporary, almost abstract pop-art look, we go for a brushed metal, glossy finish for a bold and sleek image.

For a more classic color portrait, we always advise going for a white finish. The choice of matte versus glossy finish is undoubtedly down to personal taste. If we know the picture will hang in an area with glaring lights, we will opt for a matte to see the image irrespective of the lights surrounding it. 

Why You Need to Research the Printer You Choose

Your portrait should last and be of an impeccable standard. When you’re deciding where to get your metallic print made, be sure to select a printer that uses the best quality materials and inks. Aluminum is the best metal for metallic prints, so ask your printer about the type of metal they use. If you can, ask to see a sample of their work or look for recommendations.

As with the metal they print on, printers should also use the finest quality ink. Again, if you can see a sample of their work, this will help you to discern whether or not the printer will deliver a high-standard metallic print. Look for the crispness of the image and accurate colors. Also, check if there’s no sign of the inks bleeding into one another or of discoloration. Errors like these are uncommon, but it pays to do your research. 

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, metallic prints are more than perfect for portraits. Ensure that you choose the right color base so that skin tones are accurate, and consider where you’re placing the portrait. Doing so will help you to decide whether you prefer a matte or a gloss finish. 

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Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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