Switching your print on demand supplier? Get in touch with us here

1. What is digital art printing?

How to print digital art: Techniques & tips

In our rapidly digitizing world, more artists are choosing to create their artwork digitally. As an artist, being able to successfully transition your digital works into physical prints could mean reaching a broader audience, enhancing your portfolio, or even turning your creativity into tangible products. 

But making that transition can be tricky.

This guide will give you a comprehensive lowdown on reproducing your digitally crafted expressions with high fidelity, selecting the right methods, materials, and much more!

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Understand the fundamentals of preparing digital files to print digital downloads that maintain color integrity and achieve high-quality prints.

  • Learn about various printing techniques used for fine art printing, such as DTG, Giclée, screen, and laser and inkjet printing, to choose the best method for your print artwork.

  • Understand the importance of selecting the right printing materials, from glossy paper types and matte paper to inks, to enhance the longevity and appearance of your prints.

  • Equip yourself with useful tips for selling your printed digital art, increasing the value of your creations, and smoothly entering the art print market.

  • Master the step-by-step process of printing digital art either independently or with the help of a print on demand partner like Gelato.

What is digital art printing?

Printing digital artwork

Digital art printing is a process of transferring digitally created designs and illustrations onto physical surfaces. This method allows artists to reproduce and distribute their work widely, retaining the essence of the original creation. From art reproductions for commercial sales to personal keepsakes, digital fine art prints have opened up a new world of opportunities for artists.

Importance of choosing the right printing technique

Choosing the correct printing techniques at your local print shop or online for your digital prints is critical. Here are some reasons why: 

  • Preserved quality: An ideal method will accurately capture the intricate details, colors, and dimensions of the original artwork, ensuring that none of its radiance is lost in the professional print outcome.

  • Longevity: Printing techniques at your local printer, particularly those involving the type of ink and substrate used, can significantly affect the lifespan of your prints. Pigment-based inks or non-acidic papers, for instance, are known for their enhanced durability.

  • Cost-effective: The right printing technique can also be cost-effective, particularly if you anticipate printing in larger volumes. Options like professional printing services can offer both quality and profitability.

Understanding different printing techniques

Array of printed techniques

Join us as we explore different techniques, their merits, and the best scenarios for utilizing them for optimal results. 

1. Direct to garment (DTG) printing

Direct-to-garment printing, also known as DTG printing, is a method that uses specialized or modified inkjet technology to print directly onto textiles and garments. 

Here's what you need to know to leverage the power of DTG: 

  • Precision: DTG excels in reproducing detailed designs, making it perfect for digital artworks filled with intricate details. The more complicated your design, the more you should consider DTG.

  • Color vibrancy: DTG uses water-based inks that soak right into the fabric, resulting in vibrant, realistic colors that feel amazing to touch.

  • No color limitations: Unlike other printing techniques, DTG allows for unlimited color usage and does not result in extra charges per color. This attribute makes it an ideal choice for digital art rich in diverse, bold colors.

  • Quick turnaround: The process is relatively faster than traditional printing techniques like screen printing, making DTG an excellent option for quicker results.

  • Low volume flexibility: DTG is a cost-effective printing method for small quantities as it doesn't require a minimum order amount. 

2. Giclée printing

Giclée printing is a popular choice for fine art reproductions, and it relies on inkjet technology to create highly detailed, colorful, and long-lasting prints. Here are its benefits:

  • Quality: Giclée printing creates prints with a higher resolution than traditional printing methods, resulting in richer, more vibrant colors.

  • Longevity: Giclée prints are known for their outstanding longevity, often outlasting their creators. This is due to the use of archival-quality inks and materials in the process.

  • Flexibility: Unlike tedious traditional techniques, giclée accommodates a variety of mediums such as canvas, fine art paper, and photo paper, catering to an artist's unique preferences.

  • Reproduction: Giclée is an excellent option for creating multiple copies of the same artwork. This preserves the original piece and offers digital artists an opportunity to sell their art in limited or open editions.

3. Screen printing

There's no denying the vibrant prints that can be achieved with screen printing. But why should you consider screen printing? Let's delve into its unique advantages: 

  • Outstanding color vibrancy: Screen printing utilizes thick ink, which results in vividly bright colors even on darker surfaces. It’s one of the top decisions when seeking prints that pop.

  • Durability: The technique produces durable and long-lasting results. The heat-dried inks used in screen printing are resistant to weather elements, thus extending the life of your prints.

  • Cost-effective for large orders: Although the initial setup might be a tad bit expensive, the low cost of materials makes it economical for large print runs.

  • Versatility: Screen printings can be applied to almost any surface, including fabric, wood, plastic, glass, and metal, opening up many possibilities for your digital art.

4. Laser and inkjet printing

If you're thinking about printing your digital art, both laser and inkjet printers can be viable options. Let's understand these two common printing technologies to help you choose the most suitable option for your work:

  • Laser printer: These printers function by generating an electrostatic charge in a pattern on a drum inside the printer. The charged areas attract toner, which is then transferred to paper and fused to it by heat. While laser printers often excel in terms of speed and durability, they may not provide the color vibrancy and detail that certain pieces of digital art require.

  • Inkjet printers: Widely recommended for art prints, these printers use liquid-ink droplets onto paper. They have a higher color control and mixing ability, leading to better color rendering. This is especially essential when dealing with high-definition images with wide color spectrums. A tip for artists considering canvas prints: inkjet printers, specifically those working with pigment-based inks, provide superior color definition over laser alternatives.

Printing digital art: A step-by-step guide

Artist printing digital art

Our step-by-step guide is here to simplify the process of turning your pixels into printing perfection.

1. Prepare digital files for printing

Preparations for digital files before their print stage should not be underestimated. 

Here's a breakdown of each step: 

  • Adjusting your digital files: Utilize your graphics software to enhance your digital artwork – converse with pixels, take control of dpi, and perfect the art's resolution. 

  • Choosing the right resolution and format: Conquer the digital divide by selecting a suitable file format (PDF is highly recommended) and clearly understanding the implications of your chosen color model (with openings for CMYK or RGB, depending on the desired outcome). 

  • Color management fundamentals: Establishing a firm understanding of color management can drastically enhance the fidelity of your print. This includes knowledge about the color gamut, color spaces, the difference between RGB and CMYK, and color profiling. 

2. Select a printing technique

Once you've prepared your digital files, the next crucial step is selecting the right printing technique. Here are a few common techniques: 

  • Direct to garment (DTG) printing: An excellent choice if you plan to print on fabric, such as t-shirts or tote bags. This method uses water-based inks to spray the design directly onto the garment.

  • Giclée printing: Renowned for its ability to replicate colors accurately, it's perfect for detailed digital art pieces. It uses high-quality, fade-resistant inks on various substrates, including canvas and fine art paper.

  • Screen printing: A widely used method that involves creating a stencil (or screen) of your design and using it to apply layers of ink to the printing surface. Screen printing often produces vibrant, lasting colors.

  • Laser and inkjet printing: These are the most common home printing techniques. While they provide good results, ensure your printer can handle high-resolution printing, and choose high-quality paper and inks for the best outcome.

3. Choose appropriate materials

Here's a rundown of a few aspects you need to consider: 

  • Paper types: Paper selection is crucial because the right choice can enhance your printed artwork. For instance, a thicker paper, like 250 gsm, is ideal for posters because of its flexibility and durability. For gallery displays, on the other hand, a heavier paper of about 500 gsm adds durability with less flexibility but results in a more polished appearance. Always opt for non-acidic paper for optimum color rendering.

  • Canvas and alternative materials: Canvas offers a distinct texture and depth to digital art prints. It comes in various sizes, qualities, and textures to suit different needs. In addition to traditional paper and canvas, you can explore non-traditional substrates like aluminum or synthetic materials that can add uniqueness to your digital art prints.

  • Ink longevity: When it comes to inks, pigment-based inks are preferred for their better color lifespan, even though they may lose out on brightness. Dye-based inks offer incredible brightness initially but have less color longevity. Choosing the right ink type for your selected paper or alternative material can significantly influence your final print’s quality and durability.

4. Print your digital art

With the advancements in technology, you have several options at your disposal, but one stands out for its convenience and quality —  print on demand services: 

  • Utilizing print on demand services: These platforms can handle everything from printing to shipping. You only need to upload your digital file and select your preferred options, and they take care of the rest. An example of a reliable print on demand service is Gelato, known for its high-quality prints and ease of use.

  • Understanding the printing process: Most print on demand services use techniques such as laser and inkjet printing, which offer high-resolution and vibrant color reproductions. Understanding the specifics of these processes can help troubleshoot any issues that may arise during printing.

  • Considering costs: Printing digital art on your own could require expensive equipment. Opting for a print on demand partner like Gelato not only ensures high-quality prints but also eliminates unforeseen expenses associated with printing equipment and materials.

  • Focus on quality: As an artist, the fidelity of your printed work to the original digital file is paramount. So, always select a printing service that guarantees high-quality outputs and color accuracy.

Tips for selling your printed digital art

Displaying digital art for sale

Once you've mastered the process of printing your digital art, the next step is successfully selling your creations. Here are some tips that can help you sell your artwork:

  • Choose your edition wisely: Limited edition prints can make your work more exclusive, attracting collectors and driving up the price. 

  • Build an authentic brand: From your artist bio to your artwork descriptions, storytelling can create a connection with potential buyers.

  • Set pricing strategically: Pricing your artwork can be tricky. Research and compare other artists with similar experience and style to guide your pricing.

  • Quality presentation: Invest in quality photography to present your prints online or create an appealing display if selling at art shows or galleries.

  • Promote your work: Use your social media platforms and website to showcase your work. Consider email marketing or advertising.

  • Partner with galleries or online platforms: Either traditional or online galleries can give your work visibility. Partnerships with platforms that offer print on demand services like Gelato can also be a great way to handle the logistics of selling.

Streamline digital art printing with Gelato

Gelato offers innovative solutions to streamline your digital art printing needs, with products like stunning wall art that can bring your digital creations to life.

With our Personalization Studio, you can easily design and fine-tune your artwork for superior prints. Gelato also offers flexible subscription plans tailored to your needs. 

If you're serious about showcasing your digital art in its best light, do not wait - sign up for Gelato today and transform your digital canvases into physical masterpieces.

Digital art prints FAQs

How do you print digital art?

Printing digital art involves preparing the digital files, adjusting the resolution, choosing the correct color profile, and selecting a suitable printing technique. Paper type, canvas material, and ink longevity are also key factors. Using a reliable print on demand partner like Gelato ensures high-quality, professional results.

What is the best printing method for digital art?

The best method for printing digital art largely depends on your desired outcome. Giclée and inkjet printing are ideal for high-quality, fine art reproductions, while direct-to-garment is perfect for apparel. Always consider the artwork, your budget, and the desired appearance when selecting a technique.

How do I get my digital art ready to print?

Preparing your digital art for print involves adjusting the resolution, file format, and color model of your image. This process can be completed using graphics software, which allows these parameters to be fully customized, ensuring your artwork will reproduce accurately and vibrantly when it is printed.

What format do you print digital art?

The ideal format for printing digital art is a TIFF or high-resolution JPEG file. Both formats retain high image quality, although TIFF files may take up more storage space. A TIFF file is recommended for professional and finer-detailed prints. However, JPEGs work well for simpler prints and smaller sizes.

What is the best material to print digital art on?

The 'best' material for your digital art heavily depends on the final look and feel you're after. For a gallery-worthy finish, consider archival-grade, acid-free paper, or fine art canvas. If you want a more modern, sleek aesthetic, consider printing on metal or synthetic materials.

How do I print digital art professionally?

Pro printing of digital art involves key steps. Ensure your artworks are edited and formatted properly, with the right resolution and color profile. Choose a suitable printing technique that matches your desired outcome. Consider print on demand services like Gelato for high-quality, cost-effective prints, whether for commercial reproductions or fine art.

How can I get high-quality prints of my digital art?

Getting high-quality prints of your digital art requires meticulous preparation and suitable materials. This includes properly adjusting the digital files, selecting the right print resolution, color management, and choosing the right printing technique and materials.


Next steps

Start selling products with Gelato