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?”
Next Question: “Which Types of Ink and Papers Do I Use?”
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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

    Hi Tara, I was wondering what to use to scan bigger art pieces, since I have quite a few pieces 16 x 20in?
    Also, I am researching to open up an etsy store of my own, so this information is very helpful! :) I see that you posted this in 2013, so do you still print the artwork yourself?

    •    Reply

      Hi Sandra,

      Yes, I still print from home! I just ordered Epson papers yesterday. :)

      Are you painting on stretched canvas? I’ve been able to scan my 16″x20″ canvas paintings, one corner at a time, and “stitch” the files back together using photo-editing software (i.e. Photoshop).

      I guess I should probably write a tutorial on how to do it, since I get asked that question so often! Hehe ;)

      If you are painting on a hard surface, like wood panels, then scanning might not work. I’ve known other artists who were able to do it, but they haven’t divulged their secrets to me. :P

      You might be better off photographing your work, or calling office supply shops to see if they have giant scanners that you might be able to use (for a fee).

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara,

    Thanks for posting this, it was really helpful. Pretty much everything I was looking for right there.

    Also saw at the bottom of one of your pages that in between painting cats in clothes, you watch BBC mini-series and drink fur-filled coffee. I had to laugh as I sat here reading your blog, in between drawing cats and watching a BBC mini-series. The only thing missing was the fur-filled coffee. That was earlier today. :P :)

    •    Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I switch to tea with fur in the afternoon. :)

    •    Reply

      Hi Tara, I was on Tv yesterday on “To B&B the Best ” Channel 5 . I’ve had my work printed into cards etc but not prints I was in the process of getting that done, however Ive to got a Epson r2800. I was wondering about art work and papers which matt semi gloss etc what would you recommend? my work is an acrylic bright colours of wild colours.
      thank you.

      •    Reply

        Hi Kish,

        Congratulations on your television feature! :)

        Gloss and semi-gloss finishes tend to highlight those bright, bold colors better than matte papers, at least in my opinion. I prefer the softer appearance of matte for my own artwork. You might consider getting a few samples printed from a lab to test the difference, before making the investment. Cheers!

  •    Reply

    Great article, Tara. Thank you for sharing!

  •    Reply

    Hi I want to do some prints of my drawings onto matt paper. I was just wondering if you can advise a paper that won’t fade. Or will a clear matt varnish spray do the job? Thanks

    •    Reply

      Hi Hayley,

      Fading prints are usually a result of exposure to UV light, moisture, and/or oxygen. I don’t think any particular paper will eliminate fading, but using pigment inks (rather than dye-based ink) will make a big difference.

      To further protect your prints, package them using archival materials or frame them with archival matting and UV glass. Professional framers finish/seal the backs of frames to protect the image inside. Try to keep them someplace dry and cool, and out of direct sunlight. :)

  •    Reply
    Christine Piper April 17, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I would like to sell fine art prints of my work on Etsy in the standard 5 x 7 , 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 sizes. However, I do not know how to resize a large image to these sizes using the image size/canvas size options in Photoshop. I would like to keep everything proportional but these sizes are not exact ratios of each other. I really don’t want to crop the pictures to make them fit in different sizes, and I would like an even white border around the outside. Could you please help me? I would soooo appreciate it!!!!

    •    Reply

      Hi Christine,

      You are right, those sizes are not the same ratios. I do crop my images to make them fit: i.e. trimming half an inch off opposite sides of an 11″ x 14″, will make a 10″ x 14″, which can be evenly sized down to a 5″ x 7″. I save each edit as a separate file ( MrDarcyCat8x10, MrDarcyCat5x7, etc…), and my original file remains untouched.

      If you would like a border, you can re-size the entire image .5″ ~ 2″ smaller than the size you need. You can fit an 8″ x 10″ image inside a 5″ x 7″ space by re-sizing it to 4.5″ x 5.625″ (which is an exact ratio of 8 x 10).

      Although the border will *not* be the same measurement on all four sides, the image should look fine if it is centered on the paper. I’ve seen other artists selling prints that way. I don’t think there is any way to get an even border (on all sides) without cropping the image, unfortunately.

      When I’m sketching ideas and painting, I try to keep all the essential bits away from the edges, because I know I might need to crop an inch from the sides, or a couple of inches from the top/bottom.

      Good luck!
      ~ Tara

  •    Reply

    I have been looking for this information forever. I guess i should have checked the internet more than once or twice in ten years. I have some artwork that I would like to either sell or give away but I can”t seem to part with the originals .I feel like I’m letting a piece of my soul go. Is that weird? I will buy a printer but probably not the $3000 model. By the way, what happened to your cats ear? why is it bent? I just recently left my husband of 20 years because he said I could not have any more cats after my cats died..bye bye soul sucker. What is strange is that now i am afraid to get another cat because i am sure that it can not be as awesome as my Murray or Frankie.

  •    Reply

    Dear Tara,
    Thank you for sharing so much information. I appreciate it! After doing lots of research about how to turn my originals into prints , and getting overwhelmed with many sites, I finally came across this site and all of my questions have been answered. Also thanks for those who have commented with their experiences and sites to check out! So helpful!!

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara … GREAT article and just exactly the info I was looking for about reproducing my art. This may have already been asked, but I’ve scrolled through several of the comments and haven’t seen this question. What paper are you printing on when you print? Thanks so much!

    •    Reply

      Hi Debbie,

      I print my archival reproductions on Epson’s Cold Press papers. I also use Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation (matte) paper for all my other merchandise: greeting cards, bookmarks, etc. :)

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara,
    Thanks for the article.
    I paint in canvas and I want to start doing reproductions, but I can’t scan the canvas, can I? Do I take a picture of the painting? But the pictures always distort the size … Any suggestions? Thanks!

    •    Reply

      Hi Maria,

      I paint on stretched canvas most of the time, and yes, I scan them. :)

      I have scanned canvases up to 16″x20″ ~ one corner at a time, and then piecing them together in Photoshop. I put weighted books on the backside of the canvas to keep it flat against the glass, and I drape black fabric over the entire scanner to block out light.

      Anything larger than, say 18″x22″, would likely need to be photographed (unless you have a larger scanner than I do)… and I am still learning how to photograph artwork properly. ;)

      Dan dos Santos wrote an excellent blog post about photographing artwork here on the MuddyColors blog.

      Hope it helps!

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara,

    How do you feel about other artists borrowing your etsy policies/terms?

    Thank you!

    •    Reply

      Hi Violet,

      I don’t mind at all! :)

      When I was starting out on Etsy, I studied many other shops’ policies while writing mine. Usually somebody will think of something you forgot!

      Which reminds me ~ I should probably review my policies, because I haven’t touched them in ages. Haha!

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