How To Digitize Artwork And Earn With Print on demand


So, you’ve created a stunning piece of art and now you’re eager to bring it into the digital world.

But you don’t know how to digitize artwork properly?

It’s not overly complicated and can be done cheaply, as long as you follow a few key steps.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps and best practices for digitizing artwork in photoshop (or similar), whether you’re using a scanner, a camera, or a smartphone.

By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to seamlessly transition your artwork like a pro into a digital format, unlocking a world of possibilities for sharing, printing, and selling your art on products utilizing print on demand.

Key Takeaways

  • Scanning is more suitable for artwork with minimal texture, while photographing is better for artworks with textures and larger sizes.
  • Cameras are more suitable for textured art and you can control the lighting setup and use a high-quality camera, such as a DSLR, for accurate color reproduction and detail capture.
  • Choose the best file format for scanning your photos, such as TIFF, JPEG, or PNG, based on specific needs and intended use.
  • Pay attention to pixel density or pixel count for more detail and higher-quality scans.

Scanning Vs Photographing Your Art

When digitizing your art, the decision to scan or photograph your artwork depends on the type of media, texture, and size of the piece.

Scanning is more suitable for artwork with minimal texture, such as oils, heavy acrylic, and canvas. It provides higher accuracy and is ideal for professional use.

Scanners are affordable and require less equipment, making them suitable for smaller artworks, typically A2 or smaller.

When scanning, it’s essential to save the scans in TIFF format, choose the right DPI (300 DPI for high-quality scans), and consider using fixative for smudgeable media like charcoal and pastel.

On the other hand, photographing is better for artworks with textures and larger sizes. It’s a good option if you lack access to a scanner but have a camera. Ensure even lighting, use a tripod for stability, and a decent DSLR camera for better image quality.

How do I get the best scans?

To get the best scans of your artwork, there are several factors to consider.

First, you need to choose the best file format to scan your photos into. This will depend on your specific needs and the type of artwork you are scanning. Popular file formats for artwork scans include TIFF, JPEG, and PNG.

Next, you should pay attention to the pixel density or pixel count of your scans. Higher pixel density will result in more detail and a higher-quality image. It’s important to strike a balance between high-resolution and manageable file sizes.

When it comes to choosing a scanner, you may come across two common types: CIS (Contact Image Sensor) and CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) scanners.

CIS scanners are generally more affordable and compact, making them suitable for personal use. On the other hand, CCD scanners are known for producing higher-quality scans with better color accuracy and depth.

After scanning your artwork, you may need to stitch together multiple scans to create a complete image.

This is especially useful when scanning larger pieces that cannot fit on a single scanner bed. There are various software programs available that can assist you in this process like Photoshop and Affinity Photo (my personal favorite).

To save time and improve efficiency, you can utilize automatic stitching features available in some scanning software. These features can automatically detect overlapping areas in your scans and align them seamlessly, saving you the hassle of manual adjustments.

Best File Format to Scan Your Photos

Wondering which file format is best for scanning your photos into to achieve the highest quality scans?

When choosing the format you need to decide between RGB and CMYK color format. Usually, RGB is best for use on screens e.g. for websites or social media. CMYK is best for printing.

The TIFF format is recommended for scanning artwork as it retains the highest image quality and is widely compatible with various software, including Adobe Photoshop.

Top Tip

Why not scan as CMYK and RGB and save in both formats? This will ensure you have all options open to you however you end up using the file.

Choosing the Right Pixel Density/Pixel Count

When digitizing your artwork, using a flatbed scanner with the appropriate pixel density is key. Consider the following:

  1. Dots per Inch (DPI): Select a high resolution of at least 300 DPI for detailed and clear scans. 300 DPI is the standard requirement for most print on demand suppliers.
  2. Scanner Type: Opt for a CCD scanner for accurate scanning of textured and raised surfaces, ensuring all intricate details are captured.
  3. Fixative Use: When dealing with smudgeable media like charcoal and pastel, consider using fixative before scanning to prevent smudging and ensure the integrity of the artwork during the digitization process.

CIS vs CCD Scanners

When selecting a scanner for digitizing artwork, your choice between a CIS and a CCD scanner will significantly impact the quality and detail of your scans.

For thinner and flatter artworks with less texture, consider using a CIS scanner. Opt for a CCD scanner when you need accurate scanning of textured and raised surfaces, providing better depth and detail in the scans.

Look for scanners with flexible lids for scanning larger artworks and adjustable settings for different types of art.

Choose a scanner with higher optical resolution for capturing fine details in the artwork and ensure it has the capability to save scans in non-lossy formats like TIFF for retaining image detail.

Some recommended scanner brands include Epson for flatbed scanners suitable for digitizing art with a paper background.

How to Stitch Together Your Scans

To achieve the best scans for stitching together your artwork, select a high-quality scanner from reputable brands such as Epson or Canon. Properly scanning your artwork is crucial for creating a seamless digital image.

Here are essential steps for getting the best scans:

  1. Adjust settings: Choose the correct color mode (RGB for screens, CMYK for printing) and appropriate DPI (300 dpi for printing, 72 dpi for screens & web) to ensure accurate scans.
  2. Clean up artwork: Utilize software like Adobe Photoshop to remove the background and refine the image. Consider using fixative for smudgeable media like charcoal and pastel.
  3. Stitch scans: Save your scans in TIFF format for compatibility and retaining image detail, and use the Photomerge function in Photoshop to automatically stitch the scans.

Following these steps will help you digitize your artwork effectively, creating a high-quality digital version for various purposes.

Automatic Stitching

Consider utilizing a scanner with automatic stitching capabilities to efficiently merge scans of large artwork. When choosing a scanner, ensure it has a flexible lid to accommodate varying thicknesses and textures of artwork. Look for a scanner with CCD technology for accurate scanning of textured and raised surfaces.

Once the artwork is scanned, use the Photomerge function in Photoshop to automatically stitch the scans together. This function seamlessly combines multiple images into a single large image.

If automatic stitching fails to produce accurate results, manual stitching in Photoshop can be employed. When using Photoshop, ensure the scanned image is placed on a background layer, allowing for easy editing and manipulation while preserving the original scan.

Manually Stitching

For the best scans, utilize a high-quality scanner such as Epson or Canon to ensure superior image quality.

When manually stitching scanned artwork in Photoshop, follow these steps:

  1. Open the scanned images in Photoshop and create a new document with a white background.
  2. Use the ‘new layer’ function to layer the scanned artwork, ensuring precise alignment.
  3. Manually stitch the artwork together by carefully blending the edges, adjusting transparency, and refining any inconsistencies.

How to photograph your artwork

Photographing to digitize art

When photographing your artwork, proper lighting setup is crucial to accurately capture the details and colors.

Selecting and adjusting your camera settings, such as ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, will ensure optimal image quality.

Taking the picture with a steady hand or using a tripod to prevent camera shake will result in sharp and clear images for digitizing.

Lighting Setup

To accurately capture your artwork, ensure even lighting is used and position the artwork on a flat surface or at the correct angle for photography. When setting up the lighting for digitizing your work, consider the following:

  1. Control the Light: Use natural sunlight or position lamps at a 45-degree angle to create even lighting across the artwork.
  2. Position the Camera: Place the camera on a tripod and set it up parallel to the artwork to avoid distortion.
  3. Well-lit Environment: Ensure the area is well-lit to prevent shadows and accurately capture the colors and details of the artwork.

Picking and Adjusting Your Camera

Ensure your high-quality camera, such as a DSLR, is properly adjusted to accurately capture the colors and details of your artwork. Set your camera to the highest resolution and use the appropriate color settings for accurate reproduction.

When photographing your artwork, utilize natural sunlight or soft, even artificial lighting to minimize shadows and highlight the textures. Consider using a tripod to stabilize the camera and ensure sharp, focused images. Experiment with different angles and compositions to find the best way to capture your artwork.

After capturing the images, you can further refine them using photo-editing software to ensure the colors and details are accurately represented and the paper texture background is removed.

Taking the picture

For optimal image quality, utilize a DSLR camera when photographing your artwork. When taking the picture, ensure even lighting across the artwork by using natural sunlight or lamps. This will help capture the colors and details accurately.

Using a tripod is essential to prevent camera shake and ensure sharp images. Adjust the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed on your camera to optimize the image capture process. By doing so, you can effectively digitize your original artwork, particularly watercolor pieces, ensuring that they’re suitable for art licensing or reproduction while maintaining the integrity of the artwork.

Other Ways To Digitize Art

Use a tablet and recreate your artwork. You can take a rough picture and use that as a base for your new digital version, open it in your favorite editing software, like Affinity Photo, and then recreate the image by drawing over it.

Considerations For Print On Demand

Make sure you have researched which print on demand supplier you want to use. When you have, decided which products you want to sell and check the file requirements for that product.

You need to make sure that it will be easy to use your digitized artwork with the print on demand supplier to create the product you want to sell.

For example, Printify’s print file requirements for a t-shirt are:

  • JPG, PNG and SVG file types supported
  • Maximum 100 MiB (JPG, PNG) or 20 MiB (SVG)
  • Print area size 3600 × 4800 px (300 DPI)
  • Maximum resolution 30000 x 30000 px

Not all print on demand suppliers are the same. Some like Gelato and Prodigi specialize in paper-based which will ensure you get a better quality print when the product is produced.

Try a few samples, check the quality before settling for the POD supplier for your store.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Turn My Artwork Into Digital?

To turn your artwork into digital, capture it using a scanner for professional results or a phone for quick access. Use an art program like Adobe Photoshop to remove the paper background, refine edges, and adjust colors. Save in the appropriate format and resolution, ideally 300dpi at least.

How Do You Digitize Artwork for Print on Demand?

To digitize artwork for print on demand, use a high-quality scanner like Epson or Canon. Select the correct color mode and DPI for digital artwork. Clean up using Adobe Photoshop or similar software. Consider taking Jenna Rainey’s course for further guidance.

How Do You Digitize Art With a Camera?

To digitize art with a camera, position the artwork in natural sunlight, use a tripod, and adjust camera settings for optimal quality. Capture the artwork, import it into Photoshop, remove the paper texture background, and refine the image for a natural look.

How Do You Digitize a Large Drawing?

To digitize a large drawing, use a high-quality scanner from brands like Epson or Canon. Ensure correct color mode (RGB for screens, CMYK for printing) and appropriate DPI. Consider professional scanning or photographing for larger artworks.

Are Flatbed scanners any good for digitizing art?

Yes flat best scanners are a great option to digitize artwork especially art that has no or little texture and easily fits in the scanner e.g. A4 or A3 and smaller.

how to digitize artwork – Wrap up

In conclusion, digitizing your traditional artwork opens up a world of possibilities for sharing, printing, and enhancing your creations.

Whether you choose to scan or photograph your art, the process of importing, refining, and removing the paper texture background can be successfully achieved using software like Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Canva and Creative Fabrica Studio.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can now digitize your art and start selling art all over the globe utilizing print on demand using your new digitized art.