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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Make Prints of Your Art in 6 Steps

Beginner's handbook

How to Make Prints of Your Art: A 6-Step Beginner Guide

How to Make Prints of Your Art: A 6-Step Beginner Guide
Lilija Karpjaka

By Lilija Karpjaka

14 min read

Artistry isn’t just about creation but also about connection. Whether you’re a professional artist or a hobbyist, learning how to make prints of your art is a fantastic way to preserve your original pieces and generate additional income.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the 6 steps to transform your artwork into high-quality prints that capture the essence of your original creation.

Art prints vs. originals: the advantages of creating prints

The conversation about art prints, as opposed to original pieces, comes down to considerations of accessibility and scalability.

Original art carries the allure of being one-of-a-kind, but it often comes with a steep price tag and limited availability. 

On the other hand, art prints serve as a bridge, connecting the artist’s vision with a broader audience. They allow art enthusiasts from all walks of life to enjoy and own a piece of the artistic experience, affirming the belief that art should be shared and widely available.

Accessibility

By reproducing original artwork, artists like you can offer your work at a more affordable price, ensuring that art lovers with diverse budgets can enjoy their favorite pieces.

This inclusivity fosters a broader cultural engagement, inviting more people to participate in the dialogue that art inspires.

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Scalability

With art prints, you have a significant advantage when scaling. You get to meet the demand of a larger market, breaking geographical barriers that often limit the exposure of your original piece. 

This scalability means that you can sell an unlimited number of prints. It also allows for flexibility in product offerings, like limited edition prints, which can create a sense of exclusivity while still being more accessible than original art.

Here’s how to take your first step. 

1. Digitize your artwork

Creating prints of your art is a multi-step process that involves digitizing your artwork, ensuring the highest possible reproduction quality, and selecting suitable printing materials. The goal is to create a print that faithfully represents the original piece’s colors, details, and “spirit.” 

There are two ways to digitize your artwork while keeping the highest possible quality.

Scanning

a hand holding a piece of paperSource: Canva

1. Prepare your artwork

Before scanning, ensure your artwork is clean and free from smudges or dust. Gently wipe the surface with a soft brush to remove any particles.

2. Select the correct resolution

Use a high-quality scanner to capture the intricate details of your art. Scan at 300 DPI (dots per inch) or 300 PPI (pixels per inch), or go higher to ensure sufficient resolution for large prints.

3. Adjust scanner settings

Color mode: Select the appropriate color mode. Select “Color” for a vibrant palette and “Grayscale” for the nuanced black and white art shades.

4. Choose the correct file format

We accept files in both PNG and JPEG format. However, save your scan in the PNG format to avoid compression loss with JPEG files. 

5. Preview, adjust, and scan with precision

Place your artwork face down on the scanner. Make sure it’s aligned straight to avoid any unnecessary editing later. 

Then, do a preview scan first and tweak settings like brightness or contrast to match the original artwork as closely as possible.

Once everything is set, perform the final scan. Save the file with a clear name that includes details like the date or the name of the artwork.

6. Edit if needed

To ensure the digital version matches the original artwork, you may need to use image editing software to crop the edges or make minor color balance or sharpness adjustments. Before you proceed, check the “prepare your files for printing” section.

Alternatively, you can scan your artwork at your local print shop, like Staples, or another specialized scanning service. These services often have high-end equipment that can handle delicate or large-scale artwork and can provide expert advice on the best settings and formats for your specific needs.

Taking a photo

If scanning isn’t an option or your artwork is too textured or three-dimensional, taking a high-resolution photograph is the next best step. The goal is to capture your art in the best light and from the right angle to ensure the picture is as close to the original.

1. Choose a capable camera

You’ll need a camera with a high megapixel count and manual settings to control exposure and focus. A DSLR or mirrorless camera is ideal.

If you don’t have a camera, a modern smartphone will do the job.

  2. Ensure excellent lighting

Soft, indirect natural light is optimal. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent unwanted shadows and color distortion. On overcast days, the layer of clouds will act as a diffuser to the sunlight and reduce harsh shadows.

For indoor lighting, use two evenly spaced lights at 45° angles to the artwork to reduce glare.

a diagram of a projectorSource: Canva

3. Setup your artwork

Make sure your artwork is clean and display it against a plain background to keep the focus on your piece.

4. Adjust camera settings

Use the highest-quality settings available and stabilize the camera with a tripod or another stable object. Opt for manual mode, with a low ISO for clarity and a mid-range aperture like f/8 for consistent focus. 

F/8 is not too open, which means it doesn’t let in too much light that could blur your shot, and not too closed, so it doesn’t make your photos too dark.

a close up of a camera lensSource: Canva

If you use a smartphone, adjust your settings to the highest resolution possible.

For example, you can enable Apple ProRAW on the newest iPhone models and select 48 MP (megapixels). Afterward, head to your camera and tap RAW at the top of the screen.

Similarly, on Samsung models, you can go to camera settings and tap on Advanced picture options > Pro Mode > Set RAW.

5. Position and capture

The camera should face the artwork squarely to prevent skewing. A grid feature can help with alignment.

Snap a variety of photos, including close-ups of detailed areas, to have options during editing.

a person holding a cameraSource: Canva

6. Edit if needed

Inspect the images on a computer, fine-tuning them with editing software to ensure they represent the original art precisely.

2. Prepare your file for printing

Preparing your file for printing is a critical step in producing professional-quality prints that accurately represent the visual nuances of your original artwork.

If you’re preparing a print file for Printful, always check the guidelines and print file templates in the File guidelines tab on each product page. 

a screenshot of a computerSource: Printful’s file guidelines

Here’s everything you need to know in a nutshell. 

  • Print file resolution (DPI). Aim for a DPI of at least 300 for a crisp and clear print. This ensures that your prints have the same level of detail and sharpness as your original artwork. 

  • File size. Check the File guidelines tab under your chosen product.

  • Color profiles (RGB and CMYK). Understanding color profiles in your image editing software is essential for accurate color reproduction.

You need to remember that RGB is typically used for digital displays, while CMYK is the mode used for print media. 

That said, when editing your artwork, use the CMYK color profile. This mode includes the color tones that are in gamut, which helps to avoid gamut issues. 

Our printers are programmed in sRGB color mode.

To get a better color match, convert the file to an sRGB color profile after the design is done, specifically to sRGB IEC61966-2.1. You need to do this because the colors in CMYK color mode represent printable color tones, while sRGB colors are more for screens.

Find out more here: RGB vs. CMYK: Guide to Color Spaces.

  • File format. At Printful, we accept JPEG or PNG. As mentioned earlier, we recommend saving your file in the PNG format to avoid compression loss with JPEG files. 

Always check the mockup of your work in the Printful’s Design Maker. Make sure you select and adjust each poster size individually. 

By paying attention to these details, you can ensure that the transition from digital files to physical print maintains the integrity and essence of your original artwork.

To sum it up:

1. Scan or upload your artwork to your computer with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI.

2. The print file requirements for size can be found when selecting a product and clicking on the File guidelines tab.

3. When editing, change the color mode to CMYK and make any necessary changes.

4. After you’ve finished with the design, save your print file in the sRGB color profile: sRGB IEC61966-2.1.

5. Choose the PNG format

Learn more: Everything You Need to Know to Prepare the Perfect Print File

3. Decide on the material

The material you select to create prints is as crucial as the artwork itself. It’s the vessel that brings your creation to life. 

Each material offers a unique texture, weight, and finish, impacting your art’s visual and tactile experience. Whether you want the classic elegance of canvas, the sleek modernity of metal, or the vibrant versatility of posters, your choice will shape how your art is perceived and enjoyed. 

Below, we explore the characteristics and benefits of different materials to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your artistic vision and your audience’s preferences, ultimately guiding you toward creating best-selling print-on-demand products.

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Canvas prints are renowned for their textured, three-dimensional appearance, which adds depth to any artwork. This makes them a particularly popular choice for reproductions of paintings. They emulate the look of original canvas paintings, offering an authentic artistic experience.

Canvas is also celebrated for its durability and resistance to fading, ensuring that art prints maintain their visual integrity over time. 

Canvas prints provide versatility when it comes to display options. They can be stretched over frames for a gallery-style presentation or framed in a more traditional manner, allowing for a range of aesthetic choices to suit different preferences and decors.

Posters

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Posters are a staple in the art print world, and here at Printful, we cater to all tastes with regular and framed posters and their two distinct paper types—matte and luster.

Matte posters, often favored for fine art prints, are the go-to for those seeking a non-reflective finish. The matte feel makes them ideal for displaying digital art and traditional pieces where glare can detract from the viewing experience.

It’s also one of our customers’ favorite products.

a screenshot of a reviewSource: Printful reviews

 

On the other hand, luster posters are the showstoppers for photographers. They have a semi-gloss finish that makes the colors pop and adds a subtle sheen, enhancing the visual impact of photography.

a picture of a man walking through a forestMatte poster (left) and luster poster (right)

Both matte and luster posters are printed on high-quality paper, ensuring longevity and resistance to fading. This means your art will continue to inspire and attract attention for years. When choosing between matte and luster, consider the visual effect you aim to achieve with your artwork.

Metal prints

Metal prints offer a modern and sleek option for artists and photographers looking to showcase their work with a contemporary twist. The high-definition clarity and vibrant color reproduction on metal give the artwork a luminous and dynamic quality that stands out in any setting.

Creating metal prints involves printing dye ink on paper and transferring it to the aluminum metal surface with heat. This results in images that are both waterproof and scratch-resistant. This makes them a durable choice for indoor and outdoor display, ensuring your art can be appreciated for years without the risk of fading or damage.

What’s more, these prints are lightweight, making them easy to hang without heavy-duty mounting hardware. Their minimalistic, frameless design lends itself to various decor styles, from the ultramodern to the industrial chic.

Learn more: Your Ultimate Guide to Canvas vs. Metal Prints

Explore framing options

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A frame isn’t just a border for your artwork—it’s a transformative element that can improve the piece’s perceived value and visual impact. A well-chosen frame can turn even the simplest prints into an eye-catching statement piece.

When selecting a frame, it’s essential to consider the desired vibe for your artwork. Are you going for a striking, contemporary look with a simple, clean-lined frame? Or do you want to showcase your art pieces with classical or intricate frame designs? 

a group of framed picturesSource: Printful

If you have an eye for modern elegance or appreciate the simplicity of a ready-to-hang option, Printful presents a trio of custom print-framed posters. You can choose from the refined sophistication of an elegant oak frame, the bold statement of a black ayous wood frame, or the crisp, clean look of white ayous wood. 

Each option complements your art and enhances its display with a touch of class. 

When you add a framed poster to your online store, you can add all three options and let your customers choose.

a collage of pictures of a picture frame and vasesSource: JovianPrintsMockups

Remember, when people buy artwork, they consider the space where it’ll be displayed. The color and texture of the wall, the lighting, and the room’s decor can all influence the choice of a frame. A well-chosen frame should harmonize with its environment while ensuring the art remains the focal point.

When you offer your customers frame color options, you’re giving your audience more options, which can be a significant factor in their final purchasing decision. 

4. Team up with a reliable printing company

When starting with art print selling, it’s crucial to build an excellent online reputation by offering high-quality prints and timely delivery.

The best and fastest way to do this is to partner with a reliable print-on-demand (POD) dropshipping partner that understands your artistic and business needs. 

Your ideal POD ally should offer:

  • A hassle-free integration with your chosen marketplace or sales platform, ensuring that the technical side of ecommerce doesn’t interfere with your creative process.

  • An extensive selection of products that resonate with your artistic expression and cater to your audience’s tastes, from trending products like classic canvas and framed posters to innovative metal prints, giving you the flexibility to offer a diverse portfolio.

  • An unwavering commitment to quality. They should use state-of-the-art printing technology to ensure that every detail of your original artwork is captured and reproduced with precision.

  • Robust support and a wealth of resources designed to bolster your business growth. A partner that offers educational content, marketing tips, and proactive customer service can be invaluable as you navigate the complexities of the art market.

  • A transparent pricing model that enables you to understand the base cost, printing expenses, and shipping charges, empowering you to set a fair price and forecast your earnings with confidence.

  • The assurance of upholding your reputation and dependability by having a streamlined fulfillment process.

In short,  the right print-on-demand partner complements your passion for art with their expertise in print production and ecommerce. It’s all about forming a symbiotic relationship that propels your creative venture forward.

Partnering with Printful means you don’t have to worry about the logistics of printing, storing, or shipping your art. We handle all aspects of order fulfillment, from when a customer orders to when it’s delivered to their doorstep. This allows you to focus on what you do best—creating art—while Printful takes care of the rest. 

With Printful, you can sell your art prints globally without managing inventory, a feature especially beneficial for artists just starting out or looking to scale their business. Our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction makes Printful a top choice for artists seeking a trusted partner to bring their artwork to a wider audience.

5. Get samples

Before you list your art prints online, it’s wise to experience firsthand what your customers will receive. Ordering samples is a critical part of quality control that shouldn’t be overlooked. This is your chance to scrutinize every aspect of the print—from the fidelity of colors to the precision of details and the finesse of the finish.

At Printful, sellers can order up to three monthly product samples at a 20% discount.*

screens screenshot of a product orderSource: Printful

Having tangible samples also presents a golden opportunity to create engaging content for your marketing channels. You can arrange your art in a curated home decor setting, snap high-quality photos, and use these images to craft a narrative around your prints that resonate with potential buyers and your social media followers.

*Please note that for wall art, sample orders are available in select sizes only: framed posters are available in an 8″ × 10″ size, canvas prints in a 12″ × 12″ size, while unframed posters can be sampled in any size you choose.

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6. Sell your art online

Selling art prints online has revolutionized how artists reach new audiences and monetize their work. 

By tapping into the power of online sales, you can transform your art into a sustainable business. With platforms like Printful, the process is streamlined, allowing you to focus on your creative endeavors while Printful handles the logistical aspects.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to sell prints.

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We’ve covered a more detailed step-by-step process in this video.

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And if reading is more your style, we’ve got you covered with our in-depth article: How to Sell Art Online and Make Money

Embrace the world of art prints

Now is the time to embrace your inner artist and newfound technical prowess.

This is your path toward financial creativity. Let nothing deter you from digitizing your artwork and showing it to people around the globe.

Here are four nuggets of wisdom to carry with you on this journey:

  • High resolution is the key to capturing every nuance when scanning or photographing your artwork.

  • Adhering to the DPI, file size, and color profile guidelines is essential to crafting the perfect print file that does your original work justice.

  • The right poster frame can raise your artwork’s perceived value and aesthetic appeal.

  • Securing product samples is an indispensable step in the printmaking journey. It ensures that what you envision is what you get.

Remember, each print isn’t just a reproduction; it’s a portal to your artistic soul, offering the world a glimpse of you. Embrace this opportunity with enthusiasm, and share your art with pride.

author

By Lilija Karpjaka on Apr. 22, 2024

Lilija Karpjaka

SEO Content Writer

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.