Buy my work!
rosa murillo's items Go to rosa murillo's photostream
    follow me on Twitter
    « CHARM- Topic for May 20 2008 | Main | No luck »

    How to make prints of your artwork (long post-get coffee)

    Why is it a good idea to make prints of the art you do? Well, maybe you have your own way of making them, but here are my two cents.

    Some galleries will argue that if you are “one of those artists” who make prints of your work, then you will not be offering your clients unique pieces, and therefore you should not get your work reproduced, so that when someone buys the original, it will be the only image of that painting that there is. To these galleries, I stick out my tongue, and say: TBBBBTH!

    And after that I will follow with this: I say that an original painting cannot ever be reproduced, an original is exactly that, an ORIGINAL. To reproduce it you would have to paint it again.
    With paint! And whatever else you used to produce it, and even if you try, it will never be the same, it will be unique, therefore, NOT a reproduction. So there.

    But what of all the people who cannot get the original? I think a print is a good solution. It helps also to have affordable art to appeal to a wider audience.
    And remember, we as artists keep the rights to the image we created, regardless of who bought it.

    I am a self taught artist and a lot of the things that I do have been learned on the go. I am doing the best I can with whatever instruments I have at hand. And since sometimes I don’t have 75 dlls an hour to have one painting professionally scanned (which can take several hours) I had to figure out a way to do it myself, so after a lot of trial and error, the following is the best I think you can do at home.

    So here we go.

    How to make prints of your artwork

    1. Finish the art work (This is a very important step! and it means NO borrowing someone else’s art to reproduce, keep in mind that snatching images from the internet is very frowned upon by the artist community)

    2. Do not try to make prints from a digital picture. Get a scanner. I use a CanoScan D660U which is an ancient scanner, but I liked it because you can scan negatives too, it's so cool.

    There are a ton of scanners out there, some of them come with a fax and a printer, plus they are not as expensive as you may think.

    3. Scan the painting at 300 dpi or more. If it does not all fit on the scanner bed, don’t worry, scan it in parts and save each one in different files, you can piece them back together in an image editor software later.

    4. Save all your files in jpeg, this is a tricky one, there are several ways you can save your files, for example .pdf, .wmf, .psd, etc.  But I have learned that jpegs are compatible with many image editing software and are the easiest to convert, I’ve heard that these are “heavier”, meaning that they take up more space in your hard drive and can take some time to load, depending on the size of the image, but jpegs are the files that I’ve had less trouble with, please don’t send me hate mail about this one, I am only sharing what has worked best for me.

    5. Once all your painting parts are scanned, open an image editor software, like Photoshop. (very expensive) I use a one called Pixelmator. (It was $59 dlls!!) It works almost exactly as Photoshop but was designed specifically for Macintosh and it’s really easy to use.

    6. Open all the files you scanned and start piecing them together in one single file. Start by making the canvas size the same of your original painting, then copy and paste all the files of the painting on the first file you created, and be really careful with all the unions, zoom in as much as you can and try to get them to match perfectly, because if they don’t you will notice right away when you print.

    7. Once all the pieces are in the same file, crop all the edges and save your file as a .jpeg, remember to save it at 300 dpi.

    8. Now on to printing! You can print it at home with a color printer, but I recommend that you find a place to professionally print your file to the original size of the painting (I go to a place where they have big pro printers to make signs and posters).

    You can take the files to them on a CD or send them the file by email, call them ahead of time and ask them if it's ok. These printing businesses should have a choice of gloss or matte as well as a choice of the thickness of the paper, I always try to get the thickest matte paper available. Some places can even print on canvas and staple the print on a stretcher frame so it looks like the real thing! Some places even give you a free massage with your order, but these are really difficult to come by.

    9. Number, date and sign all your prints with a pencil. Also, do a small run of prints and if you decide, for example, to only make 30 prints of one painting, number each one like this 1/30, 2/30, etc, so you can keep track of them and of how many you have sold. It is a good idea to make a small run of prints, 50 the absolute maximum.

    10. Keep each print in
    a separate plastic sleeve to protect them from sticking together. (very important because the humidity and the weather can affect the inks).

    And that's it! There are also other methods of doing this, like glicee prints which is basically the same thing but way more expensive. (Because of the professional scanning, color correction and more expensive printing with those fancy inks and all)

    I hope these steps help you make your own prints and if you see something I've missed or have more comments, please let me know, thanks! 

    Reader Comments (15)

    You did it! Wow what a great reference. I still have not made prints yet but I am going to have to very soon. Your tutorial fit my needs wonderfully. Oh and Thank you again for your kind comments. You are such a hoot! I love your blog and the heartfelt commentaries often bring a smile to my face on an otherwise dreary day!

    May 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathyL

    You ROCK! Thank you so much for this. I'm really good on the computer but it never occurred to me I could scan the painting in sections and put it back together, I LOVE this. I can't wait to try it out!

    May 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
    We don't have much luck with scanners - it doesn't get much use and then just when we need it for something it stops working! This has happened twice now, so we are currently scannerless. :(

    Great tutorial though!
    May 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUndaunted
    Hi, that was great info. I am considering taking prints of my work to sell to get me through University. Can you tell me more about the plastic covers you mentioned? What is the proper name and the cardboard mounts etc., how/where to I source those. Having problems finding out. Thanks so much for your info, you've probably saved me a fortune. Regards

    July 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary
    I am in the process of entering work into a gallery to be sold ! Whilst checking over the instructions about the regulations for each piece i came across a section asking for number of prints! My head just sprang to life as creating prints from my original paintings had not crossed my mind atall! Although the whole basis of me creating my paintings was to sell them I have found myself getting rather attached to them ! I am pleased I have found a site that explains the process of making prints as this sounds an amazing idea and will make it easier to sell my work i reckon. I am unsure whether to put my original paintings into the gallery or the prints! If anyone can cast light on this for me as i have never put any work into a gallery before and I dont know whether i have to put the original in? I have found this site very useful and look forward to trying out some self prints on my computer :)
    best wishes
    September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrhys
    Thanks for the great tips. I have a few pictures lying around here and there that I've finished and considered selling but never got around to it because I could never find a concise article on how to get it all together!
    January 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPink
    Nice article. Despite your warnings, I gotta disagree with the JPEG part. JPEG is a lossy compression method, meaning you actually lose information and quality in your scanning process, no matter what quality setting you use. If the goal is high quality prints, uncompressed TIFF is a much better format to work in. Your file sizes will be significantly larger, but your prints will turn out much better. JPEG is more relevant to the web, where file size is more of a concern. It also doesn't handle the red end of the spectrum very well (tends to blur, create artifacts, etc)

    Besides that, I enjoyed this article very much. Keep it up.
    May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan
    Brendan is right--TIFF has much higher quality than jpeg. You should work with TIFFs even if your print output must end up in JPEG format: you can export or save as jpeg as the last step before sending to the printer. And you should plan your work with an eye toward your final print size. If you create a 12 x 12 inch piece at 72 dpi, it will print out at 144 dpi at 6 x 6 inches. To control cropping, work with an image that is proportional to your final print size. For example, if you want to end up with a 4 x 6 inch print, work with a 16 x 24 inch image.

    Also, you can get surprisingly outstanding prints from Walgreens. They cannot match your original colors, but then your local photolab can't either unless you get very, very expensive custom prints. And you will get slightly different color balances if you get prints at different times, A professional printer can tell the difference, but almost nobody else can, even a former professional printer like me. I have had $30 20 x 30 inch prints from Walgreens that were worth putting $300 frames on.

    Minor point: Photoshop basically started off in the Mac/Apple environment, and it functions perfectly well in PC. Rosa's right--it is very expensive. However, if you are a college student or a member of some other organizations, you can get licenses for special editions that will probably do everything you want, especially if you get it packaged in the Creative Suite form with Illustrator and some other integrated software. I personally find Illustrator to be more useful than photoshop for a wide range of things.
    July 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLain
    Wow, this is great. I am going to give a try. I am not that computer/scanner savy but you spelled it out and I think I can do it. Thank you so much.
    September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Reilly
    Hi and thanks so much for this post! I am recently trying to gather info about how to make prints of my art at a resonable cost. Since you wrote this post several years ago, would you change anything? Do you make your prints the same way? How about file size? TIFF vs. jpeg?
    Thanks so much,
    Debbie xo
    May 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Saenz
    Hi and thanks so much for this post! I am recently trying to gather info about how to make prints of my art at a resonable cost. Since you wrote this post several years ago, would you change anything? Do you make your prints the same way? How about file size? TIFF vs. jpeg?
    Thanks so much,
    Debbie xo
    May 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Saenz
    You are the best! Thank you for your advice!
    September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
    This article and the comments were extremely helpful. Thank you.

    How does the electronic process compare to more traditional print making techniques. Thoughts?
    I've been looking on how to do this. Thanks so much!
    August 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
    Great article !!!! Very helpful and clear, thank you very much sir :)
    February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRimka

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.