Free Printable Wall Art: How to Print and Display Printables
Free wall art printables are my favorite pieces to create for you. I want you to love them as much as I do, so I'm hoping to answer all your questions about the best way to print, frame, hang, and/ or display printable wall decor. After all, what's the point to a free print, if it doesn't look like a million bucks? In this post, I'll address common issues that come up, things that can go wrong, and what to do about it all.
These tips come from years of experience printing my own art, designing production files for printing, and lots of trial and error! If I miss a question you have, please let me know and I'll do my best to help you out.
First, you'll need to successfully download your free printable.
When you fill out the form, a message will come up telling you where to click to access the file. I’m not sure why, but Squarespace does not allow this link to appear like a link. Trust me though, if you click it, you will get the file. That said, there have been times when my site didn’t cooperate. So, if you've filled out the form, clicked the text, but the download isn't working, send me an email. I've helped out a few of you, either with a simple fix, or by creating a personalized dropbox with the desired files placed into it. I'm always happy to help.
Now that you have your files downloaded, you’ll want to resize them for your needs.
How to resize your printables and wall art for home printers:
All the downloads on my site are optimized for home printers, but you can still resize things for your particular needs. Let's use the Free Succulent Wall Art set as an example.
These files are sized 8 x 10" or 8.5 x 11" , but as you can see I've printed this set in different sizes. All printables can be scaled down as small as you like, however, not all of them can be scaled up and still print well. I save my FREE download files thinking most of you will print them on your home printer. Because of this, the free artwork is usually saved for you at 150 DPI. That is the optimal print resolution for home ink-jet printers.
Don't get overwhelmed here, all you need to know is that you have enough resolution to get a great print! A few freebies, and all paid downloads are saved at 300 DPI. At this resolution, you can enlarge a file to twice its size for home-printer printing and not lose any quality. That's right, an 8 x 10" print can become 16 x 20", assuming your home printer can take that sheet size. Most people think they need 300 dpi for printing, but that's because it is an industry standard for offset presses. This is why paid downloads are typically a higher resolution. This way users can enlarge and have more options as to how to use their files.
You can resize your printables a couple different ways:
If you don't have any editing software, you can simply adjust sizing in your printer dialogue box in Preview (a Mac standard, and what's shown below) or Acrobat. Take a look at my screenshots. Notice that even with my US Letter sized paper selected, I can still scale the print up. At 150% on this print, the text becomes a stronger focal point (shown on the left), and the image is still nice even though a lot of it will be cut off. This is why scaling up can be great even if you don't want to make the sheet size bigger. On the right, you can see that I can scale down to a greeting card size by reducing the scale to 50%. Finally, if you're trying this, but can't see these options, click the box on the bottom left that says "Show Details". (It will say "Hide Details" once it's been clicked.)
However, if you do have editing software, you'll have better and more precise options. I prefer Photoshop. After you open the file, simply go to Image> Resize> Image Size and make the appropriate changes.
Now, let's talk about the printer color settings a bit:
I optimize my downloads for you assuming you'll be printing them on popular home, inkjet printers or on a digital press. My settings will give the best result to the largest group of people. If you are printing in another way, you may want to adjust the print settings based on the destination (type of printer). If you are using a printing service, you can ask them for help, letting them know the settings are optimized for digital printing. They should be able to adjust things for you on their end. If you are printing on an offset press, you’ll need to convert the files to CMYK. Again, your printer can help you with this if you can’t do it.
As for paper, I really love to print watercolors on uncoated watercolor paper, but it's the most difficult to get a good result. Smooth, coated, photo papers offer the most consistently good quality, and vibrant printouts. If you want to try your hand at uncoated, matte looks, try selecting that paper option in your printer's dialogue box. Then cross your fingers, say a little prayer, and hope for the best! Adjust the settings as needed. If the colors are muddy, a common problem with uncoated papers, it’s because too much ink is being put out, and the colors are bleeding and mixing a bit. Try reducing the ink output to solve this problem. Hopefully these tips result in gorgeous printouts ready to be displayed.
Inexpensive ideas for displaying free wall art:
If you are trying to keep your home decorating inexpensive, there are a lot of cheap ways to display wall art. These ideas are all much less expensive than even the lowest cost frames (which by the way are thrift store or tag sale frames!). I love the boho look of the watercolored succulents above just taped to the wall. For a little more structure, try a clipboard, like shown in below. (Get the free print here.) I’ve even used vintage hangers in the past. You can often find them at tag sales and second hand stores really cheap. I love them with these halloween wall decor prints.
I love these wall decor display options because you can change them out so easily! It's great for seasonal printables, and people like me who get bored quickly!
I hope I've got you inspired to put up some art. If you do, I'd love to see how it turns out for you. Tag me on Instagram!
Have a great day,