View Full Version : How to get inexpensive "copies" of paintings

02-13-2005, 05:47 AM
[Not sure if this is a GQ or CS, but seemed you folks might know better.]

OK, so I've demonstrated that my artistic ability with oils & acrylics is roughly the same as my artistic ability with anything else. Which is to say, nonexistent.

However, I've managed to produce a couple of works which, while I'm sure I couldn't sell them, are pleasing enough to me that I'd like to share them with (/inflict them on) friends and family.

So how do I go about getting it done? These are paintings on stretched canvas, a variety of sizes up to about 18x24, and even the oil ones seem dry now after several months.

I've heard of "Giclee" printers, and that it costs several hundred dollars to set up (although trivial cost-per-print after that). That's way too much; I'm thinking $40 tops or it's not worth it. I've also considered scanning them in sections on a flatbed printer, photoshopping them together, and taking the (very large) TIFF file to Kinko's or the like. This seems like it's more work than it ought to be; surely there are ways to duplicate large-format items in high quality but low volume, no?

Obviously copies on canvas would be nice, but I'd settle for high-quality glossy "posters."

Any ideas from the assembled wisdom of the SDMB? Searches on "art print" provided a fascinating cross section of topics, but none seemed related to this.

02-13-2005, 03:53 PM
Get someone with a nice camera to take pictures, maybe?

Starving Artist
02-13-2005, 04:53 PM
Kinko's can scan from your original painting. Around here the charge for that is $14. If you have prints made at Kinko's from the scanned image, you can get color 8" X 10"s or 11" X 14"s copies made for just $2 or $3 dollars each (I don't know about the quality as I haven't had this done myself). Supposedly, the color reproduction is pretty good. If you go larger than 11" X 14", they will make the prints using their large machinery and it will cost you around $30 or $40 per print.

I looked into this as I am pretty much in the same boat you are (amatuer making copies not suitable for sale, etc.), but my paintings are 24" X 30" (i.e., approx. $50 ea.) and I didn't want to go to that much expense.

02-13-2005, 06:03 PM
I am an artist, and one solution for works on canvas as large as yours is to have it photographed with a digital camera at high resolution and create a file from that. Works on canvas are very hard to reproduce well, especially when that large, and with alot of impasto (built-up areas of paint). The bigger the piece the more mega-pixels you should have on the camera, though, as trying to photograph a large piece with less than about a 5 will give you fish-eye effects.

However, if you just want a reasonable copy for family and friends, then you may get good results with a digital camera, or even as you suggested, scanning in sections, then piecing together.

Another thing to consider is not only the quality of your scan, but the type of printer it is printed from. In the art world, there is much snobbery and elitism regarding printers. You do not need to have it done on some $8000 machine, but it also shouldn't be a desk jet, either. Epson printers, such as the Epson 4000 are great for large artwork.

Lastly, I am also learning myself that the word "giclee" doesn't mean squat anymore. Don't be sucked into some sales pitch from a printing company about it.

02-13-2005, 10:33 PM
Thanks for the ideas, folks. I'll see what Kinko's has to say.

I've tried the digital camera idea, but I don't seem to have sufficient control over lighting (over the size of the canvas, there are obvious lighting gradations). And in any case I'd like higher resolution--5 megapixel is low for poster-size art, and I don't know anyone with one of those professional 10-15 MP cameras.

Starving Artist
02-13-2005, 10:40 PM
You're welcome and good luck. I hope you'll let us know how it turns out.

02-17-2005, 11:05 AM
Well, Kinko's was a bust; they were going to charge me roughly $100 for two copies; told me the colors would be "wrong" unless I paid them $90/hour for "color matching services", and then couldn't do it, anyway, because their scanner wouldn't take a streched canvas.

The color matching irritated me -- I spent a portion of my life writing software that had color matching as a feature. Assuming scanner and printer are properly calibrated, "color matching" is mainly a matter of making a choice about what match properties are important to you and then clicking a button. They were going to make me choose every color from a pantone swath...and $90/hour is a big incentive not to automate the process.

After trying a number of local art and photography studios, I found one that could do high-resolution digital reproductions (they use a high-end camera rather than a scanner) for about 2/3 of the Kinko's price, and they'd actually heard of an IEEE Color Profile (that's "ColorSync" for the Mac people). I haven't gotten them back yet, so we'll see.

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