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🖨️ 20 Picks: Best Printer for Graphic Design and Graphic Designers in 2024 (Laser & Inkjet)

Iva Mikles
🖨️ 20 Picks: Best Printer for Graphic Design and Graphic Designers in 2024 (Laser & Inkjet)

As a graphic designer, having the right printer is crucial for bringing your creative visions to life. From printing proofs to final projects, you need a printer that can handle all the images, illustrations, and graphics-heavy files you routinely work with.

So in this post, I’ll share my picks for the best printers for graphic design – covering both inkjet and laser printers. My goal is to help you find the perfect graphic design printer that aligns with your unique needs and budget. Let’s have a look:

Inkjet printers
Budget Graphic PrinterEpson EcoTank
Budget A3 Graphic Printer #1Canon Pixma iX
Budget A3 Graphics Printer #2Canon Pixma IP
Budget A3 Graphic Printer #3Epson Expression XP
Budget All-in-one Graphic PrinterHP OfficeJet Pro
All-in-one A3 Graphic Printer #1Epson EcoTank
All-in-one A3 Graphic PrinterEpson EcoTank
Most Popular A3 Graphic PrinterCanon Pixma Pro
Archival A3 Graphic PrinterCanon imagePROGRAF
Archival A2 Graphic PrinterEpson SureColor
Professional Graphic PrinterHP DesignJet
Laser printers
Budget Monochrome Graphic Laser Printer #1HP LaserJet-Tank
Budget Black & White Graphic Laser Printer #2Brother MFC
Budget Monochrome Laser Graphic Printer #3Lexmark B
Budget Color Graphic Laser PrinterLexmark C
Best Value Color Laser Graphic Printer #1Brother Color Laser Printer
Best Value Color Laser Graphic Printer #2Canon imageCLASS
High Yield Color Graphic Laser PrinterHP Color LaserJet Pro
Studio Color Laser Graphic PrinterHP Color LaserJet Enterprise

Overview: Best Printers for Graphic Design

Budget
Budget A3 (5 colors)
Budget A3 (6 colors)
Budget (6 colors)
Budget All-in-one
Ink Tank
Ink Tank +
Ink Tank ++
My Pick
Archival/Giclée
Archival/Giclée
24″ Large Format
Budget B&W
Budget B&W
Budget B&W
Budget Color
Color
Color
Color ++
Studio

Best Inkjet Printers for Graphic Design

First up are inkjet printers. Known for their versatility, inkjets excel at printing high quality photos, graphics, and illustrations with precise color accuracy. They are ideal for printing test prints, drafts, proofs, and final versions of graphic design projects. Here are my top recommendations in various price ranges.

Budget Graphic Printer: Epson EcoTank ET-2800

Budget Pick
Epson EcoTank ET-2800 Color Printer with Scanner

Epson Budget Pick for Art Prints, Stickers, Vinyl, Cricut, and Transfer paper

4-color dye-based ink tank system :: 5770×1440 DPI :: Prints up to 8.5″×47.2″ (A4+++) :: Scanner 1200x2400 DPI :: Supports vinyl stickers :: Late 2021 model :: Wireless & AirPrint :: Hybrid dye-based & pigment-based (BK) model: ET-2850

The Epson EcoTank ET-2800 is a supertank all-in-one printer geared for home offices and small businesses on a budget. It has a compact, space-saving design with surprisingly low running costs thanks to its refillable ink tank system.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Very low ink costs – pennies per page➖ Smaller 100 sheet paper tray capacity
➕ Exceptional print quality for the price➖ Lacks support for specialty media like canvas or thicker stock
➕ Reliable performance
➕ Easy to set up and use
➕ Compact, flexible design

Overall, the Epson EcoTank ET-2800 delivers stunning print quality rivaling more expensive models. If you’re looking for an affordable, high-performing inkjet for printing graphic design drafts, illustrations, and more – it’s tough to beat.

Budget A3 Graphic Printer #1: Canon Pixma iX6820

Value Pick
Canon Pixma iX6820/6850 13″ Color Inkjet Printer

Value Pick for Art Prints, Stickers, Vinyl, Transfer paper, and Transparencies

5-color hybrid dye- and pigment-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports transparencies and vinyl stickers :: Max paper thickness: 6mil (0.15mm) :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

The Canon Pixma iX6820 is an excellent choice for designers needing the ability to print borderless, gallery-quality images and graphics up to A3+ size. Despite the low price, it doesn’t compromise on professional-level output.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Surprisingly affordable for A3+ printing➖ No specialty media support
➕ Vibrant, accurate color reproduction➖ Smaller ink cartridges mean higher long-term costs
➕ Crisp details and clarity in prints
➕ Reliable performance from Canon
➕ Compact, sleek design

If you need the flexibility of larger A3+ printing capabilities without the premium price tag, the Canon Pixma iX6820 delivers impressive value and quality. It’s a great budget choice for graphic design students or freelancers.

Budget A3 Graphics Printer #2:Canon Pixma IP8720

Value Pick
Canon Pixma IP8720/IP8750 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Value Pick for Art Prints, Stickers, Vinyl, Cricut, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports vinyl stickers :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint :: Alternative name IP8750

Stepping up to the Canon Pixma IP8720 gets you a more advanced A3+ printer with expanded media handling capabilities while still keeping costs down. It’s ideal for graphic designers needing to print posters, flyers, presentations and more in larger formats.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Low cost for A3+ printing➖ Smaller ink cartridges mean higher long-term costs
➕ Vibrant, accurate color
➕ Sharp details and print quality
➕ Versatile media handling
➕ User-friendly operation

With exceptional print quality rivaling more advanced models, the Canon Pixma IP8720 is one of the best values for A3 graphic design printing on a budget.

Budget A3 Graphic Printer #3: Epson XP-15000

Budget Pick
Epson Expression XP-15000 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

The Epson XP-15000 takes wide-format printing to the next level with wireless connectivity, two paper trays, and the ability to print up to 1-meter long banners – all at a very affordable price point.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Very low cost for A3+ and banner printing➖ Smaller ink cartridges mean higher long-term costs
➕ Vibrant, accurate color➖ Lacks CD/DVD printing
➕ Sharp details and image quality
➕ Versatile paper handling
➕ Convenient wireless connectivity

With exceptional print quality and versatile wide-format capabilities, the Epson XP-15000 delivers tremendous value for graphic designers on a tight budget.

Budget All-in-one Graphic Printer: HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e

All-in-one Pick
HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e Wireless Color All-in-One Printer

All-in-one Pick for Cardstock and Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

4-color pigment-based ink system :: 4800×1200 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 8.5″×11″ (A4) :: Max paper thickness: bottom feed tray 90lb - 110lb / 245gsm - 300gsm Cover cardstock :: Early 2021 model :: Wireless & AirPrint :: BONUS 6 months Instant ink with HP+

The HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e is a budget-friendly all-in-one geared for freelancers and home offices. Despite the low price, it provides professional quality printing, copying, scanning and fax capabilities.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Very affordable price➖ Max paper size 8.5”x14”
➕ Reliable print quality➖ No specialty media support
➕ Good print speeds
➕ Wireless networking built-in
➕ Compact, space-saving design

For freelancers and home offices needing an economical all-in-one with wireless printing, scanning, faxing and more – the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e is a great choice for everyday graphic design tasks.

All-in-one A3 Graphic Printer #1: Epson EcoTank ET-8550

Eco Pick
Epson EcoTank ET-8550 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Eco All-in-one Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color hybrid dye-based & pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: 4800x1200 scan resolution :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 50mil (1.3mm) manually :: Early 2021 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

The Epson EcoTank ET-8550 takes wide-format all-in-one printing to the next level with incredibly low ink costs and the ability to print up to A3+ sizes borderlessly. It’s ideal for design professionals needing to print posters, presentations, photos and more in-house.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Incredibly low ink costs – pennies per print➖ Larger space required
➕ Stunning print quality
➕ Versatile A3+ printing
➕ Large touchscreen display
➕ 500 sheet paper capacity

With its supertank ink system and wide-format printing, the Epson EcoTank ET-8550 delivers exceptional value for design studios ready to bring affordable high-volume A3+ printing in-house.

All-in-one A3 Graphic Printer: Epson EcoTank ET-16600 (alternative ET-15000)

Taking wide-format printing to the next level, the Epson EcoTank ET-16600 offers incredible print speeds up to A3+ size all with ultra-low ink costs. It’s the perfect in-house workhorse printer for busy design firms and professionals.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Blazing fast print speeds➖ Larger space required
➕ Ultra-low ink costs
➕ Vibrant, accurate color
➕ Versatile wide-format printing
➕ High 500 sheet paper capacity

With exceptional speeds, low operating costs, and A3+ printing, the Epson EcoTank ET-16600 is a workhorse for design professionals with high volume wide-format printing needs.

Alternatively consider: the Epson EcoTank ET-15000 which offers similarly impressive performance and value with a slightly more compact size.

My Pick
Canon Pixma PRO-200 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl and Transfer paper

8-color dye-based ink system :: 4800×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 23.6mil (0.6mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

The Canon Pixma Pro 200 is a longtime favorite for graphic designers needing professional quality A3+ printing combined with compact size and reasonable costs. It continues to deliver exceptional performance and reliability.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Compact 13” wide size➖ Lack of document scanning or copying
➕ Stunning photo print quality➖ Significant ink costs over time
➕ Vibrant, accurate colors
➕ Professional media handling
➕ Reliable workhorse printer

With its stellar image quality and wide-format printing capabilities, it’s easy to see why the Canon Pixma Pro 200 remains a tried-and-true favorite for graphic design professionals.

Archival A3 Graphic Printer: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

Compact
Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Great for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 4800×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 23.6mil (0.6mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

When your graphic design projects demand gallery-level quality and durability, the Canon imagePROGRAF-300 delivers professional, archival A3+ prints with vivid colors, sharp details, and fade-resistant longevity.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Gallery-quality prints➖ Larger size
➕ Vivid, accurate colors➖ No scanning/copying capabilities
➕ Impressive sharpness and clarity➖ High ink costs over time
➕ Archival prints last over 100 years
➕ Professional media handling

With its archival-quality pigment inks and fade-resistant prints, the Canon imagePROGRAF-300 lets graphic designers create durable, gallery-worthy reproductions of their artwork and designs.

Archival A2 Graphic Printer: Epson SureColor P900

Art Studio Pick
Epson SureColor P900 17″ Inkjet Color Printer

Art Studio Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 17×22 (A2+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 60mil (1.5mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Smaller version: SureColor P700 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

For graphic artists and photographers needing archival print quality in a larger A2 (17”) format, the Epson SureColor P900 delivers stunningly accurate color and incredible fine detail worthy of being displayed in galleries.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Remarkable print quality➖ Significant physical size
➕ Vivid, accurate colors➖ High ink costs over time
➕ Impressive clarity and fine details➖ No scanner or copier functions
➕ Archival prints last over 200 years
➕ Professional 17” media handling

For artists and graphic designers wanting to reproduce their creations in stunning detail at larger sizes, the Epson SureColor P900 delivers impressive archival-quality results worthy of gallery display.

Professional Graphic Printer: HP DesignJet Z6 24”

When you need a professional-grade large format printer for reproducing graphics, illustrations, presentations, and more up to 24” wide, the HP DesignJet Z6 24” offers impressive speed, quality, and capabilities.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Blazing fast print speeds➖ Significant physical size
➕ Vivid, accurate colors➖ High ink costs over time
➕ Handles heavy print loads with ease➖ Lacks scanning/copying capabilities
➕ Versatile media handling up to 24” wide
➕ Advanced security features

With exceptional print quality and blistering fast speeds, the HP DesignJet Z6 24” powers through high-volume graphic design projects with ease allowing you to bring production in-house.

Best Laser Printers for Graphic Design

Now let’s look at top laser printer recommendations for graphic design professionals. Known for speed, sharpness, and efficiency – laser printers excel at printing documents, illustrations, architectural plans and more. Here are my picks for the best laser printers for graphics use across budget levels.

Budget Monochrome Graphic Laser Printer #1: HP LaserJet-Tank MFP 2604sdw

The HP LaserJet-Tank MFP 2604sdw provides an unbeatable combination of fast monochrome printing, scanning, and ultra-low operating costs – perfect for budget-conscious designers.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Blazing fast print speeds➖ Monochrome printing only
➕ Pennies per page printing costs➖ Max 8.5”x14” paper size
➕ Crisp, sharp monochrome prints
➕ Compact, space-saving size

With impressive speeds, low operating costs, and reliable performance, the HP LaserJet-Tank MFP 2604sdw is a smart choice for budget-friendly monochrome printing.

Budget Black & White Graphic Laser Printer #2: Brother MFC L2710DW

Laser - Monochromatic
Brother MFC L2710DW Monochrome Laser Printer

Monochrome Laser Printer Pick for Cardstock

Monochromatic toner system :: 2400×600 DPI :: Up to 8.5″×14″ / A4 prints :: Max paper thickness: manual feed Cover ±90lb / ±245gsm :: Late 2017 :: Wireless & AirPrint

The Brother MFC-L2710DW delivers fast monochrome printing and all-in-one functionality in a compact size at an affordable price point. It’s great for general home office tasks and basic graphic design work.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Compact, space saving design➖ Monochrome printing only
➕ Affordable purchase price➖ Small paper capacity
➕ Fast monochrome print speeds
➕ Wireless networking built-in
➕ Reliable performance

An excellent starter monochrome laser for home and student use, the Brother MFC-L2710DW delivers impressive value.

Budget Monochrome Laser Graphic Printer #3: Lexmark B3442dw

Lexmark B3442dw Black and White Laser Printer

Wireless with Ethernet, Mobile-Friendly and Cloud Connection with Automatic Two-Sided Printing CarbonNeutral Certified Office Printer (4-Series)

The Lexmark B3442dw monochrome laser printer provides blazing fast print speeds up to 47 pages per minute combined with enhanced 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution and robust paper handling – perfect for high productivity printing.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Extremely fast print speeds➖ Monochrome printing only
➕ Sharp, detailed monochrome prints➖ Larger size
➕ High paper input capacity
➕ Robust media handling
➕ Network ready

With industrial-level speeds and robust performance, the Lexmark B3442dw powers through high-volume monochrome print jobs with ease.

Budget Color Laser Graphic Printer: Lexmark C3326dw

Lexmark C3326dw Color Laser Printer

 with Ethernet, Mobile-Friendly, Wireless Office Printer with Automatic Two-Sided Printing (3-Series)

The Lexmark C3326dw color laser printer offers stunning print quality with vibrant color and crisp detail combined with fast print speeds and 2-sided printing convenience at an affordable price point.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Fast color print speeds➖ Smaller capacity paper tray
➕ Vibrant, accurate color➖ Lacks LCD touchscreen controls
➕ Automatic two-sided printing
➕ Compact size
➕ Budget-friendly purchase price

With its impressive print quality and speed, the Lexmark C3326dw delivers a lot of bang for the buck for home office color printing needs.

Best Value Color Laser Graphic Printer #1: Brother HL-L8360CDW

Brother Color Laser Printer HL-L8360CDW

Wireless Networking, Automatic Duplex Printing, Mobile Printing, Cloud Printing, Amazon Dash Replenishment Ready

The Brother HL-L8360CDW color laser printer offers exceptional print quality with vivid colors and sharp detail combined with fast 31 page per minute print speeds, robust paper handling, and 2-sided printing – all at an outstanding value.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Fast color print speeds➖ Larger size
➕ Vibrant, accurate color➖ High operating costs over time
➕ 500 sheet paper capacity
➕ Automatic two-sided printing
➕ Impressive value for performance

With impressive speeds, vibrant quality and robust paper handling, the Brother HL-L9360CDW delivers exceptional productivity and value.

Best Value Color Laser Graphic Printer #2: Canon ImageCLASS MF644Cdw

The Canon ImageCLASS MF644Cdw provides stunning color print quality and speed along with robust paper handling and finishing options like booklet printing – perfect for graphic design professionals.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Beautiful color print quality➖ Slightly slower print speeds
➕ Versatile media handling➖ Larger size
➕ Booklet finishing capabilities
➕ Large touchscreen display
➕ Impressive value

The Canon ImageCLASS MF644Cdw offers tremendous value and capabilities for professional color printing and finishing.

High Yield Color Graphic Laser Printer: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw

When your high-volume color printing needs demand maximum efficiency, the HP Color LaserJet Pro M479fdw keeps productivity high and operating costs low thanks to ultra-high yield toner cartridges.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Blazing fast color print speeds➖ Significant upfront investment
➕ Vibrant, accurate color➖ Large size
➕ Ultra-high-yield toner cuts costs
➕ Robust paper handling
➕ Advanced security features

Boasting extreme speeds, low operating costs, and advanced features – the HP Color LaserJet Pro M479fdw powers busy professionals through high-volume color printing workloads.

Studio Color Laser Graphic Printer: HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn

For professional graphic design teams that print high volumes of color documents like presentations, charts, infographics and more – the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn offers next-level performance, crisp quality and robust paper handling to keep productivity at peak levels.

Best for:

Key features:

ProsCons
➕ Blazing fast 45 ppm print speeds➖ Significant upfront cost
➕ Vibrant, accurate color➖ Large size
➕ Huge 2,200 sheet input capacity➖ Lacks copying/scanning
➕ Advanced toner for sharp detail
➕ Made for high-volume print production

With industrial-level speeds, huge paper capacity, and vibrant results – the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M751dn powers through massive color print jobs with ease.

Here is a section on main criteria for choosing a graphic printer with headings and paragraphs for each criterion:

Main Criteria for Choosing a Graphic Printer

When selecting a printer specifically for graphic design work, there are several key factors to consider that will impact performance, quality, and your productivity. Here are the top criteria to weigh when choosing a graphic design printer:

For graphic design, print quality is paramount. You’ll want a printer that can achieve at least 600 x 600 dpi for sharp details, vivid color, and accuracy needed for logos, photos, illustrations and more. Many pro graphic design printers offer even higher resolutions of 2400 x 1200 dpi or more.

Look for models that use at least 4 ink colors for a wide color gamut. Extra ink colors like light gray, gray, photo black, matte black and red or orange can enhance print quality too. Review sample prints to see fine details and check for banding in gradients which cheap printers often struggle with.

Productivity matters! Print speed determines how quickly you can print documents, proofs, posters and more. For home offices, 10-15 pages per minute (ppm) is reasonable. But pro graphic designers will want closer to 24 ppm for black and white and 15 ppm for color prints.

High-volume corporate or agency work calls for blazing fast laser printers capable of 45 ppm or more. Avoid models under 10 ppm if printing large projects. Speed means you don’t have to wait around for output.

Media Handling

The ability to print on different paper types and sizes expands creative options. Look for printers with at least 500 sheet input capacity and the ability to handle thicker cardstock, glossy photo paper, and larger formats like 13”x19”. Auto feed for specialty media allows printing posters, art prints, and more in-house.

For big projects, expandable input trays are handy. Look for rear media feeds which allow printing banners up to 1-meter long. Versatile media support means you can offer clients more print options.

Operating Costs

Printers aren’t cheap to operate between ink, toner and maintenance. For home use, ink tank printers provide ultra-low costs per page. Laser printers offer lower maintenance and toner has a lower cost per page over ink. Seek models with high yield replacement cartridges/tanks.

Automatic two-sided printing saves paper. Subscription ink plans can simplify costs. For studios, calculate cost per print based on expected monthly volumes to determine the most cost-efficient options. Cheaper printers have much higher operating expenses over time.

Connectivity

Most printers today offer USB, WiFi and Ethernet connectivity for flexible printing from computers. But also consider features like Wi-Fi Direct for printing from mobile devices, NFC tap-to-print from smartphones, and apps like AirPrint or compatibility with Chromebooks.

The ability to print direct from USB flash drives, SD cards, or cloud services can also be handy for graphic designers on the go. If printing from Macs, ensure the printer fully supports macOS drivers as well.

Choosing a printer that aligns with your specific graphic design needs ensures you have the right tool for the job. Weigh these key criteria careful when buying your next graphic printer! Let me know if you have any other questions.

How Do Color Laser Printer and Inkjet Printer Work?

Laser Printers:

Inside a laser printer, there is a photosensitive drum that is given a uniform negative charge by a charging roller.

A laser beam then scans across this drum to draw the image to be printed. The laser neutralizes the negative charge on the parts of the drum it hits.

Positively charged toner particles are then attracted to the now neutral parts of the drum, forming the image.

The toner image is then transferred onto paper by electrostatic attraction as the paper passes below the drum.

Finally, the toner is fused and permanently affixed to the paper by heated rollers, resulting in the printed image.

The toner itself is stored in replaceable cartridges that contain the 4 color components: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).

As the paper makes four passes through the printer, each color of toner is precisely applied in turn. The overlapping colors blend to create the full spectrum of hues in the final image.

Laser printers are fast, high quality, but the toner is relatively expensive.

Inkjet Printers:

Inside an inkjet printer, there is a print head with hundreds of tiny nozzles.

Each nozzle can fire droplets of ink on command. The ink droplets are electrically charged to control their flow precisely.

Depending on the image to be printed, the print head controller will selectively fire the nozzles, spraying dots of ink onto the paper.

Some inkjets use a heating element to vaporize the ink, forcing droplets out of the nozzles.

The position of the ink droplets is also controlled by electrostatic deflection plates in the print head.

By changing the charge on the deflection plates with each droplet, they can be aimed to hit precise locations on the paper. As the paper moves past the print head, these ink dots build up to form text or images.

Most inkjet printers have separate ink cartridges for cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

The blending of these colored inks allows for photorealistic image printing.

Inkjets are inexpensive, with very high print quality, but ink costs are high.

Helpful Guide: How to Create Amazing Print Designs

Define Your Edges with Trim and Bleed

Trim is an essential concept for professional printing results.

It refers to the final cut edges of your printed piece. For example, the edges of a standard business card are the trim. Trim is indicated in your file by crop marks, which are thin lines in the corners.

Your printer uses these crop marks to identify where to trim each individual piece they are printing from a larger sheet.

Understanding bleed is also critical.

Bleed is the ink that extends past the trim line, usually by 1/8 inch. Bleed is necessary because any images or colors that print up to the edge of the trim line need to continue past it.

This allows the printer to make any small adjustments needed in binding or finishing without risking any white edges showing. It also accounts for small tolerances in the manufacturing process. Extending color into the bleed area prevents white edges when the final trimming occurs.

CMYK Creates Full Color

CMYK stands for the 4 process ink colors – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (the K comes from key).

These inks are mixed to create a wide range of colors for full color printing. When people refer to “full color” printing, they mean using CMYK inks. Anything from brochures to photos to booklets can be produced in full-color CMYK.

The range of colors possible makes CMYK ideal for most standard print jobs that need photographic images or complex colors.

CMYK inks are also called process colors because they work together to form a process for combining colors.

Since they create a broad gamut of colors, most print jobs only require CMYK rather than specialty inks. When you’re exporting print files, make sure your colors are formatted correctly for CMYK. Keeping colors strictly, CMYK avoids unexpected ink colors or shifts happening on press.

Avoid Light/Halftone Areas

Subtle gradients, light coverage areas, and halftones often show print defects.

Aim for 60-80% coverage in colors for best results. Under 10% coverage risks ghosting and color shift. Light colors reproduce inconsistently across presses.

When possible, avoid gradients, subtle textures, and low coverage tints. Rely on rich solids with sufficient density for cleaner digital printing.

Match Colors Precisely with Pantone

Pantone is a standardized color matching system used for printing.

It allows designers to achieve an exact match for any Pantone color, no matter where it is printed. This ensures a logo or brand color will look identical on printed materials in any country.

Pantone guides, available in both coated and uncoated versions, provide precise specifications for each Pantone color. They are essential tools for print designers.

Specialty options like metallics and fluorescents are only available using Pantone inks.

Pantone also allows better control of bright saturated colors that don’t print well in CMYK.

When you need a specific fixed color for your print project, Pantone ensures you will get accurate consistent results across any printer or geography.

For precise color every time, Pantone can’t be beat.

Outline Black Text

Small black text often appears fuzzy in digital print. Registration issues and lack of density in dark colors causes blurring.

100% solid black text ensures sharpness. Avoid CMYK mixed blacks for small text. Also, outline fonts in layout programs like InDesign.

For best definition in type, use true blacks. Enable font outlining, and keep text heavy density for crisp consistent results across presses.

Maintain Image Clarity with 300dpi

For professional print quality, your images need sufficient resolution.

Standard offset and digital printing requires files to be 300dpi (dots per inch). This resolution provides clear, crisp images when printed.

Anything below 300dpi risks visible pixelation and blurry print results. For all print projects, it’s essential to have photographs and raster artwork created at 300dpi natively.

Higher resolution is not better for print – print output remains at 300dpi.

Supplying higher resolution files creates unnecessarily large file sizes for your printer to deal with. Resizing low resolution images up to 300dpi also produces poor quality results. Native 300dpi files avoid degradation and yield the best print clarity.

Maintaining 300dpi benchmarks for your imagery ensures your brochures, reports, posters or any printed materials will retain quality without visible pixels.

Crisp detail makes your designs look professional.

Scan and Save Images Properly

Scanned images are raster graphics. Set your scan resolution and color mode correctly from the start.

Scan black and white images in grayscale at 300dpi. Scan line art and text at 1200dpi in black and white. Save scans as high-quality TIFFs to avoid degradation.

Choosing the right scan settings prevents poor-quality prints. Save with lossless formats like TIFF for maximum quality.

Review Proofs Before Production

Before printing a full run, your printer will generate proofs for you to review.

These may be PDF soft proofs, print proofs, or both. Proofs allow you to closely inspect the file and check for any errors in content or layout. It is your last chance to catch typos, quality issues with images, or other mistakes before printing the final run.

Taking time to carefully review proofs helps avoid expensive reprints down the line.

Ideally, you should review the proofs with the client before approving them. This gives your client a chance to sign off and takes liability off your shoulders.

At minimum, get client approval in writing if they waive the right to review proofs. Do not approve final proofs yourself without client consent. Bringing your client into the review process ensures they have validated the job before full production.

Proofs offer assurance that you and your client are 100% happy with the job before the final print run.

Understand Paper Weights and Types

When discussing print paper, you’ll encounter the term “stock” – this simply refers to the paper itself. Understanding different paper stocks gives you design options.

The main categories are coated, uncoated and synthetic paper. Coated papers have a coating to create a smooth glossy or matte surface; uncoated maintains the natural paper texture. Synthetic paper is durable and water/tear resistant.

Within those categories, different paper weights are available, described in pounds. Text weight papers range from thin 40lb stock up to 100lb. Cover stocks run from 65lb to over 130lb for thick covers.

Paper also comes in different opacity levels and surface finishes like linen. Knowing the capabilities of different papers helps pick the right stock for each job.

A skilled designer combines paper selection, ink properties, and printing techniques to create stunning results on paper.

Experiment with Papers and Techniques

The best way to upgrade your print abilities is through hands-on experimentation.

With so many digital print options now accessible, you can start small. Order sample packs of coated and uncoated paper online or through a local print shop.

Print the same image on different surfaces and observe the results. See how textured papers take ink compared to glossy. Try using spot gloss/matte on a coated stock.

Explore the range of what’s possible on paper through your own tests. Discover how certain images and techniques pair with particular papers. As you gain experience with tangible print projects, you’ll learn how to maximize the capabilities of each paper stock.

Bringing ideas to life in your hands builds skill fast. Don’t be afraid to fail and try again. Pair knowledge with practical application for printing success.

FAQs – Best Printer for Graphic Design

What printer do graphic designers use?

Graphic designers use the popular Canon Pixma Pro-200 printer.

Which is better for graphic design inkjet or laser printer?

For graphic design, inkjet printers tend to offer superior color accuracy and gradient detail, making them preferable for high-quality visuals. However, laser printers provide faster speeds and cost efficiency for bulk printing, though they might not achieve the same depth of color.

What type of printer produces high-quality text and graphics?

A laser printer produces high-quality text and graphics. I recommend this HP Color LaserJet Pro model.

Which printer produces the highest quality image?

A pigment-based inkjet printer produces the highest quality image prints. I recommend the Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-300 or Epson SureColor P700.

I hope my guide has helped you choose your new printer for graphic design, and you will have a lot of fun with your creative projects!

Other articles in the Printers and Scanners series:

Iva

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »

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