Want to learn how to make art prints for Etsy or to sell at your local craft fair? 

When it comes to selling your artwork, you don’t have to part with the original. Whether you paint, draw, print, or create mixed media artwork, you can potentially make more money by turning your artwork into prints or adapting them for posters, cards, or other items. Here’s how to make art prints at home. 

How to Turn Artwork Into Prints

Cori Jaye Elston
Artist Cori Jaye Elston with the equipment necessary for how to make art prints at home.

Follow these steps to learn how to make art prints to sell

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need the following equipment and tools to learn how to make prints of your art:

  • A scanner
  • High-quality printer (optional)
  • Adobe Photoshop 
  • Acid-free paper (matte or gloss)

If you don’t have a scanner or don’t want to purchase a new one, you can pick one up second-hand at an affordable price. Keep in mind, though, that some cheaper scanners are unable to pick up on certain colors and shades, such as fluorescents. If you use a wide color range in your art, or know you will be making prints again and again, it’s worth investing in a good scanner. 

Similarly, if you don’t have a high-quality printer at home, you can use a local print shop or an online printing service. Contact the shop in advance to find out the specs you need to produce the best prints with their printers. They can also advise you on the best types of paper for your needs.

If you don’t currently have Photoshop on your laptop or tablet, you can download a free trial to get you started. When learning how to make art prints from originals, using free software is fine, but if you end up doing this a lot, you’ll probably need to invest in the full program. Knowing the fundamentals of Photoshop will be broadly useful throughout your artistic career, beyond learning how to make art prints from originals, so if you’re not already proficient, take an introductory course to get up to speed.

Step 2: Prep Your Artwork and Scanner

scan artwork
Clean your artwork and scanner before you begin scanning.

Before scanning, make sure your artwork is clean and dry. Give your artwork the time it needs to settle into the paper. Also make sure it’s free of any pencil marks, eraser residue, or smudges that you don’t want to be reproduced.

Wipe your scanner with a soft cloth and make sure there’s no fluff or residue from previous jobs on the scanner.

Step 3: Connect the Scanner to Your Laptop and Scan the Artwork

scanned artwork
Ensure your artwork is lined up on the scanner properly.

Connect your scanner to your laptop or tablet and import your scanned images into Photoshop.

An important point to keep in mind is the DPI (dots per image) size of your scan. Higher DPIs create a better, higher resolution in the final prints. Artist Cori Jaye Elston recommends setting the DPI to no less than 300 for a standard print. Anything lower and you’ll end up with a visibly pixelated print.

When scanning, make sure the top, bottom, and sides of the artwork line up on the scanner perfectly. This is especially important if your artwork is too large to fit in the scanner and you need to scan it in several batches.

At this point in the process, you can even edit out parts of the original artwork that you don’t like, so they don’t show up on the prints. For example, perhaps you smudged a line of black ink. No problem when working in Photoshop!

If you’re scanning in batches, you’ll then need to “stitch” the pieces together in Photoshop. If you’re not already familiar with how to do this, consult a good tutorial, such as Cori Jaye Elston’s or Evan Neidich’s.

Step 4: Print a Test Proof

print matching
Print a proof to examine how well the print matches the original artwork.

Once everything is looking good in Photoshop, print a test proof onto acid-free archival paper. The colors may look different on the page as they do on the screen, or compared to the original. You can adjust the color and contrast in Photoshop, if necessary. Don’t print a whole batch of prints without doing a proof first, or you risk wasting a lot of expensive ink and paper.

What Paper Is Best for Art Prints?

There are two things to keep in mind when considering the best paper for art prints: the paper or other surface that you create the original artwork on, and the paper you print onto. 

If you’re a graphic designer or draw in pencil or pen, you will probably already be creating artwork on a scannable surface, but if you’re a painter or multi-media artist, you might not be. If, before creating the original artwork, you know you’ll want to scan it and turn it into a print later, it’s a good idea to use canvas paper as it is flat and easier to scan. Stretched canvases can also be scanned, but they’re a little trickier to perfect. When you’re just learning how to make prints of art, opt for the simplest method possible until you’re familiar with the process.

As for the paper you print onto, archival, acid-free paper is best. This paper will last longer and keep your artwork looking as it’s meant to, even if it’s framed and gathering dust and light.

Whether you opt for matte or gloss paper is up to your preferences and the requirements of the artwork. Matte paper tends to absorb and diffuse pigments more than gloss paper, so if you are printing an artwork with fine details, you may prefer the final look on gloss. Gloss paper doesn’t have to be super-shiny; you can get semi-gloss, too.

What Is the Best Way to Sell Art Prints?

You’re presumably not learning how to make prints of art just for your own use! You want to sell your art, right?

Once upon a time, taking your art prints down to local craft markets or having them displayed in art galleries and shops was the only way of being able to make money from them. While you can still do this, and it’s a good way to gain local fans and exposure for your art, you can also widen your reach by selling online. You can do this through your own social media accounts if you set up a business or professional account, and from third-party platforms.

Once you’ve learned how to make art prints to sell, check out these online platforms. Some of them have print-on-demand services.