What type of printer is best for artists?

  • SVS OG

    I'm researching small printers for our rv that I can use to print artwork and rough things to be transferred for watercolor, etc.

    It would be nice to have one that would print on watercolor paper directly.

    Scanner and printer combo would be fine but we do have a small scanner already.

    laser, inkjet? Does it matter?


  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen I was speaking to the print technician at the Print Studio I go to. He loves the Epson printers, says they're reliable on quality, great pigment inks (digital aka giclee) and last for ages. I would love an Epson P5000 Designer edition. But it's a bit pricey. Going to save up for one. That prints pretty big. An Epson P600 was recommended too. They're expensive, but it's an investment and good for making money back on.

  • Inkjet is probably more affordable and most inkjet printers will print on watercolour paper. You just have to be careful with the intensity and colour of ink you choose, as it will more than likely run when watercolour is applied. If you're going to paint over it, try a very light blue or red perhaps?

    Brands I've heard to be good are Canon and Epson. They come in different sizes though, so it would be worth going to a retailer to see whether they're actually suitable or not.

    Here's some that are recommended from a Google search.

    I used a HP Officejet for a good decade or so and it was a bit of a workhorse for me (re: I used it a lot), the most important feature was the automatic document feeder when I was doing traditional animation. I wouldn't recommend it for both the space it takes up and the ink cartridges are costly. Also experienced more than a few technical issues over the years too, but somehow I found workarounds for those. It finally kicked the bucket not too long ago, RIP 😞

    Was recently given a Canon Pixma MG3560 inkjet printer, it's an older model but can't complain because it was free. These seem to be more reasonably priced, as well as quality. Ink also seems much more reasonable than HP! The bonus is that one can also print wirelessly without issue, from computer or tablet, which is pretty rad.

  • SVS OG

    Thanks! I appreciate your responding. I'll have to look at some (and convince my husband that we need a new one. 🙂 Ours is about to bite the dust I think.

  • Hi Marsha, the only printers I have found acceptable for watercolor painting over a drawing are epsons that use pigmented inks. The HP & Canon inkjets I own smear even when the drawing is printed at the lightest transparency. The Epson I own is an old Epson Stylus 2200 and I set the transparency of the drawing in my publishing program (Adobe Indesign, but whatever photo editing software you use) and then I print 2 inch thumbnails several to a page to test the transparency I like best to paint over before printing it full size.

    My Epson handles 140# and 300# weight watercolor papers. It has been several years since I bought a new printer, but my experience is that Canon are the most reliable and ink-efficient of the inkjets. However, the Canon inkjets could not handle the 90# pre-scored textured paper I use for greeting cards, much less watercolor paper. I have heard that some Canon pigment ink printers handle watercolor papers.

    My Epson is an ink hog for color prints, but fine printing drawings in greyscale.
    It is also temperamental—inkjets get clogged unless you print something every day, for example, sometimes it prints 80% of the page and stops, etc. I swore I would never own an Epson printer after the paper jams we experienced at work with an Epson inkjet, but at the time I bought my Epson 2200, it was the best option for handling watercolor paper and making archival prints (which was one of my requirements to fulfill orders from a mail order company).

    Things may have changed by now, but back then, multi-function printers were not a good option for high quality printing.

    I am interested to read about experiences with printers that are more current than mine!

  • Hey Marsha!

    Here is the printer I have:


    I live in a 18 ft camper trailer and this thing fits great! Its like a little tank. Its super compact and it can not only print good quality, but it can fax, scan and copy!
    It can print on water color paper, but I have not got around to testing the printed ink if it would smudge or not when watercolor got in contact with it.

    Bonus: The paper output tray stays up and out of the way until it prints something, then it pops out! Sometimes it startles me lol

    Warning: Although, I've not had much trouble with it, This printer is known to be difficult to set up.

  • I have two Canon Pixmas - one large format that can print up to 18" wide, and one regular all-in-one model. The large format definitely handles specialty paper better than the all-in-one, but I haven't tried it with watercolor paper. It's definitely an ink hog, and temperamental. Honestly, my experience with the large format Canon has been very similar to @BichonBistro 's has with her Epson. The nozzles get clogged, or you get a beautiful print EXCEPT for the one little white line across the bottom. There's always something, it seems like. But when you get a good print it looks really good.

    The all-in-one Pixma (it's an MX922) does a good job, but I haven't pushed it to its full potential. I use the cheapest inks possible for it. I think it would do an excellent job if I used Canon ink, but I question whether it would produce archival quality prints. I also haven't tried specialty papers with it, other than photo paper.

  • SVS OG

    @Squirrel-Size oh, that looks like it might work. If you try watercolor over the ink in the near future, let me know if it smears 😁

  • I would recommend Envy 5055 here. HP ENVY 5055 is a near-perfect wireless All-In-One printer with great performance and strong feature set for the home user. It also boasts terrific connectivity with dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity as well as support for third-party apps including Apple AirPrint , Mopria and HP's ePrint. I am personally using it with no complains yet.

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