Printing iPad and Traditional Art

Art Print
A small selection of my art prints.

Pre – Ramble – I Mean Amble. 

As is common to most artists, I enjoy experimenting with various art media. In recent years I’ve investigated drawing on the iPad screen. Rather than use a stylus, I draw with my fingertip on the screen.

With this new media I draw much as I always have – rendering with my hand (and heart) the everyday world. This type of drawing still requires me to use the traditional drawing, and compositional skills I’ve learnt over many years.

To give my iPad drawings and paintings a physical home, it is of course necessary to print them. In this way they are akin to photographic images. It was important to me, to bring them into the world myself; and I explored how best to go about it.

I share here, (and in some blog posts) my: explorations, research, thoughts and experiences in: printing both my iPad artworks and my art in traditional media: watercolour, ink pen, pencil, acrylic…; and in the field of digital printing in general.

Sometimes I scan in (often using the “Scanner app”) my work on paper or canvas, into the iPad, and make a “reproductive” print. As well, I may bring the scanned in image into an art app, and draw on it further. Learning these new skills continues to be an exciting, creative, journey.

The iPad (with an attached keyboard) has become an invaluable tool for many of my creative ventures. I also built this website on it – I rarely use a computer for anything!

I hope you find this information helpful.

Points I Look At.

  1. Differences between iPad art “original” prints, and “reproduction“ prints.
  2. About digital/inkjet (giclee) printing – with links about “open” and “limited” print editions.
  3. About the prints I make myself: the printer, processes, and paper media I use – updated 2019.
  4. Art for all

I’m learning as I go along… I do recommend you read the (pretty green) links I’ve

Laser prints.
Laser prints.

sprinkled throughout this page, as they expand on some of the points I make. *Some are links to other websites. I don’t  necessarily agree with all their viewpoints.

I’ll keep this page updated with any info and links I find helpful; and hope it will also be a help to you.

I live in a small country town in Australia, and my website/blog is a great way to share my art and words. With the hope I can be a help and encouragement to fellow artists – and be inspired by others!

You are welcome to subscribe to my art posts here.

Thank you ahead of time, for ploughing through this rather long page.

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

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. I now use an iPad Pro.

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 mixed with the acrylic gel, and so on..

Watercolour of orange peel
A copy of one of my watercolours, with coating of 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 share more about apps I use, on my page, “Some App Information”.

I began with an iPad mini, moved onto an iPad Air 2, and now use an iPad Pro 10.5 – an excellent iPad; though all of them were great to use. I always have a keyboard attached, which makes things even easier. A fellow blogger, Paul Longo, certainly does some wonderful work on his iPad Pro, you can see some of it at his blog, “portfoliolongo”.

I still frequently use my “stable” table, and I still like to make “reproduction” prints of some of my work in traditional art media.

To bring a work on paper or canvas, into the iPad, I use an excellent app called, “Scanner Pro”. Sometimes I take a photo with the iPad camera. After a tidy up around the edges, and perhaps a touch of work added in an art app, usually “Procreate”, I can make a good quality reproductive print.

Woman’s face
Watercolour on paper, and some art app media. This has since, been printed onto A4 Canson 220 paper. I was pleased how the texture showed through.

Often I need to make further adjustments to the overall saturation of colours of a scan, so the print better matches the original – the paper I choose to print on directly impacts on these decisions.

I use the iPad for any editing or adjustments needed for printing purposes; and send my image to the printer from there as well. *More about these areas further along.

Sometimes, a scanned in artwork becomes the catylyst for a work very different to the original…

*This is a cropped section of my watercolour on paper. After I scanned it in, and cropped it, I added a little more ink pen and wash, using the media in Procreate – which you can see here in this video. It turned out well on the prints I made of it. I used the “Vont” app to add words to the video.

My art for printing is sent via my iPad, to my printer – more about that in section “3/ About prints I make myself.” I have some Art Prints available in my “Shop”.

I also select some of my art for my Red Bubble shop, mostly of a more pattern and illustrative style – which suits the items I have available there.

1/ 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, continues to be a great app to use for this purpose. It often captures more detail than the iPad camera.

At times, I also add traditional media to prints of my iPad art – a little more on this further along in section “3/ About prints I make myself.” *Some examples here, of where I’ve used the “Scanner Pro” app.

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 print 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 fingertip, which I prefer, rather than use a stylus) to the drawing or painting – the “pixel” plate – to get the print I want.

Usually, some adjustments in the Photo section on the iPad, are also made – more about this in section 3/.

This I can do immediately when using my inkjet printer at home; and is also a help as a preview, before I upload it to my Red Bubble shop.

With laser printing, which I initially used quite often,  I emailed my images as pdfs, to my local “Office Choice” store. Then after picking them up, I could see where I may have to rework them, before resending 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. It didn’t take long to fairly know how my art on the screen would look printed. I rarely use laser printing nowadays, as I find pigment ink on matte paper has the quality and look I prefer.

Gum leave drawing
This print of my pencil drawing showed a pleasing range of tones. Will tint a print with watercolour.

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. Fortunately for iPad art I don’t need to have any of those skills. Drawing on my iPad feels like I’m just swapping one kind of paper, for another kind of paper!

2/ About Digital/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 often a poorer quality: in colour, paper, and inks – usually prone to fading.

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

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 – 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. *I lean towards offering “open” edition prints, and “one of kind” prints – which are those with traditional media applied to the print, more on that in section 3/ below.

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.

There is a need to clearly describe and define the various types of prints available through these newer print technologies. As 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 below: unfortunately the page with this quote, is not on their site now, however, this is a link to the Fidelis Art Print website.

“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 an 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.

3/ About the Prints I Make Myself: the Printer, Processes, and Paper – updated 2019.

I do most of my own printing, but at times, I have some of my art printed in various ways: via my Red Bubble shop; from a pdf of an image sent to my local office supply shop (which I use sparingly); and occasionally through other printing services, one of which is an excellent printing company: Code Ice Prints.

When I outsource my art for printing, I keep a close eye on the overall quality of the prints. It was not an uncommon practice over the centuries, for artists to work closely with a professional Printer. I don’t see that it detracts from the intrinsic value of my art print.

Before purchasing an inkjet printer, I 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.
  • Fade resistant pigment inks  – though dye inks are improving all the time. I initially had a dye based printer.
  • Archival/acid free 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, and less expensive Epson printer a: Workforce 3620 – *now in 2020 I’m using a Workforce WF—7710 .

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

This one also prints on A3 size paper, a handy option. Importantly, it uses pigment ink . 

SOME OF THE PAPER I USE This printer can handle the thickness of a variety (up to 300gsm) of beautiful inkjet – and non ink jet papers: various watercolour papers: Arches, Daler-Rowney, Canson, Fabriano…, Canson 220gsm drawing paper, Bockingford inkjet watercolour paper, Canson Rag Photographique, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, Bamboo inkjet paper, Kozo (Mulberry) inkjet paper…. each one, has it’s own particular beauty in how it brings out the colour and tones in an image.

I’m keen to use eco friendly papers, and try to source from companies that have good environmental policies.

The WF 7710 printer has four ink colours, as opposed to six or more – however, I’m able to get an excellent quality print, in both colour and contrast. Partly due to the remarkable printhead technologies used in this printer – you can read more about it in a tech review, here.

Also, to get a successful print, I make any neccesary colour and tonal adjustments, during the proof printing stages. I do this with: the editing tools in the Photo section on the iPad, and sometimes working further on the art (both iPad and traditional) with some art app media, and/or rescanning in a traditional media artwork, after making some changes to it. *It’s common for an image to need some editing to get a good quality print.

Any differences between an image I’ve printed, and the same image of a print, from a more expensive (outsourced) printer (I looked into this early on in my print learning path) are quite difficult to discern – I’m really pleased with the results.

PAPER SETTINGS There’s quite a few paper settings for sizes, and you can do custom sizes. It also has a wide range of other settings: plain paper, high quality plain paper, semi-gloss and more.

I’ve tried the high quality plain paper setting for prints; however, for a high quality art print, the “Matte” setting gives the best result for the various papers I use (see above).

The lower cost of this printer and the inks, also allows me to feel less precious about adding traditional media to the print – something I often like to experiment with.

If you need to print larger than a A3 size, you can use an app called “Big Photo”. It resamples and increases the overall pixel size of an image, without losing any image quality in the print. I use it to increase the pixel size of my art on items in my Red Bubble shop. More about “Big Photo” (finding this app was a real blessing!) and other apps I use, on my page, “Some App Information”.

Steps I take to print an image at home

I send my art to my Epson printer, via my iPad. Firstly, I like to centre an image on a page, in an app called “Pages”, and leave a white border around it before printing it. *There are some handy templates in “Pages”. I use a few for making my Art cards

I centre the image, and allow for a border in the “Pages” app, and send it to the printer from there.

I use the LCD panel on the printer to put in my settings, which for an art print  (I use various high quality matte papers, see above) are: Matte paper, borderless, and A4, A5 or whatever size I want.

*Importantly, as I’ve mentioned, the paper you use directly impacts the final outcome of a print. You will need to make adjustments, in particularly to saturation levels (care taken here, because it’s easy to oversaturate an image) according to the paper you use. As always, artist proofs are necessary to help with these decisions.

I don’t like the quality of the print sent from the “Epson iPrint” app, so I just use it to check the ink levels, and I order ink through there. So far I’m very impressed with how long the inks last – I print regularly, and it’s months before I have to order any.

In a nutshell the below paragraph describes the prints, I make at home.

I print my iPad and traditional art with high quality, fade resistant inks; onto eco friendly, acid free matte 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 paper. And on other papers, without glass, fade resistant up to 51+ years, as per this article:  RedRiverPaper Premium Photo Inkjet Papers a series of test to simulate 51+ years of exposure, without glass.

I much agree with the quote a few paragraphs back in section 2/, from “Fidelis Art Prints”.

As well as having art for sale locally, I have some of my art available on this website, in my shop.

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

  • coloured pencil (Polychromos); Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils, “Pablo” Caran d’Ache coloured pencils.
  • watercolour (Windsor and Newton, and Sennelier ) – water doesn’t make the pigment ink print run.
  • Acrylics and gouache.
  • 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 mentioned, I often use (non-inkjet) watercolour paper (and some drawing paper, particularly Canson 220gsm paper) in the printer; both 180gsm and 300gsm – with great results!
  • The non-inkjet papers (some are %100 cotton) work not only well for stand alone prints, but are excellent for further work on the print with traditional art media. If I saturate the colour and adjust contrasts, etc –  in “Photos” on the iPad –  a print looks equivalent in quality to the prints on inkjet paper. Also, I love how the various paper grains show through.
  •  I enjoy doing a small series of prints of the same image, and varying the way I use traditional media on them. These can be called, a Variable Edition “VE” or Edition Variable “EV”.
  • With watercolour and drawing paper, it’s much easier to work on a print, because there’s no inkjet finish to impede the flow of the paint, or the effectiveness of graphite or coloured pencil…

I look for good lightfastness, and archival qualities in whatever art media I use.

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

4/ 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 have any questions or enquiries, you are welcome to send me a message via my Contact page.

Thanks for visiting!

All images and text © 2014 -2019 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.
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13 thoughts on “Printing iPad and Traditional 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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