hand-painting prints

Sometimes I feel like just making prints of a painting isn’t enough.

I feel like- man when I buy stuff, I buy prints because I like the artist but can’t afford a bigger piece- but I always feel like it’s not as good as an original. So I end up kind of going halfway sometimes, and painting over a print of my own work.

I’ll do the painting first.

I did this in watercolor and colored pencil on plain tinted paper,then painted over the prints with blood and white highlights.

If you plan to try this, make sure your original art has decent contrast and a solid area or three where detail or added color would add, rather than detract, from it.

further instructions after the break:



I scan at 600 dpi every time. This gives me some leeway with print size. After scanning the original, I go to town on it in photoshop. I made these boxing girls, who were originally pink, blue. You can do an exact print if you like, or alter it in any way that suits you. Usually I do an exact print and then add detail with ink and pencil afterward.

Up your contrast– you want the original, the print layer, to show through the rest of the work you do on it.

in this picture you can see how the red and blue I painted over with have lightened the black in some areas.
then print it out- let the print dry TOTALLY dry before you paint over it. if you plan to use non-water-based media, you can even use some fixative on the print before you start.

If you can, use printer inks which are light- and water-proof. I like the epson archival, since they are matte, and deep, and they’re very lightfast. Also once they have dried on the paper a bit of water won’t smudge them.

I use liquid acrylics (FW brand), waverly inks, and prismacolor pencil. The warm colors are translucent, so the black isn’t lightened by them-

but the cold tones are a bit opaque, so be sure you test out the opacity of your paints or inks before you start.

I found that I liked the reds the best, so I ended up making everything extra in reds.

I usually make really small runs of prints anyway, so doing six or ten of these is no problem.

I do each one slightly differently, that feels more…more like art, to me.

Each one is partly original and partly repro.

I sign and number them like regular prints, but I feel like they’re a bit more alive than something that has exact copies.

To finish them I spray over with a very thin layer of UV sealant, matte finish. That’s it- it’s not hard at all.

If you don’t draw you could always find old public domain photos or art to print out and paint over. Just make sure the DPI is high enough for you to print properly.