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How to digitise your art to sell prints on demand

art prints
Image by katemangostar on Freepik

Digitising original artwork to sell giclée prints on demand is a meticulous process that requires attention to detail, precision, and the right equipment. Giclée prints are known for their high quality and are often indistinguishable from the original artwork, making them a popular choice for artists looking to sell reproductions of their work. This article will guide you through the best practices for digitising your art to ensure that your giclée prints meet the highest reproduction standards.

Understanding Giclée Printing

Giclée printing is a type of inkjet printing meant to produce items of high quality and longevity. It involves spraying microscopic dots of pigment-based ink onto high-quality paper or canvas. This method is favoured for its ability to replicate the colours and details of the original artwork accurately.

Preparing Your Artwork for Scanning

Before scanning, ensure your artwork is clean and free of dust or smudges. Any imperfections can be magnified during the scanning process. If your artwork is textured, be cautious when cleaning to avoid damage.

Choosing the Right Scanner

The choice of scanner is crucial. A high-resolution scanner is necessary to capture the fine details of your artwork. For the best possible reproduction, you should use a professional, hardware colour-calibrated flatbed scanner. The Epson Perfection V550 Photo is an example of a scanner that can handle high DPI (dots per inch) scanning, which is essential for capturing detail. If you need a larger scanner for A3 artwork, these can cost more than £4000, so you may want to use a professional service that specialises in art scanning.

Scanning Resolution

The resolution at which you scan your artwork is essential. For giclée prints, a high DPI is necessary. While some scanners can scan up to 28000 DPI, a resolution of 1200 DPI is typically sufficient for most artwork, allowing for larger-size reproductions if needed. 300 to 600 DPI may be adequate for smaller pieces or less detail-intensive work.

Colour Management

Colour accuracy is paramount in giclée printing. Your scanner should be fully colour-managed to ensure the colours of your prints match the original artwork. Professional services such as Point101 offer a colour-matching service that includes full-colour balance and printed proofs for client approval, ensuring the colours are as close to the original as possible.

Proofing Process

Proofing is an essential step in the digitisation process. It involves printing a sample of your work on your chosen paper to see how the final prints will look. This step allows you to make any necessary adjustments to colour balance and other settings before the final print run. It’s important to proof on paper such as Hahnemühle, which is often used for high-quality prints.

Editing Scanned Artwork

Once your artwork is scanned, editing is usually required to adjust colours, remove stray marks, and enhance details. Software like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP can be used for this purpose. Use adjustment layers in Photoshop to make non-destructive edits and adjust curves to fine-tune the brightness and contrast of your image.

File Formats and Storage

After scanning and editing your artwork, save the files in a format that preserves the quality, such as TIFF or PSD. These formats do not compress your image, which can lead to a loss of detail. Ensure you have adequate storage space, as high-resolution images can have huge file sizes.

Choosing the Right Paper

The paper you choose for your giclée prints can affect the final product’s look and feel. You could use 250+gsm Professional Photo paper or a higher-end 310gsm Giclée Fine Art paper with Gallery Etching. The paper’s texture and weight should complement the artwork.

Printing On-Demand

Once your digital files are prepared, you can offer giclée printing on demand. This means you only print copies as ordered, reducing the need for inventory and allowing for a more sustainable business model. You can print art reproductions yourself, but you may want to concentrate on making art and leave the printing to professional services such as Printify for lower-end posters or Point101 for high-end giclee printing.

Marketing Your Giclée Prints

With your digital files ready and a printing process in place, you can begin marketing your giclée prints. Create a website or use online marketplaces to reach potential buyers. High-quality images of your prints and detailed descriptions will help customers understand the value of your work. Want to know more about marketing your prints? This Guardian article, written by experts, applies to reproductions as well!


Digitizing your original artwork for giclée printing is a process that combines art with technology. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your reproductions are as close to the original as possible, satisfying both you as the artist and your customers. Remember to invest in a good scanner, manage colours carefully, proof your work, and choose the right paper to achieve the best results. With the right approach, you can successfully sell giclée prints on demand, providing art lovers with high-quality reproductions of your original work.

This Wikipedia article provides more information on giclee prints and their history.

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