This study analyses tissue-plastinated vs. celloidin-embedded large serial sections, their inherent artefacts and aptitude with common video, analog or digital photographic on-screen reproduction. Subsequent virtual 3D microanatomical reconstruction will increase our knowledge of normal and pathological microanatomy for cleft-lip-palate (clp) reconstructive surgery. Of 18 fetal (six clp, 12 control) specimens, six randomized specimens (two clp) were BiodurE12-plastinated, sawn, burnished 90 µm thick transversely (five) or frontally (one), stained with azureII/methylene blue, and counterstained with basic-fuchsin (TP-AMF). Twelve remaining specimens (four clp) were celloidin-embedded, microtome-sectioned 75 µm thick transversely (ten) or frontally (two), and stained with haematoxylin–eosin (CE-HE). Computed-planimetry gauged artefacts, structure differentiation was compared with light microscopy on video, analog and digital photography. Total artefact was 0.9% (TP-AMF) and 2.1% (CE-HE); TP-AMF showed higher colour contrast, gamut and luminance, and CE-HE more red contrast, saturation and hue (P < 0.4). All (100%) structures of interest were light microscopically discerned, 83% on video, 76% on analog photography and 98% in digital photography. Computed image analysis assessed the greatest colour contrast, gamut, luminance and saturation on video; the most detailed, colour-balanced and sharpest images were obatined with digital photography (P < 0.02). TP-AMF retained spatial oversight, covered the entire area of interest and should be combined in different specimens with CE-HE which enables more refined muscle fibre reproduction. Digital photography is preferred for on-screen analysis.