How are Art Prints made?
Posted by KATIE BERGGREN on
When an artist creates an original painting, they are putting paint (the type of their choice!) onto paper or canvas. When the artwork is complete and as gorgeous as they choose for it to be, they will take a photograph of the finished piece.
They will ideally use a camera that takes incredible quality high-resolution print-quality images. They will use an easel, a tripod and photography lights if they know what they are doing.
A snapshot from a smart phone is usually not sufficient to make prints from as the smartphone often blurs or stretches images at the edge of the frame. It is also a challenge getting the painting on paper or canvas perfectly parallel with the screen of the phone, which is necessary to avoid the image being skewed in the final photo.
Once the artist has the incredible quality photo or scan from a high-quality flat bed scanner (which is what I do for my small paintings), they will take it into their photo editing software to clean up the edges (crop off the background) and make sure the white balance is correct. Depending upon the light in the room or the outdoor space where the image was taken, the colors can be a little “off”, and an artist’s eye can recognize this after hours creating that piece of art.
If the image was scanned on a flat bed scanner, it may have needed to be scanned in pieces. The artist will now seam those images together to make the full image.
Keeping the image high-resolution (more pixels per inch or a higher DPI) during this whole process will allow for the use of the image for print purposes. The image will then be resized smaller (lower resolution) to be used for on-screen purposes. I always add a watermark to my images in this stage, which is my web address (www.KmBerggren.com) so that if someone sees my image online, they know just where to go to learn more about the painting or see more like it! (link to google images search of my name)
The low-resolution image is used for sharing on social media and on websites. I choose a 72 DPI for on-screen usage and 300-600 DPI for print purposes.
Etsy and other online markets will ask for an image with a width of 1500-2000 pixels, but I always choose 500-700 pixels in width. Larger images allow the downloading and printing of images from the screen, and I want to prevent that.
Read why art placed on the internet should always have a watermark and see some of my art infringed.
I have seen my actual art images being used on cups, soaps, iphone cases, journals and face masks. This happens when someone takes the image from the internet and prints it small on an item, cropping off my watermark. For a creator, this is infuriating to say the least. But as an idea-maker who has spent half of my life building and strengthening a brand, I will fight for it.
Below is one of MY products! :) note that I don't always add watermarks to items featuring art that could not be stolen and used. I still should have a watermark on this mug image, though. My bad.
The size of the paper for the print will vary depending upon the artist’s desires and also the standard sizes in their locale.
In the USA, we have standard sizes (meaning you can buy pre-made frames in these sizes) such as 5x5, 5x7, 8x8, 8x10, 11x14, 12x12, 16x20.
Considering that the finished original painting that was photographed could have been a VARIETY of shapes – the artist may have created on a long thin board, or a square canvas, or a rectangular piece of paper – the artist will then need to decide which sizes of print(s) will suit the shape of the print. And which sizes they'd like to offer for this print design.
Want to learn more about MARGINS on an art print? Here you go.
An art print is then set-up in a page layout software (I use Adobe InDesign) using that before-created high-resolution print file. In InDesign you can set up the margins and the size of the print.
When the file/page is printed on a professional quality inkjet printer, such as an Epson, onto satin or premium paper, the result should be breathtaking!
There are times when I hold an original painting up to its corresponding print and am blown away by the quality of the print and match to the original.
And what about the visual texture! How a smooth print can show the actual texture from the original painting. It blows my mind.
It feels amazing to offer these gorgeous prints to my collectors, knowing that they will receive a reliable product with excellent visual quality allows me to continue moving forward confidently.
Over the years I have expanded from my first offering of 8x10 prints into 5x5, 5x7, 8x8, 8x10, 9x12 and 13x19 paper prints and a variety of stretched canvas prints that are created by my professional photo lab.
Without high-quality photos or scans of my work, none of this would be possible.
Want some advice on framing your art prints? Read THIS post
If you purchase a print from an artist and the quality of the pieces feels mushy, washed out, not sharp but blurry, then something could be wrong. All art is different, but I trust that our eyes just know when a print feels like it was printed in the wrong quality.
Perhaps the place you purchased from has stolen low quality images off the internet? And this is why the print is not high-resolution. Please reach out to the artist directly.
Not sure who the artist is? Do a reverse image search on Google. Click on “images” under the search box and click the little camera icon in the search field on the google home page. Upload an image of the piece you are wondering about and see what you get online.
When I drop an image of Cling, one of my early and most recognizable pieces into the search field, I get this.
You are doing an artist a service if you take the time to see if their artwork has possibly been stolen from them.
Thank you in advance, on behalf of all creators.
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