While they don't retain the value of an original painting, prints offer an effective and efficient means of reproducing your artwork. These reproductions can be sold at a lower price point than the original piece, and are, in many cases, the only way art lovers on a budget can bring home pieces created by favorite artists. To create high-quality prints of your own paintings, you'll need access to a high-resolution camera or flatbed scanner, some photo-editing software and a photo-quality printer.
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Reproduce the Image
Capturing your artwork in a digital format means it can be edited and resized on your computer before it's made into a print. The best quality prints are born from professional digital capture equipment – which includes studio lighting, tripods and high-resolution cameras. A consumer-grade flatbed scanner, however, can also work well as long as it's configured to its highest resolution scan settings. If your artwork is too large to fit on that flatbed, either scan the piece in installments or take advantage of a local print shop's large-scale scanning services.
Use Software to Edit Away
Save the new digital reproduction of your painting to your computer and then open it in a comprehensive photo-editing application. Professionals typically use Adobe Photoshop for this, but it's not the only option. If you are familiar with a different type of software, go ahead and use it to help you make prints of paintings. You'll likely only need basic tools to perform minor edits such as cropping, rotating or adjusting the colors. Depending on your eventual choice of printer, you may also have to use this software to reformat the saved file or modify its color output settings.
Make Prints of Paintings
With the image file ready to go, the next step is either finding a print shop to produce your prints or buying your own printer and doing it yourself. Note that a printer capable of reproducing large-format artworks is typically a significant investment, and not a realistic option for most artists. Whether you acquire your own printer or use a third party, be sure to use archival quality ink and paper for best results.
If you decide to hire it out, start locally since you may have to do a few trial print runs to get your colors matched perfectly. A variety of online vendors such as Society Six can reproduce images at poster and other sizes, as well as putting the artwork on items such as tote bags, T-shirts and coffee mugs. These types of items can be useful for promotion of your artwork and as an additional source of revenue.
Test the Output
Color calibrations often vary between your original painting, your computer monitor and the printer. Proof prints will help you determine whether additional edits are necessary on the digital file – for example, you may need to brighten the black hues or tone down yellow tints to counteract the printer's default. If you're using an online printing service and want to avoid the hassle of shipping proofs back and forth, you may be able to provide a printed photograph of your artwork as a reference instead.