Digital Printing Checklist: Top 10 Details to Sort Out

Interested in making beautiful, archival photographs but not sure where to begin?

We've outlined the 10 most important details you will need to sort out when you begin any digital printing project. 

Digital Printing Checklist

✓ Identify the source of your print.

Prints can be made from a digital file, film negative or slide, piece of original artwork, or existing photograph.

To ensure optimal image quality, digital files should be uncompressed, ideally in TIFF format though PSDs are also acceptable. If no edits have been made to the digital file you may also provide the raw/DNG file. Because jpegs are compressed they rarely do well in sizes over 11x14, roughly speaking, but a print under that size can usually be made from a JPG without issue. If you have a file in another format, please call or email us directly to discuss what may be possible in terms of printing.

In order to make a print from a negative, slide, flat art, existing photograph, or other document it must first be scanned. The size and associated cost of the scan is determined by your print size.

✓ Decide on a final print size.

The size of your print is one of two factors determining your print cost. If you are printing from a digital file the file size and resolution may limit how large you can take it. We will usually ask to see the file in advance to confirm that your print size is appropriate.

You may also want to consider whether you plan to have the print matted and/or framed. Customers are often surprised to see how much larger their work appears when several inches of matting is added. You may find it helpful to begin with the final dimensions of what you would like to hang on the wall, and work backwards from there.

✓ Consider your aspect ratio.

This is closely related to the bullet above but worth highlighting. We frequently receive requests for prints made in an aspect ratio that differs from the aspect ratio of the source file. For example, making an 8x10 print of a family portrait taken on a digital camera will likely need significant cropping as the digital image has a different aspect ratio.

Oftentimes cropping can be done with little issue but it depends on the content of the image. We can advise you on what is and is not possible for a specific image but it is worth considering your aspect ratio if you have already purchased a frame for the print, or you cannot tweak your print size for another reason.

✓ Choose a paper type and finish.

Your paper selection is the other factor affecting your final print cost. Our standard tier of papers are Epson Premium Photo papers. These papers are acid-free, archival, and come in three finish options--glossy, luster, and matte. If you prefer to make your print(s) on a fine art or watercolor paper, you can choose from our wide selection of fine art papers, which come in a variety finishes, tones, and textures.

Not sure which paper is right for you? Not to worry! Our experienced team can work with you one-on-one, in person or by phone, to better understand the look you envision and make suitable recommendations for your project.

Have you made prints in the past and prefer a specific type paper that we don’t carry? We will do our best to source any paper you need. Note, however, that manufacturers are always evolving their selections and some papers previously available may now be discontinued. Print pricing may vary for specially sourced materials.

✓ Decide whether or not your print should have a border.

This question is often answered by considering what your final intentions are for the print. If you plan on matting and/or framing the finished print, it is best to leave a quarter-inch border on all sides. Prints destined for face mounting are typically trimmed to edge but that is not required. Some clients also elect to leave a wide border around an image as an alternative to matting for a clean and simple finish.   

Borders up to 1” incur no added cost. Borders that exceed 1” will be added into the overall dimensions and relevant print cost. (A 20x24 print with 2” borders will be treated as a 24x28 print on your paper of choice.)

✓  Identify any retouching or restoration you would like made to the image prior to printing.

We will make your print to match the original image you provide unless you indicate otherwise. Our skilled digital team can make any modifications to your image, from minor retouching to significant restoration and editing, if you desire. Please be sure to describe any alterations you would like made to the image using as much detail as possible. If your project requires extensive editing, we may recommend exhibition-grade printing, which includes two proofs.

✓ Include a match print if you have one.

If we are making a print for you for the first time it can be helpful to provide us with a tangible example of what you are hoping to achieve. For digital reproductions of existing artwork or photographs, the originals will serve this function. If you have done your own editing in Photoshop or Lightroom, however, you may find that what you see on your computer screen or tablet does not render identically on our monitors. A letter-sized match print provides our printer with essential guidance in creating a final print that meets your expectations.

✓ Consider making a proof print first.

There are several instances where making a proof print is advisable. We may recommend a proof if:

  • Your digital file resolution is iffy and we are unsure whether it can go to your desired size. 
  • You don’t have a match print and we would prefer to do a test before making the final print.

  • You are undecided about paper selection and would like to see your actual image on different papers.

  • Your print is exceptionally large and you have not made one at this size in the past.

✓ Determine, at least generally, what you plan to do with the print once it’s made.

While it seems obvious, an idea of your end goal for a print will help you in deciding on all the details in this list. If you are unsure about any aspect from sizing to papers we are always available to listen and advise.

✓ Consider our minimum digital printing charge.

Our printing setup and workflow requires that we apply a minimum charge of $50 for all digital printing orders. We encourage our customers to assemble their print orders to optimize their value. For instance, if you request an 8x10 print, we will remind you that you can actually make three 8x10s for the same price. 

Get started by placing an order online anytime!