How to Photograph and Edit Artwork to Upload Online: A Guide on Color-Correcting Art
Here are some tips & tricks on how to photograph and edit your artwork to upload online, whether it be for your online shop or social media account. Presentation is key, and sometimes just plain photos don’t do the painting any justice. With the right equipment and techniques, editing will help bring out the correct colors so that you’ll be able to show everybody your art just as close as it can be to a real life experience
And without further ado, I hope you enjoy and learn something!
1. Setting It Up: Setting Up Your Artwork
This is everything that you can do before you take that picture to ensure the photo turns out the best quality it can be! This is one of the most overlooked steps, but it’s what makes the biggest difference in the end.
- Lighting is SUPER important when it comes to taking a quality photo of any kind. Make sure to take it in a well-lit room during daytime so you get lots of natural light.
- Depending on what you are trying to sell (And your own aesthetic preferences), you can either try to minimize shadows by keeping the light even all around OR set up by a window so that shadows fall around your item. I find that some people pull it off really well, so I’ll leave that option open in case you want to deliberate on that 🙂
- **Tip: I like to supplement natural light with my own lights. Use lightbulbs that mimic daylight by producing white light instead of yellowish/orange light.
- Here are some inexpensive ones I found on Amazon or you can go to your local store and look on the box for color temperatures at around the 5,000k
- Utilize a clean, minimal background that doesn’t draw the viewer’s eye away from the item you are trying to showcase. Having too much going on in your picture may take away from putting the full spotlight on your item.
- If your studio is a mess (like mine), you can always crop out the background and create a mock-up scene with your art hanging on a more clean, beautiful space. This will also help the customer be able to envision the art in their own home. I’ll show you how to do that soon!
2. Taking the Picture: How to Photograph Art
- Make sure to invest in a relatively high quality camera (Even more so if you are planning to create prints of your art with those photos). Just for getting a photo to put up in your shop or website however, you’ll be fine using a digital camera or an affordable DSLR camera.
- I use the Nikon D3300 ( Available here on Amazon for $396 ), and it’s done the job really well for me. Plus it’s a great alternative for those of you who don’t want to spend too much on a great quality DSLR camera.
- When taking your photo, make sure to:
- Take your photo from a straight-on angle. Try to make it as square as possible.
- Use a tripod if you don’t have stable arms or a surface to take the shot from.
- Do not zoom into your artwork to get it to fit to frame. Instead, move the camera closer. This helps keep the quality of the photo as high as possible.
- Be careful of too much glares or shadows falling onto your artwork if you are planning on cropping it.
- Also consider taking several close-up shots so potential buyers can see details and textures in your art.
- If possible, you can also scan your artwork if it is on paper. My advice for when doing this is to scan it at at least 300dpi to capture your artwork at its best quality. I generally like to scan my works on paper at 400dpi (sometimes even 600dpi if the painting is really small).
- Usually, scanning will capture more details than taking a photo of your painting, but alas, large flatbed scanners are extremely expensive and are oftentimes not available to the majority of us. That is why I recommend taking a photo with your camera for larger works that can’t be scanned.
- Import/Transfer your photos onto a computer to be edited.
3. Editing Your Art Photos
For this part of this blog post, I’ll be using Photoshop CS6 to do most of my editing. If you do not have Photoshop, you can use other photo editing softwares you have available to you.
Get Photoshop as part of a Creative Cloud single-app plan for just US $19.99/mo.
Here are some free photo editing softwares to consider if you do not have Photoshop:
If you are editing your photos on your phone to upload onto Social Media, you can find equivalent photo editing apps to do these steps as well. I love using the app Snapseed to edit photos on my phone: It can do all these functions plus more and you can download it for FREE in your app store – Available on both Android and iOS software.
**Tip: If you are editing your photos to be printed in the future, I highly recommend you color calibrate your monitor. I’ll be writing a blog post soon on how to do this, so stay tuned for that!
Here’s a Before photo of one of my paintings before I have done any editing to it.
Notice how even though I took the photo in daylight and with a DSLR camera, the colors of this painting still look dull and dark. It takes extra editing and touch-ups to get it to match how the painting truly looks in real life so that I can bring my artwork to others in its best form and quality possible.
Below are the steps I use to really transform my art digitally into what it truly looks like in-person.
How To Crop Your Photo
1. Go to your sidebar where your tools are located.
2. Find the crop tool.
3. Right click the crop tool and select the Perspective Crop Tool
Using the Perspective Crop Tool
4. Click and drag to fit your artwork to fit the frame. You may notice that the corners do not match when you do this. Drag each corner to match where the corners of your painting is. Once all the corners match, hit Enter or the check mark in the upper right corner.
** If you do not have the perspective cropping tool, you can still utilize the normal crop tool to crop your artwork. Try rotating your artwork as best as you can and getting it as square as possible. Then crop to ensure that the background of the photo does not show.
** To also make sure all your proportions are good, go to Image > Image Size
Then adjust the document size to the actual piece’s size (For example, if your actual piece is 8×10 inches, change the size of the image to 8 by 10 inches. Also make sure that the image size stays around 300dpi.)
Then hit Enter or OK. Your image should now be in proportion to your original artwork as close as it can be.
How to Adjust the Brightness, Curves, etc
1. Go to > Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast
2. Adjust the Brightness using the slider appropriately. I generally up the brightness to around 40-60 depending on the lighting conditions. Depending on your camera and environment, your adjustments will be different as well.
3. Select OK
1. Go to > Image > Adjustments > Curves
2. Move the sliders depending on where your curves start and end. You’ll be able to see how it affects the photo of your art, but in summary it makes the whites brighter and the blacks darker. Adjust these sliders so that the colors of the artwork on your screen matches the colors on the actual piece.
** There are other adjustments you can make according to what you may need. You can adjust Contrast, Temperature, Levels, Saturation, Vibrance, or Exposure. Experiment and see what works best with your specific camera and surroundings. Generally, if my lighting and equipment is ideal, simply adjusting the Brightness and Curves is enough for me. Do what works best for your art.
Wow, pretty big difference!
How To Save Your Art Photo
I save my photo using multiple ways. You can do just one of these methods or all of them depending on what you think you’ll be needing those images for in future uses.
- In Photoshop, I go to File > Save As and Save the final image as both a TIFF and as a JPEG.
- Saving your image as a TIFF file keeps your edited image in its highest-quality, original form (Uncompressed). This will prove really handy when you are trying to create prints of your artwork – Because unfortunately, saving as a JPEG compresses the image every time you hit save. Doing this over time really degrades the quality of your image. Saving as a TIFF acts as a backup so you don’t lose that original image.
- JPEG is the most popular way to save and upload images on the web. It is generally the most useful way to quickly and efficiently upload a general picture of your artwork.
- Another way to save an image to upload onto the Web: In Photoshop, go to File > Save for Web – And a window like the one shown below should pop up.
1. Make sure in the upper right corner of that window, you are saving your file as a JPEG.
2. In the lower right corner of the window, there is a place to adjust the image size. I generally try to keep the image in the lower 1000’s px to keep the image size (located in the lower left corner) small.
3. Select Save
**Tip: Doing this is really helpful if you have an online shop or are posting your photos on your website. Compressing your photos as small as it can be without hindering its quality helps your web page run smoother with less loading time for your website visitors.
Bonus: How To Create a Mock Up Scene for Your Art
Here are different sources where I get my own Mock Up Scenes for my own Artwork:
- Mockup World: They have a category dedicated to FREE mock ups. I like to filter through and look for wall/poster/framed mock ups that are available for download.
- Free stock photo websites such as Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay are great places to find beautiful interiors and wall space images that you can Photoshop your artwork into. Search for keywords like wall, room, interior, etc.
- For more branded or high quality mock up photos, I like to buy them from CreativeMarket. I’ve seen ones go for as low as $4 to affordable bundles at $20-$40. Here are a couple sellers I recommend.
Once you’ve chosen the mock up photo you want to use, go to File > Place and add the image of your artwork into the mockup scene. Adjust layers as necessary.
Here’s the painting in its new setting!
4. Upload and Share!
And now that you have the knowledge, share your artwork in it’s best possible state to the world! Your beautiful artwork deserves to be seen and experienced by others!
I hope you found this blog post helpful and if you have any questions or other topics you want me to cover, comment down below. Would love to hear from you! Good luck in all your creative endeavors and until next time!