Art Prints: Behind the Scenes

At the end of the week, I’m preparing to launch three new art prints to the shop and want to take this chance to share the process of what goes on behind the scenes of making these! I love finding out how things are made, so even though the workflow is pretty simple, I hope you enjoy reading about my process!

Original Paintings

All of my prints start with an original painting. Even though my paintings don’t have a realistic style, I still look at reference photos. For all of these prints, I found reference photos of the different birds standing in various positions. Then when I was ready to paint, I lightly sketched the birds on the paper in the layout that I wanted. While the flamingos and chicks were just something fun to paint, the puffins were inspired by our trip to Iceland in 2017, where we spotted a few during a boat tour.

 Original watercolors on Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper

Original watercolors on Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper

Scan (or take a photo)

My method of digitizing has changed recently to scanning. I used to have a nice camera that I used to take high resolution photos to bring into photoshop. This worked really well and I posted about the process in this blog post. However, after our house was broken into, my camera was stolen and we have not replaced it with a new one.

I decided to purchase a refurbished Epson V550 Scanner that my husband found for a good price (about $130) and try that out instead and it’s been working great! Using it, I scan my paintings in at 600 dpi (for animals I want to make sure that I get all the details) as a .PDF file type.

Digitize

After scanning, I digitize the photo using Adobe Photoshop. In photoshop, I clean up the background first and isolate just the watercolor image that I want to print. 

Art-Print-Digitize.png

Test Printing + Color Calibration

 Comparing test prints with original painting

Comparing test prints with original painting

I create a test print file that has multiple copies on different layers within photoshop. This is where I begin to adjust the colors of each copy and make notes of what adjustments I am making. Once I am happy with the variations, I print a test print on my printer and take a look at how the colors are looking.

From there, I begin to make tweaks to the digital file. I found that from my screen to printer, I need to compensate for the printer output having more of a green cast than the monitor shows, so over time I’ve figured out how to adjust for this when doing the first run. Depending on each painting, it still takes a few runs of test prints to really get it right. I’ve found this to be the best workflow so far for me - I do not use any of the fancy color calibration tools - just my own eyes along with trial and error.

Printing

Once I’m happy with the test prints, I print out both sizes: 8x10 and 5x7 and make sure that it looks good at both scales. I look at it in natural light and artificial light and can get a bit obsessive about it. You can ask my husband - I’m always asking him to check the colors between my test prints and even at this final stage, he’ll say he can’t really see what I’m talking about but I’ll still go back and fiddle and test print some more!

For those of you that might want to know: I print on a Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer and I love it. The colors are beautiful and the images are clear. Although the quality also has as much to do with the paper that I print on as well. The Palo Duro Etching Paper from Red River Paper is great quality, heavy weight, and has has a beautiful texture to it that mimics watercolor paper.

 Watercolor Art Prints

Etsy Orders

When I get orders through my Etsy Shop, I print them fresh and allow some time for the ink to really settle into the paper and dry. Then I hand package them in clear sleeves along with one of my postcards, a handwritten note and get them shipped out!

I love the idea that so many of my prints have ended up in people’s homes, their children’s rooms and even their offices at work! I’m excited to release these flamingos, chicks and puffins at the end of the week.

Launch Celebration

I’ll be sending out a coupon code to my email list for a discount + special gift with your order for this launch (and all other future launches) so make sure to sign up if you’re planning on doing some shopping!

Thanks for reading!
Susan

*Disclosure: Some links contained in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. Your cost remains the same - thank you for the support!