Printing Fine art

Digital fine art prints can be produced in smaller numbers than offset printing and require less time and money. It’s a great way for artists to produce their own prints without relying on an outside print company. Fine art prints can be created ‘on-demand’ and sold within a short period of time to collectors. We’ve outlined the fine art printing process below and we’ve included some guidelines to ensure success with your prints.

Convert the Artwork

Creating a fine art print requires the original artwork to be converted to a digital image file. A high-quality scanner can be used to convert negatives, slides or even hardcopy photos. Scanners with these capabilities can be purchased for less than $200 at most office supply or electronic stores. Make sure you scan the artwork at a high resolution of 300ppi to create a clear, high-quality image.

Larger works of art may be digitized using a couple of different methods. Artwork can be photographed with a digital SLR camera mounted on a tripod under consistent, full spectrum light. A large format scanner can also be used instead of a camera to create a more accurate image file for print. The digitizing method used will be determined by the type of original artwork and the file required for the printer.

Correct Image Color

Artwork photographed or scanned should be color corrected to ensure accurate reproduction. Avoid basing the print colors on the inaccurate image colors viewed on your computer screen. You’ll need to invest in a monitor calibration device and software to correct the colors on the screen. Then you can use Photoshop to soft proof the image and adjust the colors before sending it to the printer.

Choose Media

It’s important to choose a media with archival properties when printing fine art. Archival media will have a longer lifespan and reproduce color more accurately than standard media. The media will usually indicate if it is archival quality on the package or in its sales literature. You will want to look for terms such as archival, acid-free, cotton or rag base.

Print the Image

The type of printer and ink used for the fine art print are the final choices to be made in the process. Avoid using dye-based inks found in lower-cost inkjet printers and choose pigment-based inks instead. The lifespan of pigment-based inks can last anywhere from 100 to 200 years without significant fading. Select a large format printer that contains around eight to twelve different color ink cartridges. It will provide a more sophisticated color range on the final print.

Fine art printing can be a rewarding process that elevates your artwork to the highest level. A high-quality image reproduced with a proper color setup, media and ink will make all the difference in the final output. Follow the guide above and enjoy limitless artistic potential reproducing your artwork.

handling fine art media

One of the most overlooked parts of fine art printing is proper handling of the print media. Fine art media is damaged or compromised frequently during the production process. Proper handling protects the integrity of the media and ensures success from start to finish. Here are some tips to improve print quality by handling fine art media properly.

Avoid Contamination

Elements in the print environment, such as dust and debris, can affect the media when it is stored uncovered for long periods of time. Dusty AC vents, fan blades or ceilings, and dirty floors only make the problem worse. It’s best practice to keep media inside the protective plastic sleeve and stored back inside the box until your ready to print on it.

It only takes one smudge on a print and you must throw it away. It’s easy for oil and dirt to transfer from your hands onto the fine art media. Avoid using your bare hands to handle a print. Wear white cotton gloves to handle the print and remove them if you need to do anything else. You could contaminate the gloves if you keep them on while touching other things in the print environment.

Avoid Damage

Damage can occur to the media when it is mishandled during printer loading or carrying the final print. Thinner media types and larger prints are more susceptible to this issue. Improper handling can crease or leave small dents on the surface and result in a reprint. Take special care when loading or carrying fine art media by holding it along the edge and avoiding anything that could damage the surface.

Fine art paper, canvas and other fine are media are more susceptible to abrasions and scuffing than standard media. This is attributed to the delicate coating on the media and the fragile nature of aqueous ink. A high-quality protective coating like a liquid laminate will protect the print and prevent scuffs or abrasions.

Control Climate

Fine art media exposed to changes in temperature and humidity may curl. The amount of curl that occurs will vary depending on the print environment and the type of media. Curl can happen relatively fast and may cause expensive head-strikes if left unattended. It’s best practice to store fine art media in the print environment around 68ºF at 50-60% relative humidity to prevent media curl.

Handling fine art media properly results in less damaged and wasted material. It helps improve print quality and keep your costs under control. The examples provided here may seem small, but they add up and affect print quality and profit.