From Download To Print: My Top Tips For Printing Your Digital Download Art File

I get tons of questions about printing my digital art prints, so this post is meant to take out the guesswork of getting a digital print file PRINTED AND ON YOUR WALL ALREADY.

First of all I want to mention that these files are meant for home and personal use only. It would be illegal to put this image on anything other than paper, as well as use this image for any branding or professional purpose, i.e. your logo or in any of your online promotional content. Do not share these files, and do not print multiple times as gifts or in any other distributive way. I am a one-woman show, and my small business really depends on people having integrity with their use of these files.

I’m going to jump into the nitty gritty here, but the long and short is that these linework digital prints will look great pretty much anywhere you have them printed. The reason I only offer digital prints of my line drawings (and not my painted works) is about quality control. Works on color can have vastly different printed qualities, but the linework pieces really do look good on most papers and in most sizes—even on your home printer. They also look great at any size, including really large. That being said, for your general digital art printing needs that require color printing, my following (personal) assessment of “good enough” “decent” and “top notch” apply broadly. My main suggestions:

  • Take note of the aspect ratio, all my files are in 4:5 so will frame perfectly in an 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 30x40 etc.

  • With the black and white digital prints I offer, the thing that will make the most difference in making your print look high quality is the color and quality of paper. If possible, go for a “natural white” or neutral white over cool white.

  • I recommend choosing a matte paper that’s heavier like cardstock (at least 80 lb to 110 lb)

  • Avoid printers that do mainly photographic prints, as they print on photo paper with a sheen. Behind glass it’s not a huge deal (tbh I’ve seen framed prints on photographic paper look great), but for a fine art print it’s not something I’d personally recommend. This will include places like Costco, Walmart (or any big box photocenters) Snapfish, Shutterly, etc. Always look to see the paper specifications before you print.

  • When looking for a local or online printer I recommend searching for “Giclee Printing”, that term will often pull up printers that offers multiple fine art paper options. Professional printers with high quality paper options are usually a little more expensive when printing at smaller sizes, but are less expensive the larger you print and the more prints you make. At larger sizes, some fine art professional printers were actually cheaper than say Fedex or OfficeMax. If you go to a local printer you have the advantage of asking for a test print where you can check for the color and quality before you buy—they almost never make you pay for a print that you’re not happy with.

  • Printer recommendations:

Below are the 6 printers I sampled and my notes on quality and value:

The last thing I’d like to mention is that your print will only look as good as its frame. Matting your piece will take it to the next level, and is really worth it in my opinion. You can find precut mats at any craft store, and most people don’t realize how cheap it is to have a frame shop cut a custom mat. My personal preference for choosing a mat is selecting a white that is a slightly different shade than your artwork. If your print is neutral or natural white, go with a bright white mat, and if your print is bright white, go neutral with your mat. If you go with a printer that does a “deckled edge” then a float mount will look amazing, and is often how I frame my original works.

I’d love it if you added your own print suggestions in the comments, and let me know if this was helpful!

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