How to Make Copies of My Original Artwork

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(Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

In this modern day and age, perhaps one of the best way to make copies of original artwork is with the digital process. If your artwork is small, it can be scanned directly, or if the image is larger than the bed of a scanner, then a photographic image can be created with film and the photo image can be scanned and printed by a computer using archival inks and paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Original artwork
  • Modern computer with Photoshop or Fireworks software program
  • Scanner capable of scanning color slides or transparencies
  • Laser ink printer
  • Archival paper
  • Archival computer ink

Direct Scan

Place your artwork directly on the scanner surface with the image directed facedown and close the scanner. Be sure your artwork is smaller than the flatbed of the scanner. A 17-by-22-inch size is about the maximum that a home edition scanning unit will accommodate.

Make a scan of your artwork at a resolution of at least 350 pixels/inch and do the scan in TIFF format if you can.

Upload the scanned image to a Photoshop or other picture-processing software to make any minor adjustments to the image. Although major manipulation is possible, the idea here is to make an acceptable copy and not to create a whole new piece of artwork.

Save the image to the appropriate file. Make sure you keep the original resolution of the scan when you save the picture.

Print the picture with an inkjet printer using archival paper and ink.

Make a Photographic Image First

Set your artwork in a place where it receives full sunlight. Outdoors is fine, especially during the midafternoon and midmorning hours when the sun is neither too high nor too low. Now use a good-quality SLR camera that takes either 35 mm or 120 film and take several shots of the artwork using daylight slide or negative film. Slides are slightly preferred here, as the film images scan very well. Slide film has a smaller latitude of exposure, so be sure to bracket your exposures in half-stop intervals. Bracket in both directions, thus allowing exposures with more and less light. (Please note that some photographers prefer indirect sunlight for photographing artwork.)

Have the film processed at a reputable film lab and then place the slide in your scanner to be scanned. If your scanner does not have a special slot to accommodate 35mm or 120 film, then have a scan made at the photo lab.

Upload the scanned image to a Photoshop or other picture-processing software to make any minor adjustments to the image. Although major manipulation is possible, the idea here is to make an acceptable copy and not to create a whole new piece of artwork. (Please note that steps 3 through 5 are the same as in section 1.)

Save the image to the appropriate file. Make sure you keep the original resolution of the scan.

Print the picture with an inkjet printer using archival paper and ink.

Tips & Warnings

  • Archival inks and papers should yield a print that is stable for at least 50 t0 75 years.
  • Any or all of the above steps can be shipped out to a lab for excellent results.
  • Do not print at a resolution of 72 pixels/inch. That is reserved for the Web and does not yield a good print. Print at least at 200 pixels/inch and preferably in the 300 to 400 range or above.
  • When you're using archival inks, special papers and the full color range, an inkjet printer is usually better.

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