Printing iPad Art

Art Print
Some of my iPad art prints.

Pre – Ramble – I Mean Amble. 

In these past two or so years; after much experimenting with iPad art, and printing some, I can see this will continue to play an important part in my art adventures.

I’ve recorded here some of my research, thoughts and experiences, in the field of digital printing. Some of which, I’ve already posted a little about. Sharing information about iPad art and digital printing, can only be a good thing; as it seems there’s (though it’s changing) a lot of misconceptions – often negative ones – about both these areas. Following are points I look at:

  1. making prints of works on paper.
  2. Differences between iPad art “original” prints, and “reproduction“ prints.
  3. About giclee/inkjet printing – with links about “open” and “limited” print editions.
  4. About prints I make at home – updated January 2017
  5. Art for all

I’m learning as I go along; and as I’m no expert in these matters, I do recommend you read the links I’ve

Laser prints
A couple of laser prints

sprinkled throughout this page, as they expand on some of the points I make. *I don’t necessarily, agree with all viewpoints on these linked websites.

I’ll keep this page updated, with any info and links I find helpful; and hope it will also be a help to you. There’s some information on my art for sale on my “Shop” page, and about art on my RedBubble shop. 

*A link, to one of my posts with a downloadable “iPad Art Info pdf”.

1/ Making Prints of Works on Paper.

Over the years, I’ve often used a colour copier/printer to scan and make “reproduction” prints of my watercolours, ink pen, and pencil works. These were mostly used to illustrate my poems, for my hand made books. 

I generally worked in a small size, A4 and under. This was a good size for printing, and my art and writing projects could fit nicely on a “stable” table, which was also my studio. It perched easily on my lap – that’s if a child wasn’t there already, and I could also quickly put my work up high, away from small hands when necessary – which was often! Though I always made sure they had their own art and writing materials to use.

Photo of an iPad
A “stable” table, with my iPad air 2 on it. A handy, compact studio!

Sometimes, I’d play about with a print: adding a top coat of an acrylic gel medium, some times I’d add a tint to the gel, and when it dried, I’d add a little more watercolour and so on..

Watercolour of orange peel
A colour copy of a watercolour, with some added tinted gel medium.

These days I have a bit more time and space for my art and words. Primarily I still work smallish – with some larger, usually canvas works thrown in occasionally. The size of an iPad screen quite suits my purposes. I began with a mini, and now use a iPad air 2. Hmm, maybe one day, I’ll get an iPad Pro, it may just fit on my “stable” table. Paul Longo certainly does some great work on his, you can see some of it at his blog, “portfoliolongo”.

I still use my “stable” table a lot; my iPad (with the attached logitech keyboard) fits on it nicely – and I still like to print some of my art. Of course a necessity, if I want to display my iPad artwork on my walls at home, or elsewhere.

A print of my iPad drawing or painting is the only way to give it a physical home. In this way, it is akin to a photographic image.

2/ Differences Between iPad art “Original” Prints, and “Reproduction” Prints

I’ve continually printed, in one way or another, some of my iPad artworks, since starting out on this adventure.

Each of my iPad art prints is an “original print”, not a “reproduction” print of a work in another medium. Not that each print is a unique, one of a kind, as in a “mono print”. But that each iPad artwork I choose to print, is only fully realised as a finished work, when it takes it’s home in print form.

Sometimes my iPad art has a “reproductive” component, where I scan in the beginnings of a drawing or painting on paper or canvas; then hand draw on it further in an art app, before printing it. The “Scanner Pro” app, has proved an excellent way for me to scan in my art. At times, I also add traditional media to my iPad art prints – a little more on this, further along in: “About prints I make at home”. *Some examples here, of where I’ve used the “Scanner Pro” app.

Ebay Original DIGITAL ART v. Reproductions

Little Gallery Carousel, What is an ‘Original Print’ ?

In traditional hand pulled prints, “proof prints” are made, and the “plate” or “matrix” – whether it’s a linocut, a lithographic stone, an etching plate.. – is adjusted accordingly, to get the final print result the artist wants.  Below is a link to a glossary of traditional (and some more modern) printmaking terms. International fine print dealers association Print Glossary.

I see the iPad artwork, within whatever art app I’m drawing or painting, as a “pixel plate”.

Paint pattern
A cropped slice of a larger iPad painting.

When I print one of my iPad artworks, I need to do “proof prints” and make any necessary changes (with my finger, which I prefer, rather than use a stylus) to the drawing or painting – the “pixel” plate – to get the print I want.

This I can do immediately when using an inkjet printer at home. With laser printing (which I initially used quite often) via an emailed pdf, to my local “Office Choice” store, I have to rework, resend and then check them again.

At one stage I laser printed a swatch of colours, from one of my favourite art apps “Art Set Pro” as a guide. Didn’t take me long, to fairly know how my art on the screen would look printed. Quite enjoy the whole process; particularly as the newer laser printers, along with using archival gloss and matt papers, do such a great job.

Although iPad art is a digital art form, and I’m essentially working with pixels, I don’t know anything about computer digital art, or photoshop. I rarely use a computer – for anything. I built this website on the iPad. Fortunately for iPad art I don’t need to have any of those skills. Drawing on my iPad feels like I’m just swapping a piece of paper, for another kind of another paper!

3/ About Inkjet/Giclee Printing – with links about open and limited print editions.

I’ve spent some time researching, what in particular, is required to make a good quality inkjet or giclee print – a term commonly used – which is fundamentally an inkjet print. Like other artists painting with pixels, I want to offer a good quality home for my digital artworks.
The term “Giclee” print is used to indicate a fine art quality print, printed on an inkjet printer, with:

  • fade resistant pigment inks;
  • with often six, eight or more colours,
  • on archival quality paper.

It was a term coined to differentiate these better quality prints, from earlier inkjet prints; which were of a poorer quality: in colour, paper, and inks – and usually prone to fading.

This Wikipedia link and those below, give thorough explanations of the origins and meaning, of the term.

The Art Of Hymn: Frequently asked Questions about Fine Art Prints

Colin Bailey Artist and Printmaker ( Limited Edition Prints Explained What is a Fine Art Giclee print

Epic Edits A closer look at limited editions

Briefly – quick out with the editor’s pen 🙂 – some points about “open” and “limited” edition prints – (more info in the links above). In digital printing, an artwork can be made available in an unlimited number of prints, these are commonly referred to as “open” edition prints. 

A “limited” edition, is as per the title, a limited print series of an artwork, often a digital “reproduction” print – of a work in another medium. But also a structure used for “original” artworks/prints by some photographers, digital artists; and for hand drawn artworks/prints on an iPad. This limitation allows for a series of prints of a specified number: ten (or less), twenty or more.. numbered, usually signed, and often sold with a certificate of authenticity. More info on these certificates in this article: How to make a certificate of Authenticity for artwork. This purposely imposed limitation, can make it more of a collectable, unique artwork.

In a hand pulled print edition, a limited edition is the usual course of things, as the “plate” will eventually wear out.

An “open” edition digital print, whether a “reproduction” or “original” print” is usually sold for a lower price than a “limited” edition print.

Drawing of woman's face
A print, of a quick sketch in “Tayasui Sketches 2”, and some paint in the “Art Set Pro” app.

FIDELIS ART PRINTS What is a Giclee Print? Describing Your Inkjet Printed Art “A prickly topic between artists, printmakers, dealers and art galleries”.

This article above, is a good overview of the recent history in the use of the term “giclee” and the need to clearly describe and define the various types of prints available through these newer print technologies. The confusion of which, has lead to (though not always deliberately) misinformation about a print: by art dealers and artists; and sometimes used for financial gain – not an uncommon practice in any field! A good point, as quoted below, made at the end of the article.

“And finally (this really isn’t a tip), your art is not worth more or less because it was printed digitally. Price your pieces fairly and always act with integrity in your business dealings. Ultimately, your art will sell because someone loves it—not how it was printed.” ~ Fidelis Art Prints

These relatively new technologies in digital printing are certainly a cost effective, and easy way for digital, traditional and iPad artists (and photographers) to print, and sell their “original” digital artwork, and also “reproductions” of any works on paper or canvas.

A printed cushion
A cushion, with my iPad art design, from my RedBubble shop. An online “print on demand” company.

4/ About Prints I Make at Home – updated January 2017.

I now do much of my iPad art printing myself. Though I still have some of it printed in the various ways as I’ve previously mentioned – laser, “print on demand” (which I use sparingly), and very occasionally through an excellent printing company: Code Ice Prints. When I outsource my iPad art for printing, I still keep a close eye on the overall quality of the prints. I don’t feel it detracts from the intrinsic value of my artwork (though others may dispute that). It was not an uncommon practice over the centuries, for artists to work closely with a Printer.

The Met Museum – The printed image in the West: History and Techniques

Before purchasing an inkjet printer, I again considered what makes a good quality art print. Some of which I’ve already mentioned.

  • Good image quality: colour, tone, contrast; which of course also has a lot to do with the artwork itself.
  • Usually produced on a printer, with six, eight or more inks.
  • Fade resistant pigment inks – though dye inks are improving all the time. I initially had a dye based printer.
  • Archival paper – the quality of the paper, I’ve discovered, can make all the difference to the colour and tonal qualities, of the print.

You can find a lot of information on these factors at Wilhelm Imaging Research

I looked into buying a epson P600 or a canon pixma Pro 10, however, I decided on an excellent quality, but a less expensive epson printer a: Workforce 3620 

Print of pears
Printed at home and placed into a simple black frame.

Importantly, it uses pigment ink. I also use a variety of  beautiful inkjet papers: Bockingford inkjet watercolour, Canson Rag Photographique, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, Washi – a bamboo paper: each one, has it’s own particular beauty, in how it brings out the colour and tones in an image. I’m also experimenting with using some non-inkjet watercolour papers and brown Kraft paper with pleasing results, and which more readily allow me to add traditional media to the print if I want to.

I also frequently use Epson Archival Matte paper, which gives and excellent print in colour and tone. I’m moving towards using more eco freindly papers, and have found some lovely paper at BuyEcoGreen.

Although this printer has only four inks, I don’t let that stop me getting the image print quality I want. To do this I make any neccesary colour and tonal adjustments (with my finger) on my iPad drawing or painting, during the proof printing stages.

When comparing one of my print images, with the same image from a more expensive outsourced print, it’s very difficult to discern any difference. I’m quite pleased with the excellent results! Another very good Epson printer I used previous to this one is the Ex – 420 – this also uses pigment ink. A less expensive option you may want to experiment with first – though a very faint roller mark can show on matt papers over 200gsm, and not really suitable for 300gsm matt paper.

I send just about all of my art to my Epson printer, via the “Pages” app – where I place borders on an image, or use various templates. There’s more info on this app towards the bottom of my page, “About Some Art apps, Other apps and My Books”. 

I use my iPad for all my printing and have searched around, and found various apps to help me do this. 

I offer my iPad art prints for sale at present, only locally. I plan to eventually sell some via my “Shop” page, along with a selection of my traditional art. I keep the framing simple, and also offer some in an archival clear sleeve, and add accompanying info, more or less as follows:

I print my iPad art with Epson archival pigment ink, onto fine art quality matt paper, with an inkjet printer. The materials used for this print give it a permanence of approx: 100yrs behind glass, as stated by Epson DURAbrite ultra ink on Epson matte paper heavy weight – or whatever the paper is that I use. *Adding an acid free mat board, or frame spacers, will prevent the print touching the glass, and further the archival properties. As with all artworks, best kept out of direct light.

The specifics may vary – I probably don’t need to have all that detail. I do like to make it clear, (mainly because of the previously poor longevitity qualities of many inkjet prints) that my prints are made with excellent fade resistant media. I’ll also state if it’s a laser print. I much agree with the quote a few paragraphs back, from “Fidelis Art Prints”.

I was pleased to also find this following article on Epson Durabrite ultra inks – at RedRiverPaper Premium Photo Inkjet Papers a series of test to simulate 51+ years of exposure,without glass.

Some traditional media I like to use on my prints (and on their own as well):

  • coloured pencil (Polychromos);
  • watercolour (Windsor and Newton, and Sennelier ) – water doesn’t make the pigment ink print run, but a light touch is best, so as not to cause the paper to buckle too much.
  • Acrylics and
  • gouache (Art Spectrum) … Sometimes I begin a work on canvas or paper, scan it in, add more to it in an art app, then print it – endless…… 🙂
  • As I mentioned, I’m sometimes using (non-inkjet) watercolour paper in the printer; both 180gsm and 300gsm – with great results! The print is not quite as vivid, which is fine, as I like to work on them further with watercolour (sometimes I also use coloured pencil) and do a small series of the same print image, varying the way I finish them. These can be called, a Variable Edition “VE” or Edition Variable “EV”.  With watercolour paper it’s much easier to work on my prints – as there’s no inkjet finish to impede the flow of the paint.

I look for good lightfastness, and archival qualities in pencils and paint, whether I use them on their own, or on a print. The media I’ve listed above works well over my inkjet prints, but not so well over a laser print, as the toner mostly repels it. However, I can work around this a bit by planning carefully (which I usually do anyway – making decisions about: composition, tone, colour…) and leaving some areas white, or of a lighter colour, in the art app drawing. This allows the laser print to more readily take up the traditional media. Laser printing comes in particularly handy for “A3” prints, as my inkjet printer only prints to A4 size. This suits me as I generally like to work A4 size and under; and I’m not planning to buy an A3 printer – as yet.

*”Big Photo”, is and excellent app to resample and increase the overall image pixel size. This allows for a much larger, yet still very good quality print. I used it mainly for images I’ve placed in my online shop. More about “Big Photo” and other apps I use, on my page, “About Some Art apps, Other apps, and My Books”.

Print of flowers
I printed this scanned in oil pastel, on my epson; and then added a bit of oil pastel, a gloss medium, and a satin varnish. Yay, no need for glass on the front.

5/ Art for All.

And finally, a link to this interesting article below, an offer of more “food for thought” – I found it a tantalising and agreeable piece.

Democratizing art “(The following piece was inspired by a provocative essay written by the late Edward C. Banfield in the April 1982 issue of Harper’s Magazine, “Art Versus Collectibles – Why Museums Should be Filled with Fakes.” Banfield was a professor at Harvard, not of art, but of government. The art world hated his proposals.)”

Thankful to God, for all my creative opportunities. 

If you touch on the following link, you will whizz back up, and land at my website’s front door – or if you prefer, drop by my “Blog”.

If you have any questions or enquiries, you are welcome to send me a message on my contact page, or via my Facebook Artist Page.

Thanks for visiting!

All images and text © 2016 -2017 Janette Leeds.

The various apps and products I share about, as well as any links listed, are to offer you information – which I hope you’d find helpful, and explore further. I’m not affiliated in any monetary way (would make it clear if this was the case) with the product developers or companies, nor do I neccessarily endorse all their products or practices – just saying. 🙂

11 thoughts on “Printing iPad Art

  1. Thanks for sharing all your hard work with us all. It’s a journey, and although I espouse the direct contact – one-off – aspect of pen brush etc to paper we should not be closed to any form of expression (been in printing as typesetter for 35 years) – have done photoshop but might get round to iPad yet, as its just another ‘ground’ – 😊- u might like to read an old blog of mine = Cerebral Fingertip Conduiting. – anyway – nice to make your acquaintance – keep up the excellent work – and experimentation. Have a good day KR

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ken, for stopping by to comment, and your kind words. I love what you do with your paint brush! My brushes are looking a little lonely – about due to have a dab about with them. It is fun, to paint or draw on just about any surface, or as you call it “ground”.
      Hope you get to do some art on an iPad, good fun. Such a high tech device, but drawing and painting on it, somehow manages to have quite a natural “feel”. Of course using good quality art app media, makes all the difference.
      Really enjoyed visiting your blog; so many interesting and thoughtful posts. Look forward to seeing more of them. Hope you have a good day too ~ Janette, God Bless

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Fred, glad to be of help. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂 I did sneak, “went” actually 🙂 over to your facebook page, and saw a little of your work – looks great! Hope you do get to print some up – it’s good fun. If you have an website, or an online portfolio, perhaps, you could put the link in the comment section here. It’d be great to see more of your work.
      Here’s a link to the “Mobile Art Academy” thought you’d enjoy seeing some other work by artists using iPads/iPhones, and android tablets… “ArtRage”, “Procreate” and others… sponsor their yearly “Mobile Digital Art and Creativity Summit”. All the best, with your future iPad art adventures. ~ Janette 🙂


  2. Interesting stuff Janette! Thanks for sharing your experience. I had some of my iPad art printed, and I was nearly always very pleased with the result. It is important that you check and judge the prints yourself, to be sure of the right colour and quality. For me, the most difficult part of the process to a work of art is the last part: presentation. How do you frame your print? It just makes all the difference. I prefer to look at the print with a protection layer that doesn’t show, in a solid frame without glass in front of it. The result is astonishing, but expensive. In the end fine art printing is not really cheaper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rob for your comment!
      I learnt lots doing the research for this page; and hope it’s a help to others. I agree, fine art printing isn’t cheap, and with the price of framing it can all get out of hand! I think the prints I make are fine art enough for me 🙂 and far more economical to make – which also frees me up to “play” more with the print. And I thoroughly enjoy all the processes. However, presentation though important, is not something I excel in… I’m most likely to just tack up a work unframed (traditional or iPad) or put it aside somewhere, and get on with the next one. I’ve not often exhibited my art, or had it for sale, though I may look into this more in the near future. However, I’m keen to keep the cost down, and I quite like the look of a simple (usually black) frame… no matt board, a white boundary showing around the print, or on a watercolour etc.. though pity it will need to have glass. 🙂 I know about the conservation aspects of framing, but I think perhaps the purchaser could look into that. Also, I’ll sometimes use a frame, with gloss gel medium on the print (and with care it can also be used over a gouache or watercolour painting) with a brush of satin varnish for the finish. The “protection” layer sounds great..though not sure what it is?
      I also have some A4 and A5 clear archival sleeves, which I can slip prints into, with cardboard backing for extra protection…plan to use them for online selling and/or in shops in my local area. On my “Shop Info” page I mention about plans for selling prints I make online, and about my RedBubble shop – which though not ideal for online selling, it has it’s good points. Well, I’ve just about written a blog post! I may mention more of all these areas on my blog…but don’t seem get time to write long posts these days. I really love your art Rob, and look forward to your future posts. All the best, Janette


  3. Hi Janet, Thanks for your reply. Indeed, I hadn’t noticed it yet. I like your experimenting attitude. In the future I might consider to buy my own printer to do just that. I have had one ten years ago in the pre-iPad age and used photoshopped images in combination with painting. At the moment I live a nomadic live, which makes it too complicated to have my own super printer. But the chances are that I will move back to my home country next year. We will see.
    About the protection layer: I know you can buy Sennelier HC 10 universal fixative or Hahnemühle Protective Spray (which seems to be the same as Talens Protective Spray 680). I just bumped into a framer who had developed his own spray and do it for me in a professional way. When you spray it yourself is not easy to spread it evenly on a larger surface. I really like your blog. Very interesting. Rob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rob, that spray sounds interesting… thanks for the info.. It’s great to meet up with another artist adventuring in the world of iPad art. I really enjoy your work – you have so much skill and talent! Look forward to seeing your future posts. 🙂 Cheerio ~ Janette


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