Fine Art Printing: How Can I Reproduce my Mixed Media Artwork?

Creating fine art printing reproductions of mixed media art presents its own set of challenges for the working artist. In this article, Laura Jajko, President of American Frame (www.americanframe.com) describes how to properly prepare, light and photograph your artwork in a way that accurately reflects the color and texture of the original work.

This is a question our photographer  receives quite frequently from local customers who bring their work into our Showroom for consultation. As we all know, ‘mixed media’ is a very broad term as it applies to describing art: it can mean collage, a work on paper or canvas using a combination of paints, pastels, pencils and/or charcoals, or even 3D work that incorporates objects and fabric into the finished piece. As with any art reproduction process, it is important to capture a color correct representation of the original so it can be printed. However with mixed media, or even paintings with heavy brushstrokes, it is absolutely critical that the TEXTURE is captured so that any professional art or printing house can faithfully create printed reproductions that are true to the original. This is not an easy task, but it happens to be one of our specialties and we are always happy to share our knowledge. Here follows some tips and hints from our in-house specialist.

artwork by Cheryl Holz
Artwork by Cheryl Holz


SET THE STAGE

When photographing any mixed media work of art, make sure that you are using an accurately level surface, preferably a wall, on which the artwork will be placed. Set your camera up (a digital SLR is what we recommend) on a sturdy tripod at its lowest ISO rating which allows for a slower, more light-filled digital capture.

CHOOSE A LIGHT SOURCE AND STICK WITH IT

This is key. It’s always best to use even lighting from a single type of light source for precision in color and form and texture in the digital file. If you’re lucky enough to have a naturally sun filled room, use sunshine. Overcast days are ideal for photographing in open indoor spaces, or even outside as the light is flat which eliminates distortion from shadows. If you need to use a light system, choose only one type of lighting. If it’s incandescent, use incandescent. If it’s flash, use only flash and model lighting. Do not mix sources as it will distort your results. When setting up any lighting system, keep your lights at a 45 degree angle toward the front of the artwork at each side. This is known as 4545. Also try to place your lighting system 5-10 feet from your image.

SET YOUR WHITE BALANCE

Before you photograph, set your white balance with a grey card and always use a color checker reference chart with your original for exact color profiling and matching.

PHOTOGRAPH THE ARTWORK

Remember this rule as you photograph: the higher the resolution of the digital file, the more detailed the image will be once it is printed. Ideally, art should be photographed at 300DPI (150 DPI minimum) at the full size at which you wish to print. This means that if the original is 20 x 30 and it’s photographed at 300 DPI, reproductions up to that original size or smaller can be created without risk of any pixilation or loss of information in the print. High resolution is vital to reproducing highly textured works as loss of resolution will flatten and distort the final printed image. Be sure to view on a  calibrated monitor to insure color correctness.

SELECT A SUBSTRATE FOR PRINTING

Once you have your approved digital file in hand the printing process can begin. Choose a substrate that you believe will represent the unique qualities of your original work, then proof your work on that substrate, be it an art paper, photographic paper or canvas, as these substrates differ in their range of colors and textures, each absorbing ink and reflecting light in different ways. There is a world of information on this topic available on our blog and website.  During the proofing process, changes can be made to the colors in the file and the paper that you choose. Although it can be a bit time consuming and slightly annoying, proofing is a step that should not be skipped prior to going to print.

So thank you for joining me today to learn about this very important topic. I know there is a lot to take in and as artists, you may not have the resources or desire to take this on yourself. But equipped with the right knowledge, you can work with a fine art photographer to achieve the results you envision, and if you happen to need assistance, just give us a call or if you’re in the area, stop in. We are here to help.

For more information, see our related articles:

Is It Professional ‘Photo’ or ‘Photography’ Printing?
The Vocabulary of Giclee – Digital Printing Technology
Fine Art Printing Technology – Giclee to Archival Inkjet Printing
Canvas Types and Wraps – Prints on Canvas
How Do I Order a Print Only at AmericanFrame.com?
What Is the Largest File Size I Can Send You for Art Printing?
Choosing a Print Size and Determining Framing Prices: Two Easy Methods
Digital Printing: How Do Megapixels, Resolution, Pixel Dimensions Relate to Print Size?
Choosing the Right Paper for Your Project – Part I
Choosing the Right Paper for Your Project – Part II

AubreyK | 10/22/2014 10:08:09 AM | 4 comments
Comments
American Frame
Reid,

It sure is amazing!
10/24/2014 1:48:16 PM

American Frame
Valerie,

The set up can take some time, but it's well worth it in the end when you end up with stunning results!
10/24/2014 1:47:49 PM

ValerieK
Sounds like the set-up process can be pretty time consuming. It must take a lot of practice!
10/24/2014 11:24:21 AM

Reid Anthony
Its amazing what technology can do these days
10/24/2014 11:23:46 AM

About this blog

Laura Jajko

Join in and let’s bond over our love of art and framing. Here, I’ll be sharing design inspiration and decisions, twitter chat summaries, and happenings with the company, among other things. With more than 40 years of practical experience, I bring a unique perspective in a straight-forward style that I hope will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialog in our online community.


For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs -  Ask Mike or At Your Service


Subscribe RSS Feed