My Blog Journal


How Do I Make Prints of My Artwork?

This is a question I typically get asked by other artists looking to sell reproduction prints of their own art… and also by a few customers who are amazed at the amount of “stuff” that I sell, in addition to original paintings.

To be honest, I’m always amazed to learn that not every artist reproduces their work to sell. Many artists still don’t have their own websites, or sell paintings directly to their customers either.

I didn’t know anything about being a professional artist, or how to sell art, when I started sharing my paintings online… first through Deviantart and then on Etsy. I took for granted the vast demand for reproduction prints, as not everyone can afford to buy the original painting they love!

TaraFly Cat Art Prints

I knew that selling prints was the way to go, and I sought guidance from other artists who were successfully reproducing their artwork.

I learned that collectors were looking for quality reproductions, and I chose to invent money in a professional grade Epson printer that uses archival pigment inks, and Epson’s Cold Press paper (from their Signature Worthy line of fine-art papers).

My printer is an Epson Stylus Photo R2880. When I first purchased it in 2009, the printer’s retail value was around $1,400. Epson has released several newer models in the Stylus line, and mine has been discontinued, but you can find R2880 printers listed on eBay and Amazon for $400-800 (used + new), which makes them much more affordable to replace if necessary.

Dominic checking out my Epson printer

For now, my Epson Artisan 730 All-in-One printer serves as a scanner, although I’d love to get a large flat-bed at some point for big canvas paintings, as it’s tedious having to stitch multiple scans together in Photoshop. :P

How I Make Prints

EPson R2880 printing TaraFly cat art

I scan my canvas paintings at 600 dpi, which allows me to offer enlarged sizes, like 11″x14″ and 16″x20″, from a painting which measures 8″x10″.  My printer can actually handle paper up to 19″ wide, but I haven’t printed anything that big yet.

I’ve known people who scanned their work at 1,200 dpi or more; they could make enormous billboard-sized prints! LOL Unfortunately, my poor computer can’t handle working with huge files.

My 8″x10″ artwork scanned at 600 dpi translates into a 16″x20″ print at 300 dpi… and 300 dpi is the quality standard for printing, although printing labs will accept files as low as 150 dpi, so I can technically print even larger than that.

Once I’ve scanned my work, and saved the original scan as “the master copy”, I use Photoshop to adjust the levels a bit, because my acrylic paints occasionally reflect the scanner’s light… especially black, which turns dark grey.

I’ll also remove unwanted blemishes, such as dust particles, scratches in the paint, brush hairs, and stray pencil lines.
(Note: Scan your work BEFORE varnishing or sealing your canvas, to eliminate the headache of dealing with the varnish’s reflective glare).

I re-save my corrected file as my Master-Edit, and then proceed to crop the artwork into various standard print sizes: 5″x7″, 8″x10″, 11″x14″, etc… as well as odd sizes for merchandise templates, like my 2″x5″ bookmarks.

From there, it’s just a matter of printing them as I receive online orders… or printing in bulk quantities to stock up for craft shows.

TaraFlyArt Kimono Cat Painting

My Kimono Cat painting as a matted 11×14 print, key-chain, and art magnet.

I have been really satisfied with the quality of prints that my Epson printer produces. In fact, I recently experimented with the quality of a professional photo lab, which came highly recommended by Etsy artists… by ordering a few of their fine-art prints to compare with my own.   And I couldn’t tell the difference! Their prints turned out great, but so did mine. ;)

I could save myself some time and out-source my work, but I enjoy being involved in the process from start to finish.  I create my art, I scan my art, and I reproduce my art…. in a continuous cycle.  My reproductions are as high-quality as you can expect from a professional, and they were born right in my studio alongside my acrylic paintings.

So whether you purchase an original work of art from me, or one of my reproduction prints, know that it has passed directly from my hands to yours. =^,,^=

TaraFly printing cat artwork

Previous Question: “How Long Does It Take To Paint a Cat Portrait?”
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Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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  •    Reply

    Thanks for the information. If I am working smaller say, 4″X 6″ how large a print can I make that would still look great or should I just work larger? I don’t want to sacrifice the look of the print but having it look at all pixelated. I have a scanner that scans at 600 dpi but could get professional scans at a higher rate I suppose.

    •    Reply

      Hi, thank you for visiting my blog!

      If you are scanning your 4″x6″ images at 600 dpi, you can conceivably print them as large as 8″x12″ without losing quality. The only issue I found with reproducing small paintings into much larger prints was that any tiny mistakes, like stray lines, would become glaringly noticeable at the larger size. If you are a very meticulous artist who works in fine detail, your prints should turn out okay! Of course, scanning at a higher resolution (i.e. 1,200 dpi) will enable you to print even larger images. :)

      IMPORTANT: Make sure that when you enlarge your file in Photoshop or other editing software, that your resolution number (600 dpi) is going down as your image size goes up! That is how to avoid the dreaded pixelation problem. When I resize my image in Photoshop, I un-click the “Resample” option; you do NOT want a 4″x6″ image at 600 dpi to be re-sampled into a 8″x12″ at 600 dpi, or else it may print with less clarity (e.g. fuzzy or pixelated). Un-clicking “Re-sample” will link the dpi resolution to your image dimensions, so the ratio will remain the same: as the image size increases, the dpi will drop, but an 8″x12″ at 300 dpi is perfect for printing! :)

  •    Reply

    Id like to know how to make prints from my artwork at a cheap cost and where to do this

    •    Reply

      Hi Shelley,

      Costs are relative to the quality of your prints, but I’ve found and to be acceptable options for prints using photo papers – which are considerably less expensive than fine-art papers. :)

  •    Reply

    I’ve tried making prints of my work with an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer. They have always turned out muddy and unuasable no matter what I’ve tried. Any advice or insight as to why? Have you ever had this problem?

    •    Reply

      Hi Cindi,

      Have you checked the image file you are using to print? Is it bright and clear? You need a high quality scan or photograph of your work for printing.
      You can brighten and sharpen images using photo-editing software like Photoshop, or free alternatives like GIMP, but software will only fix quality up to a point.

      The only other thing that I can think of is perhaps the print quality settings need to be adjusted; make sure you have selected the paper type you are using (e.g. Velvet Fine Art Paper or Watercolor Bright), and choose whether you want color management to be performed by the printer or Photoshop. The blog has some helpful information specific to your Epson 3880. :)

  •    Reply

    Hello Ma’am.

    My name is Brett. I’m from Alabama which is where the ma’am comes from. Not trying to hint at you being old or anything like that. Just comes along with my southern hospitality. just a quick question to you and I greatly appreciate the time you may take to respond back to me. I have a painting that I’ve done on canvas and using acrylic paint but I am in the process of outsourcing to get prints made. I’m trying to educate myself on what the best quality and most economical friendly type of paper to use to get my prints made on of my painting, that will not take away from my artwork too much and still provide potential customers with quality prints. What type of paper do you suggest for this? I’ve heard of photo rag and Epson Smooth Lusture just to name a few but I am lost in understanding what those may actually look like when printed. lol

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