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Tips for photographing/scanning artwork?

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I’m trying to get a good picture of some artwork I’ve illustrated for my book dummy (colored pencil on black paper) but I’m not sure how to best photograph it. Any particular kind of camera/lighting/setting you can recommend? I tried getting a similar illustration scanned at a Staples once and it didn’t go well so I’m hesitant to try scanning again, unless there’s a better way of doing it somewhere or with a certain device that I’m not aware of.
#1 - July 07, 2019, 06:34 PM

A high quality color scan is probably the best option.  Then, once you've got it in a digital form, you can adjust the colors however you need to.  Not sure how high quality a scanner at Staples is.  Scan it at at least 300dpi, but 600dpi or higher would be better. 

You can also photograph it, but that can be tricky.  You'll need to set up your lighting so there's no shadow and it's fairly even across the page.  And get your camera (a good camera, not a cell phone or little point-and-shoot one) centered and aimed precisely at the page, and focused right.  If you don't line it up exactly right, you'll have to distort it a little in a graphics program later to get it squared off, which you can do, but you don't want to have to do that very much.  They used to have these things called copy stands that we'd use back in my high school art classes to professionally photograph a piece of art.  Not sure if they still have those, but that's exactly what you need for this.  You should be able to get similar results hanging your picture on a wall and putting your camera on a tripod, but it'll be trickier to set up. 

Good luck! 
#2 - July 09, 2019, 01:14 PM
Karen B. Jones

I tried taking pictures of them with a family member's phone using as much natural lighting - one up on the wall in a room with plenty of windows, one outside - and they came out surprisingly good. All I had to do was to crop it, up the dpi and make some minor photoshop adjustments for the picture took indoors. The phone had a great natural lighting setting that helped capture a lot of detail.

I'd like to share how they came out, but the size is too big. I did include one of them in my portfolio, so here's a link (it's the colored pencil one of the elephant stepping out on to the beach):
#3 - July 10, 2019, 10:03 AM

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I agree that a flatbed scanner would be faster and easier, but I have to hand it to you, the elephant on the beach turned out really nice. Whatever you did seems to have worked. :)
#4 - July 10, 2019, 12:31 PM

Thank you!
#5 - July 10, 2019, 09:01 PM

By "up the dpi" do you mean you resized it larger than the original photo?  You can get away with that for low-res images for the web, but it's a really bad idea to do for samples you're planning to print.  And even for the web, I'd be careful.  The reason is that you can't up the resolution and maintain quality.  If try, you lose clarity.  The photo gets blurrier or more pixelated (depending on what enlargement method you use).  You will lose your sharp lines and it won't print clearly anymore.  You can pretty much always reduce an image, but enlarging is a bad idea, particularly for samples meant to show your artwork at its best. 
#6 - July 11, 2019, 02:17 PM
Karen B. Jones


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