Transforming your handmade artwork into digital prints is a natural progression in the digital age, offering a way to share and sell your creative expressions with a wider audience. It's a practical approach that allows you to replicate your art without the high costs and time commitment of producing individual handmade pieces.
Digital prints maintain the essence of your original work while providing an accessible option for art enthusiasts looking to own a piece of your talent.
The Essentials of Digitizing Artwork
When you're ready to take your original artwork from the studio to the screen, digitizing is your first step. It's essential to choose the right tools and formats to ensure a high-quality reproduction of your art for digital printing or online sale.
Choosing Between Scanner and Camera:
- Ideal for flat, smaller pieces.
- Offers consistent lighting and high resolution.
- Necessary for large or textured work.
- Requires even lighting to avoid shadows or highlights.
Selecting Digital Formats:
- TIFF: Best for preserving detail without compression losses.
- JPEG: Good for sharing online due to smaller file size, but it compresses the image.
- A resolution of 300 ppi (pixels per inch) is generally recommended for high-quality prints.
- DPI (dots per inch) refers to printer resolution, while PPI refers to the digital image.
Scanning Your Artwork:
- Clean the scanner glass and your artwork.
- Ensure the artwork lies flat against the scanner.
- Select the appropriate resolution – usually, 300 ppi.
Editing Digital Images:
- Use Adobe Photoshop for photo-based art or detailed editing.
- Procreate is great for iPad users and offers a versatile toolset for digital artistry.
- Adobe Illustrator is best for vector-based artwork, allowing for scalable prints without losing quality.
The digitizing process is about maintaining the integrity of your original artwork while making it suitable for digital use and sale. Each step is crucial in translating the beauty of your hand-made piece into a format that’s shareable and sellable in the digital world.
Enhancing Digital Images for Print
Once your artwork is digitized, enhancing its digital image ensures your prints reflect the quality of your original piece. Pay close attention as these refinements are pivotal for presenting your artwork professionally.
Editing with Sophistication
Begin by importing your scanned artwork into an editing software like Photoshop. Here, you have the control to correct any inconsistencies that arise during scanning.
Start with adjusting the brightness and contrast to ensure your artwork pops on screen just as it does in person. Utilize layers to non-destructively edit your image, allowing you to experiment and revert changes if necessary.
- Cropping and Alignment: Make sure the artwork is perfectly aligned; use the crop tool to trim any excess.
- Spot Healing: Use tools like the spot healing brush to remove any unwanted blemishes or dust spots.
- Levels and Curves: For deeper control over the value range, tweak the levels and curves of your image to fine-tune its tonality.
Color Management and File Types
Managing colors effectively is critical when printing digital art. Your screen displays colors in RGB mode, which composes images through red, green, and blue light.
However, printers use CMYK mode, which creates colors through a mix of cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black) inks. This difference can lead to discrepancies in colors between your monitor and your final print.
To manage this:
- Color Mode: Convert your image to CMYK mode to adjust the colors and get a closer preview of what they'll look like when printed.
- Color Profiles: Embed ICC profiles to maintain color consistency across different devices and print shops.
Choosing the right file type is equally important:
- TIFF: Offers lossless compression, preserving the quality for printing.
- PDF: Ideal for sending to printers, and it supports CMYK color mode.
- JPEG: Use only if needed, keeping in mind it uses lossy compression which can degrade quality.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to producing standout prints that capture the essence and detail of your original artwork.
Choosing the Right Materials for Printing
When you're ready to turn your artwork into digital prints for sale, the materials you choose are crucial to the final product's quality and durability.
Selecting Quality Paper
For fine art prints, your paper choice can make or break the reproduction of your original piece. Archival quality, acid-free papers are your best bet for longevity and preserving the integrity of your art. They prevent yellowing over time and ensure that your prints retain their original color fidelity. Here are specific attributes you should look for:
- Weight: A heavier paper (measured in gsm – grams per square meter) provides a more substantial feel and can withstand handling better than lighter papers.
- Finish: Matte, glossy, and pearl finishes have different effects on the appearance of your print.
- Colour: Ensure that the paper's color correctly complements your artwork. Most artists prefer a bright white to make their colors pop.
When choosing paper, also consider if you're making giclee prints, where the fine art paper quality is paramount to achieve gallery-like reproductions.
Understanding Canvas and Other Surfaces
Canvas prints offer a different texture and feel, resembling original paintings. They're a popular choice for reproducing artworks because they provide:
- Durability: Canvases are generally more resistant to wear and tear compared to paper.
- Texture: The natural weave pattern of canvas adds depth to your print.
- Stretchability: You can stretch canvas over a frame for an elevated presentation.
Consider other surfaces such as fabric, metal, or wood, each bringing a unique element to your art. For example, metal can add a luminescent quality to your prints, suitable for modern, high-contrast images.
Always factor in how the surface material interacts with your artwork to maintain its intended aesthetic.
The Business of Selling Art Prints
In transitioning from physical artwork to digital prints, you'll find that selling online broadens your customer base. Convenience and scalability become key advantages.
Setting up an Online Store
Your first step is to choose where to sell your art prints. Etsy stands out as a popular platform for artists to open a shop. It's user-friendly and targets customers who look for unique and handcrafted items.
However, don't overlook the potential of operating your own website, possibly using Shopify, which gives you more control over the brand experience.
A website also allows for larger profit margins, as you're not subject to the fees that come with marketplaces like Etsy.
Print-on-demand services like Society6 or Redbubble can be integrated into your online presence. These platforms handle everything from printing to shipping, reducing the amount of physical stock you need to manage.
Here's a simple comparison table between having an Etsy shop and your website:
|Your Website (with Shopify)
|Control Over Brand
|Built-in, varied audience
|Must build your own
|Listing and transaction fees
|Monthly fees, transaction fees may be lower
|Higher due to no listing fees
|Ease of Use
|Very easy to set up
|Requires more technical know-how
Leveraging Print on Demand Services
When you're not keen on maintaining inventory or managing shipping logistics, print-on-demand is a superb choice. Services like Fine Art America offer artists a stress-free way to sell art prints without handling the physical product.
They print your artwork onto a variety of products whenever a customer makes a purchase, and ship directly to them, so you don't have to worry about the fulfillment process.
Be mindful of your profit margins when using these services, as they take a portion of your sales. Carefully research and select products that showcase your artwork effectively and will likely appeal to your target audience.
Consider the following when using print-on-demand:
- Quality: Customers expect high-quality prints. Choose a service that delivers on this expectation.
- Shipping: Timely delivery is crucial. Check the service's shipping times and reliability.
- Product Range: More options can mean more sales. Pick a service that offers a variety of products to print your art on.
Operational Aspects of Print Sales
When you turn your artwork into digital prints for sale, it's essential to handle the operational side with care. This includes ensuring your art reaches the customer in top condition and maintaining the high quality that reflects your reputation.
Packaging and Shipping Artwork
Your digital art prints deserve the best protection during transit. You'll want to use sturdy mailing tubes or flat, reinforced cardboard envelopes for shipping.
For added safety, wrap prints in acid-free tissue paper to guard against moisture and fingerprints. When shipping larger prints or those on heavier substrates like wood, consider corner protectors and bubble wrap as part of your packaging protocol.
- Mailers: For small to medium prints
- Mailing tubes (rolled prints)
- Flat cardboard mailers (flat prints)
- Acid-free tissue paper
- Plastic sleeve
- Corner protectors (for larger prints)
- Stiff cardboard backing (to prevent bending)
The reliability of your shipping method directly affects customer satisfaction. Choose a shipping service that offers both tracking and insurance, so you and your customers can rest easy until the artwork is safely delivered.
Maintaining Quality Control
Maintaining control over the quality of your digital art prints is crucial. Start with a calibrated monitor for accurate color representation and ensure your digital files are high resolution to prevent pixelation.
Regularly inspect your printer's performance and the inks used to keep the colors vibrant and consistent. Opt for archival-quality inks and papers, especially if you're printing art meant to last a lifetime.
- Calibration: Check your monitor and printer regularly for color accuracy.
- High-resolution files
- Archival inks
- Acid-free papers
- Inspection: Examine prints under good lighting conditions to catch any issues before packaging.
Don't forget to factor in the feel of the paper or the grain of the wood—if you're printing on unconventional materials—since these can alter the art's overall impression.
Ultimately, quality control is about making sure what you envision is what your customers receive.
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Rich Kainu is the founder and a main contributor to Deal In Digital. He has over 12 years of experience in digital product creation, sales, and marketing as well as content creation strategies..