This step by step guide will help you to make quality art prints that resemble the colours of your original artwork!
Before I start, I just want to say – nothing beats experiencing artwork in the flesh but these tips will help you to create art prints, as close as you can to the original artwork. BTW if this all seems a little beyond you, then just contact me and send me the image file and I’ll prepare your artwork for you – for a small fee of course!
To begin with make sure you are the copyright owner or have permission to make copies of the chosen art.
Capturing the artwork
Dust the artwork off, making sure it’s free from any tiny fibres and hairs.
Scan on a high resolution scanner at 300 dpi or photograph the painting with the highest resolution in good even lighting conditions, with no shadows, glare or flash. I usually place the artwork on the floor outside and hold the camera lens directly above it. Zoom in slightly to avoid any wide angled lens. Make sure the image is square in the frame of the camera, not skewed. Make sure the artwork takes up the maximum space within the camera frame.
Digitise the image
Import the file onto a computer, use image manipulating software like photoshop. Crop the background out of the image, zoom into make sure you get an accurate crop all round the image. You could think about cropping the image as a 4 x 3 aspect ratio, so it fits in a standard size frame. Enlarge the image by 200% and go through every square inch of it to get rid of blemishes or in my case, fine cat hairs! Use the clone stamp tool to do this.
Use a calibrated computer screen if possible, (a screen that resembles the colours that will be printed), because different screens give various colour grades and will look different to the colours of your final art print.
RGB and CMYK colour profiles
RGB = Red, Green, Blue
CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black
For best results, I have found it is best to put the image in CMYK mode before doing any colour manipulations. Go into your colour modes and do a Save As, save as an RGB file and also as a CMYK version now. The colours will be much flatter and duller on the CMYK version as you begin to manipulate the colours of your image. To counteract this, you can use selective colour in the drop down menu under Image / adjustments to add more magenta, yellow and cyan.
Use the levels tool and click the white sample picker and sample the white areas of your image, to make the whites really white. You can generally play around with the contrast at this point too, to get your blacks black.
Now you may be able to see the subtle difference with the CMYK and RGB colour profiles.
If you have large areas of white, it is good practise to make a mask layer and then zoom in really deep and clean up the white areas with a brush tool.
Archiving your files
Go into image size and save as 300 dpi and save as a jpg. I usually keep a photoshop file as well. Title your files with the title of the artwork and colour mode and place in a folder. I archive my artwork folders in the year the art was made. It is good practise to photograph and archive all your artwork as you go along, because you never know when someone may want to print your work in a book or use it on a poster. Also as the creator / author, you automatically retain the copyright, even after you have sold the original, you retain the right to make and sell your own art prints.
Printers and papers
Find yourself a local print shop – if it has a 6 colour printer then present them with the RGB file. if they have a 4 colour printer, then present them with a CMYK file. Choose a weighted paper, about 200g. For the best quality art prints, choose a glassy paper for photography and oils and maybe even a rough finish for watercolours and other matt finished artwork. Get a test done to see how the colours come out, go back to the computer and manipulate your colours if you are not happy with them or ask the printers if they can tweak the contrast on the printer. Make sure they retain the aspect ratio of the final art print, so it is not stretched in any direction.
Once you are happy with the way your digital file prints, you can then happily use online printers or print on demand services for your online shop.
Print in standard sizes, like A4, A3 so it’s easy for framing.