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4 Tips for Printing Printables So They Look Fantastic!!

Art in Your Home Freebie How to Series

how to print printables by Cathy Horvath Buchanan

4 Tips for Printing Printables So They Look Fantastic!!

I've downloaded some art but now what?...

I thought I would share a few tips on how to print downloadable wall art printables so that they look great when you print them off and hang them in your home. After your figure out how to download the files, the next step is printing your wall art.....

I'm sure you've already noticed that the colors on your screen look different than what comes out of your printer. Since screen color is created with light, and printouts with ink, there's no way around this fact, in this article I've included a few tips you can use to help your printouts look their beautiful best. Here's how to print a picture so it looks great!


Tip #1- Invest in a good printer

The internet today has a wonderful selection of printables for a wide variety of purposes. If you're planning on using a lot of printables, you'll save yourself a tonne of frustration if you invest in a good, reliable printer. 

You can choose between inkjet or laser...

I currently have a laser printer and found the quality to be great (my printer is a brother MFC-9340CDW  )

I also like the fact that the ink doesn't smudge if it gets moist, plus laser printers don't have the problem of clogged inkjets. I use my printer for a variety of things from printing shipping labels to test printing my artwork. The downside being that laser printers and toner cartridges are generally more expensive. (Note, the art prints I sell in my store are done through a professional printer and are archival quality & acid free)


I've had some great inkjet printers and some truly horrible ones, the quality can be uneven, and that's why we have a laser printer now. With inkjets printers it's all about the inkjet print head. Some have the print-head as part of the printer and some come with the print-head as part of the replacement ink cartridge.
The advantage of having the print-head with the replacement ink cartridge is that if it gets clogged you can just replace the cartridge and you're good to go. These printers are generally cheaper, but the replacement cartridges are way more expensive.
If the print-head is included in the printer, then the printer is generally more expensive but the replacement ink cartridges are much cheaper. The problem with this type of printer is that if the inkjets become clogged you may not be able to get them unclogged in which case the printer will no longer be any good. I've had both types of inkjet printers...which is why I now use a laser printer lol.

**Here's a short printers buying guide video put out by consumer reports

Conclusion - Regardless of which printer you choose to print at home with, it's best to do a bit of research and read the reviews, also make sure your check the price of replacement cartridges. It's best to know the quality of prints you'd like to have in the end, as this will reflect how much you're willing to pay for a printer. If' you're a photographer and need better quality printouts, some of the more expensive printers that offer archival inks and accompanying acid free paper would be suitable. For a person looking to just do some casual printing, then color fastness and longevity is probably not an issue.

 

Tip #2 - Choose the right paper for the job

printer paper

Paper can make a big difference especially with inkjet printers. Be sure to buy the paper that suits your printer, i.e. inkjet paper for inkjets and laser paper for laser printers. Some printer manufacturers also have their own lines of paper (ex. hp, epson, canon ) If possible use the type of paper the manufacturer suggests for the type of printing you want to do. For the sake of our wall art printables, you'll want to use a higher quality paper to get the best results (glossy or satin usually works well).
Paper and ink quality will also determine how long the page you printed stays looking good. If the inks your printer uses aren't 'archival' and paper isn't 'acid-free' whatever you print will tend to fade and color shift over time (as mentioned above in Tip #1 archival inks and acid free papers tend to be quite expensive), although if using cheaper materials you can always reprint the artwork if it fades.

I've use many different types of papers, a great all purpose glossy one is ... 
HP Professional Laser Premium Presentation Paper 

Experiment with different type of paper to see which prints best for your particular printer. Multi-type paper packs are great for this

Canon inkjet paper sample pack

Hahnemuhle-FineArt-Glossy-Inkjet-Sample

 

Tip #3 - Understand your printer's settings 

printing printables

Use the settings that best fit what you're printing. If you're printing something with just text or black outlines you can use a lower quality setting to print quickly and conserve ink.
If printing a full color artwork to hang in your home, you'll want to use the 'highest quality' or 'photo' settings.

You may also need to select a "color setting' which may involve choosing between RGB or CMYK. This starts to get pretty involved for the layman who's just trying to print something and have it look good. Basically what this means that your image is going from screen colors RGB (Red, Green, Blue) to printed colors CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, which correspond to the colors of ink in your printer). Many printers will do the conversion automatically for you, and assume that your document/art is sRGB (the standard color profile for most documents online and downloadable printables is sRGB). Probably the easiest solution is to do a sample print using the one color profile and if it doesn't look good try the other one.

The other variable you'll need to address is choosing the setting according to the paper sheen (glossy/satin/mat etc.) The paper package will usually indicate the sheen, if not you should be able to guess just from looking at the paper in good light.

Be sure to adjust the setting to select the correct size/scale for the paper you are using and also select the proper paper orientation whether it's 'horizontal' or 'portrait'. Usually there'll be a print preview setting on your printer where you can see what the layout of the final printout will look like, this way if you don't like what you see you can adjust before doing the actual printing.

If you do choose to scale the image there are a few rules...you can go down in resolution, just be sure to click the 'constrain proportions' checkbox or else your image will look skewed. If you try to increase the resolution, your image will start to become blurry and pixilated. Screen resolution is 72dpi, if you print at 100% at this resolution your image will be poor quality, but you can scale the image smaller to increase the resolution. The ideal dpi for a printed image is 300dpi.

Be sure the scale or size of what you're printing so that it fits within your printer's printable area. A few types of printers will have a 'borderless' print setting which means you can print right to the edges of the paper, but for all others a blank border around the outside of the paper will remain . You can always use a paper trimmer to cut away the extra white boarder especially for something like a greeting card.

I have a mini paper trimmer that I use all the time, I find it's so much easier and quicker than using scissors also looks much nicer with the clean straight edge

Friskars SureCut-Deluxe-Trimmer 

Another part of this whole paper equation is how your printer deals with the thickness of paper you've chosen. Even though your particular printer may be able to print on thicker paper you may need to hand feed the paper one at a time via a bi-pass slot (especially for card stock or envelopes). If you're using the feed tray, empty all the regular paper from the tray and place only a few pieces of your select paper in the tray while printing in order to avoid jamming. You may also have to adjust some settings on your printer to accept thicker paper, depending on your printer this can either be a software setting or a manual setting on the actual printer. 

  • DO NOT load different types of paper in the paper tray at the same time because it may cause paper jams or misfeeds.
  • For proper printing, be sure to choose the same paper size in your software application as you have in the paper tray.
  • Avoid touching the printed surface of the paper immediately after printing.
  • Before you buy a lot of paper, test a small quantity to make sure that the paper is appropriate for the machine.

how to print printables 2 by Cathy Horvath Buchanan

Tip #4 - Take it to a professional printer

If you don't want to invest in a quality printer and your printing needs are few or if this all seems like just too much hassle, you can just put your stuff on a thumb drive and go have them printed at your local service bureau like kwikkopy, fedex or staples (I've used my local staples for various print jobs and I've been very happy with the results). The quality will be great but will be a bit expensive if you have a lot to print, be sure to get a quote beforehand to avoid any surprises. It will also cost extra to have them printed quickly while you wait.
You can also get printing done online through providers like: catprint.com ,vistaprint.comovernightprints.com , officedepot.com, digitallizardprint.com.  I can't recommend one over the other, but it's still worth  'google-ing' for further choices. Of course if purchasing online you'll have to wait for the printouts, so it's not something you'll have in hand today.

NOTE: Copyright may be an issue if taking it to a pro-printer, they will want to know that you have the legal right to print off the item, especially with something like artwork. Even if you're not getting them professionally printed you should still check that you have the legal right to print whatever it is that you're trying to print.

 

FREEBIE Just for You!!!

Just so you have something special to test with, I've included a inspirational printable below. Use the tips above to it print out, be inspired and enjoy!!

 



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