This article follows on from Part 1 where I cover what types of files you need and why in this article I share details on my exact steps once you have your high-resolution file on what sizes to do and how to save out your files.
How-to: Steps for saving our your digital art files for printing & website
Now you have your “base file” as outlined in Part 1 you now have to get all of your files ready in the formats and sizes so that you can easily grab them when needed this could be for a project like getting some greeting cards printed or sending them to your website or website developer.
This is such a time-saver and my recommendation for best practice is to batch this process do this every time you do a few artworks so you have it all on file and can grab them when needed.
As a guide as previously mentioned, for each of my key artworks, I will have the following files ready:
- Base file / scan / original photo – artworkname_scan.jpg
- A cropped and slightly edited high-resolution file – artworkname_highres.jpg
- A cropped and slightly edited* web file – artworkname_web.jpg
- Then I will also have depending on the artwork:
- 8X10″ (20X25cms) print -optimised for the printer (see Part 3 article)
- 5X7″ (13X18cms) print – optimised for the printer (see Part 3 article)
- A pdf using a template I have of the greeting card setup of this artwork (using the above optimised file point 2.)
- A product image if on sale via my website shop at set web dimensions.
- An environment photo where the painting is on the wall or in a setting (for website) if on sale via my site or social media
- Detailed / closeup photo of an interesting part for website or social media
- A Square / Instagram version of this painting in a setting or I crop this in the Instagram app as I go.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH YOUR BASE FILE AND WHY THEY NEED FURTHER EDITING
Often, artists will just expect their scanned or photographed files will be good enough to use on their website or for printing. Unfortunately, this is not the case & here is why:
Not cropped – on the raw (either photographed or scanned) files you will see the background of the scanner, or the background of the painting ie. An easel or floor, in most instances this is distracting from the painting and doesn’t look professional so this needs to be cropped out.
Skewed or crooked – it’s hard to take a photo straight if using a camera– and add to that camera lenses actually also have a distortion, this will be depending on your setup and your camera but you will notice as you try to crop your background out you will likely not get a clean edge to the painting all the way around. Good news is that you can digitally correct this via a graphic program if you have the editing skills but the more time you take here to make sure you are taking a straight photo the less time that needs to be done later.
Lighting – It’s difficult to get the lighting right on your artwork, typically in amature photos the lighting for the artwork is poor, there can be reflections if you have glass or its too dark the colours don’t come out right or if you use flash (which generally is best not to , unless you are a professional) you will get the flash burst right in the middle of your painting. If you take a photo in daylight that can be great light but sometimes can be very blue and can distort how your colours come out in the files. Again the good news is this can be adjusted and if you know your way around Photoshop or a graphics program you can adjust this yourself – see notes Part 3.
Paper & Edge Shadows – if you are scanning paper even if this just a black sketch on white paper pretty often the white paper won’t show as white, it will show up as grey, or there will be a shadow on the edges of the scanner. What this means is, if you are wanting to sell this artwork as prints these discrepancies will show on your printing and will need to be adjusted before they will be print-ready.
Unwanted marks or scratches on your original that can easily be edited off, you might not see these for web but for prints every little bit shows ESPECIALLY if you are enlarging slightly to a different size.
So you can see there are lots of bits that do need to be done from your scan or photo if you are wanting a professional look and depending on if you want to print. If you don’t have the digital skills to do these yourself you can commission a graphic designer who is experienced in preparing art files who will do these for you. My recommendation is to do it in batches, gather a few key ones and get them all done in one go, it will save you money and time rather than doing a bit at a time. If you are keen to learn how to do it yourself, then please read on for my step by steps on what to do from here:
STEPS for making edits to your BASE FILES and preparing your work for print and web.
For this process, I use Adobe Photoshop, but you can use most graphics programs to do the basic functions, please be mindful that some Apps you can find to do this on your phone will do a great job but your files will only be 72dpi, so if you are wanting print files you will need to find another tool.
When I start this process, I start by opening my base file and do the following tasks:
- Make sure it’s 300 dpi, if it’s not I will go to “Image>Image Size” and make the resolution 300dpi ensuring that the “Resample” box is unticked to give me the pure print size.
- I crop out the background & straighten the edges if it’s crooked, I rotate it to straight using Guides to have a straight line – making sure it’s a clear cut photo as close to the edges as possible.
- I do adjustments of brightness/lighting/contrast – in Photoshop I go to: “Image>Adjustments>Levels” checking that the colours are ok and close to the original and making further adjustments as needed.
- I edit out any marks and scratches via the “Spot healing brush” tool if the artwork is scanned that can sometimes happen and if it’s on white paper I get rid of the edges if they have shadowed, sometimes I have to actually delete all of the white paper by masking out the background from the drawing.
- Then I “SAVE AS” a new file (keeping my original) and name the file “highres or print” ie. artworkname_highres.jpg
Note: Even if I am not going to do prints of my artwork I will still start by having a high resolution file, the quality will be better when I save out my web file, the detail will be better, and you never know one day you might need this file as a record of your artwork.
I resize my file to correct web size: I make my web files about 900pixels high or wide, and make sure the file as I save it is 72dpi,
in Photoshop you can choose “File>SAVE AS WEB” and adjust your file naming it web.
Note: Sometimes for websites, I will also brighten the file with contrast a little bit, sometimes it needs it cause it will be viewed on-screen but not always it just depends.
THAT’S IT! For the main steps. Then I have my first two files done, I will then move onto all the other formats I needed (Step 3). The process is not really that hard if you have some knowledge about what to do 😊
Saving out all the other versions
TIP: Its best to do this while you have this file up and open and then save out the versions as needed if you know you will likely need them.
For my print files, I will open up my – High-Resolution file and resize the file to the sizes I need.
For example for a 8X10″ print, I will
- Open up my artwork file. then I will start a “>File>New document” and create the new file with the dimensions 20X25cm at 300dpi.
- Then I will drag my artwork from the high-resolution file across to the new 8X10″ file. When you do this you are then matching print files to dimensions and depending on your size you will need to drag down your artwork to match the size of your print.
- Then once I have it right I will SAVE AS or SAVE a copy out from this file to name it :artworkname_8X10.jpg This gives me this artwork resized correctly to the 8X10 format.
- Then if i am running prints, I will use this file as the test run for colour matching to my printer and this file will be adjusted to the printer. More info on the article about Printing in Part 3.
This is essentially the same process for the web files, instagram etc, where my new document will be the correct size and the artwork goes into that. That essentially ensures each file is the dimensions and resolutions. There are ofcourse other ways you can do this but i have found sometimes other ways don’t always give you the correct matching and this one works for me.