Printing concept art


Hi all!
I hope someone can help me. I’m new to digital painting, and I’ve been working on some new pieces. I’m working mainly with Photoshop’s oil brushes, which emulate the effects of oil painting quite well - onscreen, but these effects are not carried through well to the printed image.

I know enough about printing artwork to convert from RGB to CMYK and to work at a high enough resolution for printing - however, when I print, my images go kind of flat looking, blurryish and grainy.

Is there a better paper to print on than others - glossy vs matte, etc? Or if I took them to a print shop, would they print out better than on my rinky dink inkjet printer? Or is it just that the more painterly effects in Photoshop don’t translate to the printed image?
Thanks so much ahead of time…


a good printer should reproduce what you have on screen in CYMK. Stock will make a difference, cheap matte paper will soak up inks and allow them to spread and merge making them look duller. I have an old epson stylus pro, which with photo glossy paper does pretty fantastic prints which give a very good representation of on screen images. Theres probably a more up to date version of this.

With certain printers and ink types its often better to print from RGB as well.

Local print shops may not print as well as you can on printers like these as their printers maybe geared up for speed and large amounts rather than quality and the slow speed offered by inkjet.


Hi Baron,

You may want to show a part of your original and a scan of the printout so we can really see what’s going on.

It sounds like more of a printer problem to me. Make sure you keep using a high resolution, 300dpi or higher.

If your files aren’t grainy on-screen, but they are on the printout, you may want to upgrade your printer or take it to a service bureau to print out for you. Depending on the sizes of your paper and quantity or prints, this option can get very expensive.

Glossy paper works very well for producing vivid colors. And the ink doesn’t bleed nearly as much as on traditional paper. Plus you will have a nice sheen to the paper. Matte is alot like glossy in that the ink doesn’t bleed as much as normal paper, but without the sheen.

You shouldn’t really have to do this next step at all, unless nothing else seems to work. Consider creating everything in CMYK mode with colors that are only in Gamut (if there is a little exclamation mark on the color picker window, it is out of Gamut) or from a Pantone swatch library. Pantone has a library for coated and matted colors so what you see onscreen, in theory, will look the same as the printout.


just a couple of points fyi

  1. you cant reproduce pantones in CYMK, thats why they exist, you can only get close to them.

  2. you can work in CYMK preview whilst in RGB, which is faster and allows you access to more filters etc.


Thank you!
I’ll try a couple of these suggestions. I’m not working large - 4.5 x 9 inches (I know, laugh at me for not stating it in pixels - I’m a traditional artist, only just now learning digital!) :slight_smile:

I think probably a couple of my colors are indeed out of gamut and that might be part of the problem.
If I can’t work this out, I’ll post the piece here so you can see better, what I’m talking about.


For best results on a desktop inkjet printer, use glossy photo paper and the highest printer resolution, 1440dpi or higher on newer printers. Also make sure that your print settings match. For example, if you’re using glossy photo paper and your print options are incorrectly set for plain paper, you’ll get a faded or spotty image.


Heya man…just thought I’d drop in my input here…from what I’ve seen, epson does a great job for prints, especially with their new dura-brite ink, which is fade and water resistant, and comes in separate inks (CYMK). Also, the resolution on this thing is crazy…5760x1440 (optimized) res…You can pick up their lowest model for about 80 bucks, or go with one of there higher end models. At work, I’m constantly suggesting the C-84 to people and I’ve had nothing but rave feedback from my customers. Especially when printed out on some really good paper, or even photo paper. That makes all the difference in the world as well…dont use some crappy old copy paper…invest in some decent inkjet paper at 108+ brightness, and you’ll notice a difference. Just my .02 :wink:

heres a link for ya:

Epson Photo Printers:


I find it easiest to go to the nearest digital photo lab, they print photos from cd’s, memory cards… they print other stuff too. Quality is not bad, but sometime it’s hard to get the right colors.


BMunchausen- work in RGB but switch on cymk preview so you can see roughly what images will look like in cymk without converting…its just as fast and flexible as RGB. If you have a calibrated monitor see if you can get a CYMK profile off your outputters, that will really help with serious soft proofing on your computer, and to be safe work at 250dpi + at your output size.


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