Breathing Color’s New Lyve Canvas Offers Higher Quality for Fine Art Giclee Printing

Earlier this month, Breathing Color released its new fine art canvas, Lyve.  The new flagship giclee canvas media is touted as offering huge increases in both color gamut and dmax.  Better than Breathing Color’s industry leading and widely respected Chromata White?  This I gotta see for myself. 

Breathing Color's Chromata White canvas and new Lyve canvas

Breathing Color's Chromata White canvas and new Lyve canvas

Printing in-house in my boutique studio in Carmel permits me to offer much higher quality products to my clients.  I have been using Breathing Color’s highly regarded Chromata White canvas for years.  Chromata white is a 20.5 mil white matte canvas.  It is an archival giclee canvas free of optical brightner additives (OBAs).  The fine tooth canvas prints details well with an exceptional color gamut and good dmax.  Coating with Breathing Color’s Glamour II tends to enrich colors and give added protection from sticky fingers and the elements. (See my other blog articles on canvas portraits).   I received several rolls of Breathing Color’s new Lyve canvas a couple of weeks ago.  My understanding from Breathing Color is that they will continue to offer Chromata White alongside their more expensive Lyve canvas.  No trial rolls here—I bought 24″ and 44″ rolls of Lyve from Breathing Color.

The Lyve canvas is actually the same canvas substrate as Chromata White.  The only difference is in the inkjet receptive coating that is applied to the canvas.  Although the canvas substrate is identical, the tactile feel of the Lyve canvas feels just slightly softer to the touch than the Chromata White.  It could be just my sampling variation, but in any event, softer feels nicer.  Last week, tropical artist Neil Shaw sent me some of his newest works on canvas. Neil wanted some copy-work done using the new Phase One P65+ medium format digital back.  Neil also needed some giclee fine art reproductions.  This is a perfect opportunity to try out the new Lyve canvas and compare it to the tried and true Chromata White.

Making custom printer profiles for Breathing Color's new Lyve Canvas

Making custom printer profiles for Breathing Color's new Lyve Canvas

I have been doing photographic copy work for Neil Shaw and other artists for quite some time now, and using the new Phase One P65+ MFDB, my clients can be assured of  high quality detailed digital files.  To be fair, I generated new printer profiles for both the new Lyve canvas and Chromata White.  I used Datacolor’s Spyder 3 Print to generate a high quality printer profile.  I also further customized the printer profiles for both canvases by adding an extended gray target measurement for better black and white printing.  Prints were then made on an Epson 9800 with Ultrachrome K3 pigmented inks.  At Neil’s request, I extended the canvas by “mirroring” the image in post-processing to allow for a gallery wrapped canvas print.  Both canvas reproductions were then sealed with two coats of Breathing Color’s Glamour II varnish.

Neil Shaw Tropical Art and fine art reproductions on Breathing Color Lyve Canvas and Chromata White canvas.

Neil Shaw Tropical Art and fine art reproductions on Breathing Color Lyve Canvas and Chromata White canvas.

I can’t say that there is a stunning increase in quality going from Chromata White to the Lyve Canvas.  And maybe this is just a testament to how good the Chromata White Canvas really is to begin with.  Is the Lyve canvas better?  Not by leaps and bounds, but to my eye, it is definitely a better canvas substrate.  It may be difficult to see on web based images, but when compared side-by-side, there is a definite subtle improvement in the color gamut.  A different image may show a larger difference in quality than exhibited in this example.  Breathing Color will be releasing a new sealant also, but not as a replacement for Glamour II.  Rumor has it that this new sealant is easier to apply than Glamour II and will further extend the color gamut and dmax of the Lyve Canvas.  Regardless, Breathing Color’s new Lyve Canvas will become the new canvas of choice in my studio for my portrait and wedding clients.

For more information on my fine art giclee reproductions on canvas or fine art papers, see, or call 831-626-1844.  My landscape work is at House of Landscapes.  You can also bug Neil Shaw for his artwork at  Neil is also an accomplished portrait artist and has work available for viewing in Redding, California and in Maui.  Rumor has it Neil may be opening a gallery of sorts up in Washington…

UPDATE July 2, 2009:  Rich Charpentier, a photographer based out of Prescott, Arizona, also uses Breathing Color media, but on a HP wide format printer.  Rich also tested the new Lyve canvas after generating new color profiles on his HP.  Rich’s tests were similar and mirrored my own experience with the new Lyve canvas.  Rich’s review is at    Two thumbs up for Breathing Color’s new Lyve canvas.  kmd.


12 Responses to “Breathing Color’s New Lyve Canvas Offers Higher Quality for Fine Art Giclee Printing”

  1. Ken! Just had a show and I (gladly) spend more time explaining your (OCD 🙂 attention to detail; the print process, the canvas, the varnish. I joke that you could drive over your prints with a tank and they can take it.

    Seriously, I spent alot of time telling people of the research, care and attention that goes into these prints. I can never explain it the way you do, but I try. You ROCK, dude!!

  2. […] art reproduction, the best canvas to use is by a manufacturer called Breathing Color who makes the Lyve Canvas and Chromata White […]

  3. […] you will want to make sure your printmaker is using the Lyve Canvas or Chromata White Canvas from Breathing Color.  Both are optical-brightener free and offer the best available in color and longevity for fine […]

  4. I found very informative. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. keep it that way.

  5. Great posting. I tested out Lyve recently as well. After doing a few comparative prints I did find a broader range, but like you, not a huge leap. Definitely perceptible.

    Thanks for the great information.

  6. I would be interested in what people think of Breathing Colors new coating – Timeless. I am currently using Glamour 2.

    • Hi Paul,
      Breathing Color’s Timeless was initially designed for those who don’t coat canvas often and/or do not want to deal with mixing ratios required with Glamour II. I’ve been coating canvas using Glamour II (HVLP) for quite some time and have developed my own bulletproof workflow. (Timeless does require slight dilution with HVLP sprayers). I’ve used Timeless, but at this time I have no intentions on changing from Glamour II—-Lyve canvas with Glamour II is simply that good. ken

  7. Paul,

    Just to follow up, I second everything Ken says here. I too have tested Timeless, and I’ve been using Glamour II for quite some time. At this point in my own work process for my giclee customers I’ve found that my method with Chromata / Lyve and Glamour II works so well. So why change it?


  8. I have tried both the Chromata and the Lyve canvas.

    I found drying times extended a great deal with the lyve.

    I profiled both the materials using the same colour settings in the RIP.

    Has anyone else experienced this.


    • I have experienced zero differences in “drying times” or any sort of printing irregularities or peculiarities using Breathing Color’s Lyve Canvas. I do find it to be a better canvas than the much revered Chromata White, and consequently only use Lyve Canvas for all of my portrait, wedding, and fine art reproduction giclee clients. For both canvas types (as well as other medias), I use Datacolor to generate custom profiles with extended gray profiles as well. ken

  9. Lyve is overpriced. I stopped using it and switched to HP Artist Matte or Professional Matte canvas. It’s less per roll and the rolls are 50′. I can’t tell much difference, as far as I’m concerned BC has a great sales spiel but that’s about it.

    However I haven’t found a better varnish than Timeless Matte

    • You’ve dug up an old article, Doug. I am slowly migrating away from Breathing Color products and favor those from Hahnemuhle and Canson. Both Canson and Hahnemuhle are old, established companies, offering excellent OBA-free products, and excellent customer service. Best regards, Ken

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