Fine Art Prints
It sounds complicated but it's really pretty easy, bring in your original print or drawing and we will scan or digitize it. We use two methods, if the image is smaller than 20” x 30” we use a flat-bed scanner where the image is laid down on a piece of glass and is converted into a series of microscopic dots. If the image is larger we use a photo studio with a 4 x 5 camera mounted on rails. Instead of film we use a scanning back which goes in place of the film and that also converts your image to microscopic dots. It is those tiny dots that a computer can manipulate and we can print.
The next stage you pick the paper or canvas you prefer for your print, we have 3 or 4 kinds of canvas and over 20 paper choices from smooth “hot press” style to rougher “cold press” style.
We normally make the scan and then make a small proof for color. We do not necessarily strive to make an exact facsimile of the original but more a great print that the customer love, during this process you can make adjustments to the image. Once the proof is approved we can start making prints which can be the same size, bigger or smaller than the original. Some customers make a big or open edition of small prints and then a limited edition for bigger prints. We are “print-on-demand” so you do not have to make many prints at one time but can order them as you sell them. We send a copy of the image to the customer and keep the image file in our archives for future prints. We make a note of the paper and printer used so re-prints will always exactly match.
We can covert film based media including negatives, transparencies and photographic prints to digital files using our Hasselblad Imacon Virtual Drum scanner. With this scanner the film is help by a magnetic holder so that nothing is between the scanning element and the film. This makes for the best scans available. From these scans we can make large format prints.
We love digital, a digital image shot with a steady hand and good light can be enlarged many times and normally the color is spot on. We would print the file in the same color space as the camera for the absolute best results.
Can I use my own digital camera to photograph my artwork
Digital cameras are great but not always so great as photographing artwork. But if you want to give it a go use as much light as you can and put the camera on a tripod. For smaller work they sometimes work out fine. A lot depends on the number of pixels (Mpix) the camera has and the available light. In our studio we use 2 banks of 900 W Northlight HID lights and a 144 MPix Betterlight Scanning back camera. Our lower end solution uses a Nikon 36 Mpix camera.
It depends on the artwork and your scanner, but try it and send us the file and we can check it out. Scanner quality is determined by how much detail can be captured in the shadow area of the image. The better the scanner the more detail it will capture. This is not a function of dpi as even the cheapest scanners claim 4,800 dpi or more. Epson make a pretty decent scanners, the V700 and V800 series which costs between $700 and $950 are very good. For the technical our in-house scanner is a large format scanner with a DMAX of 4.0 and we can scan up to around 20” x 30” on it.
The size of an Instagram image is 640 x 640 pixels. The lowest dpi of an image we normally recommend is 180 dpi so in theory that would give you an image of 3.55” x 3.55”. BUT having said that we have enlarged Instagram images to over 20” x 20” and they looked good. The answer is in the image. If you want to know, send us the file and we will check it out and see how big it can go and still look good.
Sadly it’s not so easy. First you have to have a monitor that is capable of displaying the range of color that we can print. They are usually specified as monitor’s that can display 100% of Adobe RGB 1998 and they cost anywhere from $600 to $2,500. Then you need a device that will calibrate your monitor correctly and then you need to be in a space with constant light and no bright colors. Once you have done all of that you will get an approximation of the print assuming you are using a glossy or lustre paper. If you are printing on a matte fine art paper paper it’s going to be off unless you look at it using a preview with the correct ICC profile. Most consumer monitors (including Apples) are designed to look good with Video so they are much brighter.
Most of our customers send us a file, we look at it, sometimes make an adjustment (yes we use the fancy monitors and have them calibrated) and make a proof. The proof is king, if you are unsatisfied with the proof we can adjust it until it looks the way you want it but we can’t print gold, silver or flouresecents!
Color Space - There is a lot of argument over what is the best color space to work in. Adobe RGB 1998 is Adobe's version of Red Green and Blue color space and arguably has a wider color space than sRGB. BUT the most important thing to remember is to print the the colorspace that the file comes from. If you camera uses sRGB then use sRGB if your camera can use Adobe RGB then use that. Problems come when converting files from one space to another. If you are using Photoshop make sure that your color setting are set to prompt you when you open a file. This screen capture will show how to set the color settings so that files are not changed when opening.
Photoshop Alternatives (W = Windows M = Mac)
Of course Adobe Photoshop is the most widely used program but there are some much cheaper alternatives. Most of these programs have trial versions that you can download and use for up to a month free so try before you buy!
CorelPaintshop Pro W - <$100 a fully featured image-editing program from the leader in Windows graphics programs which has pretty much all of the features of Photoshop for a fraction of the price.
Corel AfterShot Pro W <$100 similar to Lightroom, another workflow program with some image editing features
Adobe Lightroom W/M - <$200 an image workflow management programs with many slick features. Used by a lot of professionals
Adobe Elements W/M - <$100 an entry level image editing program that is good and easy to use and learn.
Apple iPhoto M - <$20 another entry level program with decent features but only runs on OS10.9 or later. For $15 it's worth the money just to try it.
You can send JPEG, TIF or PSD files in 8 bit or 16 bit RGB sized to the size you want to print at 240 or 180 dpi. If you want a white matte or white space around the image that should be included in the file (see below). You can also send us EPS, PDF, AI, CDR, in fact pretty much any kind of file that exists and also in any size and any dpi you want but this may be subject to a small surcharge for setting up the file.
Choosing full bleed versus having a matte around an image depends on how you want to have the image framed or presented.
Full bleed refers to where an image bleeds off the edge of the paper and a matte or white space around the image refers to the amount of white space around an image either inside or outside the image.
Full Bleed ImageImage Size 16 x 20Paper size 16 x 20 Print with a 2" matte i(nside)Image size 12 x 16Paper size 16 x 20Print with 1" matte outsideImage size 16 x 20Paper size 18 x 22
If you are using Photoshop use the “Canvas Size” command, either use it with “relative” unchecked and add the amount of white space you need to to print size i.e. if the print is 8 x 10 and you want 1” white space all around make the “canvas size” 10 x 12. Or if you have the “relative” checked then add the total amount of white space needed so for 1” all around you would add 2”.
Photoshop costs a lot! are there cheaper alternatives?
Saving and opening a file in EPS or format
If you are using Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or any other program that can save a file as an EPS open the file in Photoshop and you will get a dialogue box. Set the Crop to Trim Box and the width to you desired size if it not the same if the measurements palette, set the DPI to 240 and the Mode to RGB.
Most software programs including Abobe InDesign and Illustrator, QuarkXpress, CorelDraw and many other vector based programs allo you to save in EPS format. If you are in Photoshop and you open an EPS file you will get a dialogue box that asks Crop To:? and for Height, Width, dpi and color mode. Generally you would want to use Trim Box and choose the size (height or width only and make sure Constrain Proportions is checked) the dpi should be 240 (or 180 for a really big file) and the mode should be RGB. This also works for PDF files but there may be more than one page.
Once the file is open look at is at 100% magnification (actual size) and check that it looks OK.