This guide on how to print digital art will help you produce an art print with the highest quality results.
You’ve spent hours dedicated to perfecting a stunning digital artwork you are going to exhibit. You don’t want to bodge this up.
The printing needs to reflect the high standard of your artwork and is an integral part of the process.
Dive in to learn how to achieve the best results with important tips on DPI, resolution, paper, and color quality.
Table of Contents
7 Important Factors for Getting High-Quality Digital Art Prints
Printing art might sound like it should be a quick and simple process but creating high-quality digital art prints involves more than a quick click to print.
Having a though understanding of pixels, resolution, dpi, and color management will set you on the path to printing with high-end results.
Ppi stands for pixels per inch. The image’s PPI is decided and set at the start of the design process when you create a blank canvas.
The word pixel comes from the term pixel element and it is the unit (square or round) that makes up the image.
Printing virtually for the internet and physically for print are two completely different scenarios and require a different process.
To print digital artwork on the Internet only a low ppi of 72 is required. This is optimal for the Internet due to screen resolution.
The same ppi won’t cut it for physical printing as the image will be pixelated.
Remember when you tried to print digital downloads from the web and the result was a pixelated blur?
This will happen again when you print an enlarged image with a low resolution of 72 PPI. To print fine art prints the resolution needs to be a high pixel rate of 300 ppi.
If you have mistakenly set the ppi of your artwork to 72 it is possible to resize the image and increase the ppi but the results will not be perfect.
Resolution indicates the number of pixels per square inch on printed paper.
To calculate the resolution of your artwork simply multiply the image size by its ppi.
For example, if you have 300 ppi and the image size is 11 x 14 inches the resolution will be 3300 x 4200.
The resolution of your work will affect the resulting sharpness of the final print and will define how large the print size can be – see how to choose photo resolution for print.
When starting new projects always bear in mind how large you intend to print the image and set the resolution from the start accordingly.
DPI stands for dots per inch and relates to the dots of ink printed per inch of an image.
The DPI is specific to the resolution of the printer and how it prints, not to the image – note the difference between DPI vs PPI.
A DPI of 300 is standard printing practice and results in a clearer image.
4. Raster vs Vector
Raster images are made up of pixels. When you zoom in on a pixel-based image you will eventually be able to zoom in close enough to see the individual pixel units which make up the picture.
Vector images are made up of mathematical equations. When you zoom in or out of a vector file the equation will calculate how the image should look.
A vector file will retain its image integrity when scaled up and down. Making them ideal for images that need to be printed as both business cards and billboards.
The size of your printed work will be restricted by the resolution of the digital image.
At the start of the design process, you will need to factor in the size you want the final printed art piece to be.
When you decide what size you wish to print the final piece create the digital canvas to accommodate these specifications.
At this stage of the game, you won’t be able to change the canvas dimensions easily without altering the entire composition and layout of the art piece.
If you want to add a colored border around the print you can accommodate this by increasing the size of the print.
Maintaining color integrity is an integral part of the printing process. Starting with the screen design until the final physical print.
Overlook this step and the image displayed on your computer screen will differ immensely from the printed version.
To keep precise consistent colors from screen to print it is important to understand color profile.
A color profile is the software program or printer data that defines the color of your design.
RGB – Red, Blue, and Green, are the design colors optimal for printing to digital. This is because RGB colors are the colors produced by screens.
CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key, is the color profile used by printers. CMYK produces the most precise results for the entire spectrum of colors.
When printing pick a printer with ink that suits your project.
Pigment-based inks are best for color life span although the colors won’t be as vivid as dye-based prints.
Dye-based inks excel in enhancing the brightness of colors but don’t have the same longevity as pigment-based inks.
The best option for paper would be to use coated paper to stop color fading.
Coated paper retains the ink color which cannot penetrate too deeply due to the coating. This type of paper is available in matte paper, semi-matte, or glossy paper – note the differences between matte vs glossy and glossy vs lustre.
When framing a digital print it is advisable not to use glossy paper. Instead, use a matte finish that doesn’t reflect.
To print a poster use paper with a thickness of 250 gsm. This will give it flexibility plus added durability.
Use 500 gsm for prints intended for exhibition in a gallery display. This will lend more durability with less flexibility.
But remember don’t be restricted by conventions if you are after a unique look for your digital work of art.
You can print on fine art paper if this improves your artistic vision, canvas, bark, or anything that can fit in a printer.
How to Print Digital Artwork at Home
If you have a home photo printer don’t get too excited as not all printers are created equally. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Home printers are usually designed to serve a functional purpose rather than to pump out high-quality art prints.
The quality of the printed art will be affected by the caliber of the home printer.
If you plan to print photo art at home regularly then it is worth considering investing in a professional printer or even a large format photo printer.
Here are some points to consider when choosing a home printer.
Laser printers work with toner powder which produces duller images and is more suited to printing text, thus popular in offices.
An inkjet printer uses ink droplets emitted from a nozzle and will produce richer color results. This makes this printer the best option for printing images at home.
Remember the size of the print will be restricted when you use a home printer. Most commonly to A4 but you can print A3 size.
The thickness of the print paper will also be restricted. Not all printers can process thick paper resulting in a clogged printer.
There are some advantages to owning a high-caliber home printer. You will be able to calibrate your software editing program with the printer so the preset color profile creates consistent precision color results.
How to Print Digital Art from Etsy
More and more digital artworks are sold on Etsy exploding in an ever-expanding digitalized art market.
And there is a good reason for this. Etsy is fantastically convenient one can shop for art that was made all around the world and download it in the convenience of your home to print.
When you buy a digital artwork from an Etsy seller you will be sent a downloadable PDF digital file.
Usually, the Etsy seller will be aware of printing requirements so check them before you print.
Check the resolution of the piece so you know how large you can print the image before it becomes pixelated.
Ensure the color profile of the print is compatible with the printer you are using.
If you plan to frame the printed Etsy work use matte paper when printing rather than gloss paper.
You can print the Etsy digital files from your home printer or take them to your local print shop to be printed.
If you want a high-quality result it would be best to take the Etsy file to a professional to be printed.
How to Print Digital Art to Sell
When you intend to sell your digital artwork the recommendation would be to take it to a professional printer to print.
If you are selling artwork you don’t want the colors to fade, or the paper to crumble, so invest in quality supplies.
A professional printer is an expert in the trade and will ensure that the print result will be superior.
However, if you plan to print regularly it could be worth investing in a professional home printer. It will save you both money and travel time.
How to Print Digital Art on Canvas
Printing digital works of art on canvas is a neat trick to give the digital work the illusion of being hand-painted.
The results are striking adding texture and dimension to a flat piece.
You will need to use an inkjet printer, not a laser printer when printing on canvas to achieve quality color definition.
Check that the printer can handle a dense canvas and you won’t end up struggling to unjam the canvas from the printer.
Typically printers can handle up to 300 gsm and a gloss satin canvas is 350 gsm. Other canvas types can be denser.
When printing on canvas dial up the inkjet quality to high resolution for higher-quality results.
Canvas comes in a variety of different sizes, qualities, and textures. UV-resistant canvas has longevity whereas gloss canvas archives high-quality color results.
When you have printed the digital artwork onto the canvas you can now tack it to a frame. Neat!
How to Print Digital Art at Staples
Printing digital works of art at Staples is swift and easy it is a copy shop that is focused on the customer getting more done every day.
You can print in black and white or in color.
50 MB is the largest file size and Staples recommends not printing more than 40 files in one batch.
For custom poster printing you can choose from 12 x 18, 18 x 24, 24 x 36 up to 36 x 48 – any standard picture frame size.
The paper is matte or glossy paper, which is highly suitable for digital art.
You can upload your image to the cloud or email it in and Staples will print the art for you to your specifications.
Alternatively, you can bring in a USB and print it directly from Staples printers yourself. Perfect!
FAQs about printing digital art
What is the best medium to print digital art on?
The best medium to print digital artwork on can depend on the desired aesthetic and usage of the print, but common options include high-quality paper, canvas, or metal.
Are digital art prints profitable?
Yes, digital prints can be profitable, especially if the artist has a strong following or the art is part of a limited edition print run.
Can you print digital art on photo paper?
Yes, you can print digital artwork on photo paper. It can give your artwork a glossy or matte finish, depending on the type of photo paper you use.
Is JPEG or PNG better for printing digital art?
JPEG is typically better for printing digital works of art because it supports a full spectrum of colors, although PNG can offer higher quality for simple images with fewer colors.
How do you make digital art look like it’s on paper?
To make digital artwork look like it’s on paper, you can use a texture overlay in your digital art software, or print your digital art on textured paper.
What DPI should I print art at?
Generally, you should print art at a minimum of 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch) for high-quality prints.
Is digital art as valuable as traditional art?
The value of digital art can be just as high as traditional art, especially with the rise of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) which can authenticate and track the ownership and value of digital artworks.