Print Making Steps

Printing at home.


Throwing in another printing post today.  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to deal with a printer dilemma and decided to take a break and talk about my printers.

Why do I want to print at home?  Well if this is the first time you’re reading my blog I’ll recap super briefly.  I tried outsourcing and it was a miserable terrible experience.  The prints weren’t all that great, customer service at some places wasn’t great, and I hate waiting on shipping.  It’s also hard to know what you are going to need.  I don’t want my customers to have to wait for a third party company to ship me the prints if I only order when needed.  Plus this would drastically increase costs, even just in shipping!  So printing when I want is a huge huge bonus for me.  Why not use a drop shipping company?  It goes against what I want for my business.

(Mandatory disclaimer:  I don’t care what you do for your business! My opinions are only regarding my business!  I can be completely supportive of your decisions even if they go against what I personally like, so don’t think I’m being critical of you if you chose another route.  That’s what makes this all fun, we’re allowed to have different paths!)

So now that you know why I want to print at home, here we go!

I have three printers I use.  The first is a Brother all in one laser jet copier, scanner, printer.  It works fantastically for words, and I print my references on it.  (Which is an entirely different post!)  It prints shipping labels quite nicely as well.  And that’s where its capabilities end.  So it’s more on the admin side of my artwork.

Onto the art printers.  I have two Epson printers.  The Artisan 1430, and the SureColor P800.  Why two?  Well, I bought the Artisan first and it doesn’t print black and white very well.  At all.  And, well, if you’ve seen my work lately that’s a bit of an issue.  So I did more research and bought the P800.  If I could do it again I’d skip the Artisan to start with.  But live and learn, and make expensive mistakes is the motto of starting a small business!

Alright so some general specs on each and then I’ll give you more of my rambling opinions on each and what they’re good for!

The Epson Artisan 1430.  Ranges from $300-400 US dollars depending on where you buy it and if you’re getting a sale and/or rebate.  It prints max 13×19 inch images.  It’s wireless (isn’t everything these days though?!)  And has 6 ink cartridges.  Not a tiny printer at 24x13x9 inches.  A set of replacement ink will cost around $138 from Epson.

The Epson SureColor P800.  Ranges from $800-1300 US dollars again depending on where you buy it and if you’re getting a sale and/or rebate.  It prints max 17 inches wide and you can attach a roll to it and print for miles.  Kidding, you can only print up to 129 inches.  The roll attachment is a separate purchase though and doesn’t come standard.  It’s also wireless and has 9 ink cartridges.  This printer is big.  It’s 27x15x10 inches and takes up some space.  When in use it takes up even more space.  A full replacement set of in costs $540 from Epson.

So now that the boring stuff is outta the way, let’s talk real actual opinions!

The Artisan is great for color printing.  It’s not a disastrous amount of money.  It works great.  The prints are fantastic.  It can handle decently thick paper.  I’ve run sheets of Bristol through it with no problems.  It’s a bit smaller which is nice.  If I printed all in color, this would be a great printer.  Well, as long as 13 inches wide is enough.  I print wider all the time.  I actually wish I had a printer that could print 23 inches wide.  But I haven’t won that lottery that I don’t play yet, so we’ll just stick with 13 and 17 inches for now!

The one downfall is it can’t print black and white.  I Googled and searched forums far and wide to find a solution, but it’s the same issue.  It prints with a tint to it.  Which is actually a pretty common thing.  Even prints from third party companies have this issue at times.

Here’s a picture to show what I’m talking about.

black and white photos have a tint

Now I didn’t edit this photo at all because I didn’t want to change the differences.  So please excuse that part.  But the cards themselves are white.  The top right is printed on the SureColor P800.  The other three on the Artisan.  The two on the left are two attempts with standard printing using different settings.  They both have a very serious bluish purple tint.  The bottom right is forcing the printer to only use the black ink by printing in grayscale.

(Oh man, this picture may need to be taken again trying to get better lighting.  The sun is even shining outside and it looks not so great.  I can see the differences easily, but then again, I’ve stared at these images for hours. If you can’t tell the differences, you’ll just have to trust me on this one.)

So with this flower it really doesn’t matter so much that it has a blue tint.  I mean we could just go for it and call it artistic.  It is a flower after all.  But a lion?  Yeah, blue tints don’t look quite so good on my big cats.

The grayscale isn’t too bad either to be fair.  For flowers and simple items.  But again.  A detailed animal?  It just doesn’t work.  You lose so much detail and it comes out looking really off.  So for some images the Artisan can pull off a black and white, but most of my work it can’t handle.

So I bought the SureColor P800.  The difference comes with the ink.  The P800 has two black inks and then a light black and a light light black ink.

Ok.  Slow down.

Two black inks?  It has an ink that it uses when you are printing on a glossy/luster paper, and then an ink that it uses when you are printing on a matte paper.  To switch papers, you have to switch inks.  Which wastes ink.  Takes a few minutes for the printer to switch.

Yes, this is just as annoying as it sounds.

Very annoying.

So I don’t switch very often.  I try and print all of my matte prints on the Artisan and all of the glossy prints on the P800.  I really only do small stationary cards on matte paper anyway.  At least at the moment.  If I ever start doing volume then it wouldn’t be as big of a deal to switch inks and just be mindful of printing them all in batches.

But anyway, back to the multiple black inks.  When you print with three shades of black you can get all of those wonderful details in there.  Kind of important to me.  I love details.  Three black shades can give you detail you just can’t get from only one black ink.

The other nice thing about the P800 is the ability to print in either warm or cool tones.  For my graphite work I always print warm.  Pencils aren’t true black and white.  They aren’t neutral.  They have this ever so slight brownish tint.  Seems crazy maybe at first.  But if you look closely at my picture above.  The top right one matches the original the best.  It’s pretty close, and I like that.

Now if matching the original isn’t your goal, and it certainly doesn’t have to be, then maybe this isn’t an important feature for you.

I also like that when I print my black paper drawings I can print them slightly cool.  This gives it that natural bluish tint that mimics real life.  It’s super easy to do with this printer.

If I could figure out how to apply a mask to the file and print with my Artisan and get the same warm tone, I’d be thrilled!  (Hey, if you know how to do that in Photoshop Elements and it actually works for me, I’ll send you a free greeting card of your choice to say thanks!  Seriously!)

The other nice thing about the P800 as I’ve mentioned is the larger print size.  Still wish it was a pinch larger, because when you’re leaving a border you only really get a max width of 16 inches.  But I have to work with what I’ve got, and it’s better than the max with border of 12 inches on the Artisan.

Touching on replacement inks because they seem to be a lot of fun.  They are expensive.  There are cheaper knockoffs and such.  I’ve never tried them.  I just try to remind myself that this is an expense of doing business.  Yes, I agree it’s no fun feeling like you have to sell a kidney when you have to buy replacements.  It all goes into the cost of printing at home though.  When you buy from a third party printing company you’re still paying for ink costs, you just don’t think of the break down.

There are other brands of printers out there that work well for prints.  But after researching a lot I decided to go with Epson.  So really it’s the only ones that I can talk about personally.

So there you go my printer ramblings for the day!

Have any questions?  Any other topics you want me to ramble about?  Just leave a comment, send me a message, or track me down on social media!  I love hearing from you!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful rest of your week!

Jessica 🙂


Choosing a paper for your artwork prints.

Welcome.  Today I’m talking about paper.

There are a lot of types of paper to choose from.  A lot.  While I won’t talk about every single type (we’d be here all day!), I will talk about the main categories.  Glossy, luster, matte, and canvas/linen are my groupings.

My super simplified descriptions.  Glossy is what most people think of when they’re talking about photos.  They reflect light and are shiny.  Matte is the opposite.  It has no shine.  Luster is a bit in between the two.  A compromise.  Canvas has a lot of texture.

Each paper type will give your prints a different look and feel.  And really it’s a very personal choice as to which is best for your prints.  So I’ll just do what I’ve been trying to do with every post, tell you what I did and why, and then you can apply it or toss it out depending on your opinions. Continue reading

What to do when you get your test prints in the mail.

Hello there!  Welcome.

So you go to the mailbox and your test prints have finally arrived!  Now what?  I know that the first reaction would be to get your originals ready to compare.  Don’t.  Leave the originals away for just a few moments.

Sit down.  Open the package.  Were they packed well?  For small prints it’s pretty hard to mess this up, but still take note of their process here. Continue reading

Choosing a Printing Company.


So you have your files all ready to order prints, now what?  This post will be about using a third party to print.  Printing yourself will be another day.

I’ve gone back and forth so many times on how to word this post, and I’m still not certain the best way to say some of this.  I keep debating whether to share all of my mistakes or just tell you what I really wish I had done.  My experience involved a lot of wasted money and even more needless tears.  After hours and hours and hours of research it was so disappointing to not actually have gotten anywhere.

So you have your plan right?  You know what your end goal is, correct?  (If not, stop and go read my last post about making a plan!)

The next step is to order some test prints.  From multiple places.  I know it may seem crazy upon first reading, but trust me on this one. Continue reading

Coming up with a plan.

Welcome!  Thanks for joining me!

Today I’m going to skip ahead a bit.  I know that a lot of people need more editing help, and I promise I have a list of common issues that I want to cover.  But I know some people already know the editing part and are ready to get to the print making.  So I’ll divert a bit from my original plan and then go back to more editing.  Please let me know if you have anything else you want me to cover.

If you remember back a few posts, we had a checklist of the steps involved with making prints.  (If this is your first post you’re reading that’s ok too!)  Our simplified checklist now looks like this:

Completed artwork

Way to take a picture

Program to edit photo

Edit photo

Method to print (either a printer or company to outsource)

So we are on to printing!  Yea! Continue reading

The importance of a good monitor. (Or why don’t my printed pictures match what’s on my monitor!)

Hello there!  Thanks for joining me.

It occurred to me that I haven’t really mentioned the importance of having a good computer monitor in this process.  Well actually, I think I may have mentioned it briefly in one of the first posts, but it’s super important, so today the topic gets it’s own post!

If you search in Google for why your printed pictures don’t match what you see on the screen the first million responses will say to calibrate your monitor and adjust your brightness setting.  (Seriously, go search for it!)

When most people use a computer the brightness is set very high, for editing it should be pretty low.  A monitor is a light source and what you see is different depending on how bright that light is.  The concept is pretty simple, but adjusting it can be a bit more complicated.  My brightness is normally kept between 20-25%.  This works for me.  Since you have a different model than mine you’ll have to play around and see what works for you.  This is the easy part of this equation. Continue reading

Very basic Photoshop editing.

Welcome!  So you have a picture or scan of your artwork!  But now what in the world do you do with it?!

Today’s post is a very, very basic Photoshop editing lesson.

I’ve heard people say that they can’t figure out Photoshop (you could say any editing program in there as well), and use that as an excuse to not take the steps they want to start selling.  While Photoshop can do amazing and incredible things, you only really need a few of those features at this point.  Even if you’re not trying to sell, but want to post better pictures of your artwork to social media, a quick edit can drastically improve things.

For this example, I’m going to be editing this ink bear that I painted, a fun little project experimenting with double exposure.

double exposure ink drawing bear forest Continue reading

Cameras, Scanners, Gimp and Photoshop


This post is going to cover a basic setup for your camera, basic scanning, and then a couple of editing programs.

Below is an idea of what your set up should look like for a camera.

Your artwork should be straight up and down.  The camera should be perpendicular to your artwork, aiming right at the center of the piece. If you are using lights they should be on each side, in line with the camera. In my research there are a lot of theories on which lights you should use with the only consensus being that they should be daylight bulbs. Some people say use four lights, some say two, some have them pointed at the opposite side of the artwork from where they are originating, some just straight on. This really is something you’ll have to play around with and test what works best for you. (I absolutely detest that advice by the way!) If there was a method that was foolproof for everyone there wouldn’t be so many varying methods out there. I found that using a few lights while the sun was bright in the room was the most helpful.

Continue reading

Getting your artwork to the computer. A lesson in megapixels.

Thanks for joining me! Today’s post is a lesson in megapixels, and a comparison of my work captured through a camera and a scanner.  We’ll also cross an item off of last week’s checklist!

I’m going to dive right in!

As I said previously, these are the camera options I had to start with:



I dismissed the phone, iPad, and point and shoot camera because of obvious quality issues with the first two, and because all of my research said not to use a point and shoot. The thing that I didn’t research enough was what my DSLR was actually capable of. In case the term is new to you, DSLR is an abbreviation for digital single-lens reflex camera. My way oversimplified explanation of the difference between this type of camera and a point and shoot is the option for interchangeable lenses, the ability to have complete control over the settings, and an image stabilization feature.

Remember when I said I don’t replace things just because they are old. They have to break, or die, or have holes, or rot? Continue reading