The Benefits of Printing In-House vs Outsourcing, Setting Up Your Printer, and Scanning Your Artwork
When I first started looking into selling my artwork as print reproductions, I was so torn on whether I should print in-house or outsource them to a professional printing company. After exploring both options and dipping my toes into outsourcing, I discovered that creating all of my fine art prints at home provided me with the quality control and inventory management I needed when I was starting out.
If you’re hoping to create prints of your original artwork, this blog post covers the pros and cons of printing in-house versus outsourcing, what equipment you’ll need to invest in to create high-quality prints from home, how to create accurate scans of your original artwork, optimizing your printer settings, and more! While most of these tips will apply to any printer and scanner, I will mainly focus on using the Canon Pixma Pro printer and Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner.
Printing In-House Vs. Outsourcing
Your decision to print in-house versus outsource depends on the quantity you are hoping to make, your ability to store inventory, the upfront investment you're willing to make, and how you'd like to manage your unit costs.
- Professional-level quality
- Professional printers are capable of printing larger sizes, whereas you’ll tend to be more limited with a home printer
- You don’t have to invest in a tech setup if you don’t already own a printer and scanner
- Professional printers may offer a larger selection of paper options than what you is commercially available
- Order quantity minimums can be high, which can leave you with unsold inventory
- If you’re ordering low quantities, your unit cost will likely be high
- You'll have to store inventory
- It can be difficult to estimate how many products you need to order, especially if you’re first starting out
- Unless you get a hard copy proof before production, you risk not being 100% satisfied with the colours, quality, or any little mistakes
- You can personally check the quality of each print to ensure it is true to colour and free of mistakes or imperfections
- You can make each print to order, which means you don’t have to store large amounts of inventory or estimate how many you need to have in stock (plus, you can personalize prints or create custom prints if you wish!)
- Can often have a lower unit cost
- A high-quality printer and scanner can be a large upfront investment
- You’ll need to factor in the cost of replacing your ink cartridges
- Home printers are often limited in the size you can print, with most going up to 13x19 inches
- Home scanners can also be limited in the size of the artwork you can scan
Equipment You'll Need
The Best Printer for Creating Fine Art Prints: Canon Pixma Pro-100
There are many high-quality printers out there, but when you’re printing artwork, it makes a big difference to invest in a professional-quality Inkjet printer built for creating art and photo reproductions. After doing a lot of research into the best printers for creating art prints, I ended up investing in the Canon Pixma Pro-100 and absolutely love it. I'm so impressed by its quality and how accurate, vibrant, and clear the colours and fine details are.
Printing up to 13 x 19 inches, I really appreciate how many different paper sizes and mediums that are built into the settings. It makes it so easy to print on numerous different sizes and paper types, which helps you optimize your artwork for different mediums to ensure its colours remain vibrant and clear.
Scanning Your Artwork with the Epson Perfection V600
The foundation of printing high-quality artwork is creating a high-quality scan of your original work. With the ability to go up to 6400x9600 dpi, the Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner is SO worth the investment. Not only does it capture accurate images, but it also maintains the look and feel of the original artwork. It captures every little detail down to each brush stroke, making your final prints have the look and feel of an original painting.
The last tool you will need for your setup is a paper cutter. Most local art stores carry these: just make sure that its dimensions are large enough to accommodate the size of your paper and the size of the prints you want to create.
If you want to create prints at home but cannot make the investment in a printer and scanner right now, there are plenty of other options that can make this possible! I wasn’t able to invest in a tech setup when I first started and there are so many maker spaces, local libraries, and Universities that have equipment there for you to make use of.
Finding the Perfect Paper
One thing I made the mistake of doing when I first started creating prints was not using high-quality paper suited to inkjet printing. The colours came out looking blurry and dull, and only after researching why did I realize it was because of the paper I was using.
Many printer companies manufacture papers that are specifically suited to their printers (and also happen to work well for other printers as well). If you’re unsure, this can be a great starting point for figuring out what papers you like and which ones work best for your artwork and feel you’re going for. When you’re finding paper, look for photo papers and/or fine art inkjet papers that are acid and lignin-free (this makes them age-resistant and prevents them from yellowing over time).
If you can, try to look for papers made from post-consumer waste products or sustainable materials to make your prints gentler on the planet!
How to Scan Your Artwork
You may need to play a little bit with your scanner’s settings to create the best reproductions of your work, but be sure to set your scanning quality to high. Your minimum resolution for printing should be 300 dpi, but I normally set it to 600.
On your scanner, also explore your advanced settings to see if any of them suit what you're trying to achieve. I turn on dust removal to “middle,” which is so helpful in removing little imperfections that find themselves on my paper.
Setting Up Your File For Printing
After you have your scan prepared, you’ll want to import it into a design software like Photoshop, Canva, or Procreate. The program you use depends on your preference and area of expertise, but this step will help you set up your artwork for printing!
First, you’ll want to remove the background for a cleaner print. After that, you can play with the temperature of your illustration (I usually increase the warmth), clean up any wobbly lines, remove a paint splatter here and there, and adjust the contrast until I'm happy with how it looks. For this step, I normally use Procreate because I can remove the background easily and touch up any spots with specialized brushes that mimic the look of the original painting.
Printing Your Fine Art Print
When printing your artwork, you want to make sure your settings are optimized for the paper you’re printing on and the colours of your artwork for the best results. First of all, make sure your quality is set to high and choose the size of the paper you’re printing on.
When it comes to creating a high-quality print, make sure you choose the media you’re printing on, since this will affect how your image is printed, whether you’re printing on matte, gloss, etc.
The Canon Pixma Pro-100 also enables you to adjust the level of contrast, intensity, and colours, which can be a helpful tool in creating a print that is more vibrant, sharp, and true to colour. I usually adjust the contrast slightly higher to increase the overall clarity of the piece and up the yellow tones because I work with a lot of warmer colours. This may take a little bit of trial and error, but start by doing a test print and go from there!
Correcting Ink Splotches
I thought I would add this here because this tiny ink eraser is truly one of my most used tools for creating art prints at home! It erases little ink splotches that can sometimes occur during printing, and while it doesn’t always get 100% of mistakes, it's perfect for prints that come out with a small ink splotch and I don't want to waste the entire print.
Packaging Your Fine ArtPrint
Once you have your print ready, you’ll want to think about packaging it in a way that protects it from dust and damage. To prevent your page from bending, I like to use a sturdy recycled backing board. Then, I slip it into a protective sleeve to prevent water damage and dust.
If you’re hoping to create fine art prints from home, I hope this blog post was a helpful guide! If you’d like to learn more about the eco-friendly papers and packaging materials I use to create fine art prints and other products, I am releasing an e-book this fall with a full list of the suppliers I use! You can sign up for the waitlist here.