Today I want to share some useful tips and tricks that may help you take good photos of your traditional art.
If you don't own a scanner or you work with large paper, canvas... and you can't your traditional works, don't worry! You don't even need a fancy camera to take great pics!
I finished my piece! How can I take a decent photo?
It's easy! You only need good sunlight or good artificial light that doesn't change the hues of the colours.
HINT: good artificial light doesn't make the white paper look yellow/ocher or greyish yellow.
If you prefer natural sunlight, make sure you're taking the photo next to a window (it should be clean or open
) and do it preferably from 10:00 to 15:00 hours, later the light turns darker or warmer, depending on the season or timezone.
Make sure you're not casting any shadow
because removing cast shadows is very tricky and a waste of time. You better take a good photo avoiding to cast weird shadows with your camera or phone.
Yes! I said phone!
Nowadays phones have pretty good cameras. Use them to take pics of your art.
I didn't cast any shadow and the light was perfect but the colours still look different from what the physical drawing is. What can I do to fix it?
It's ok, we all need to adjust the photos after taking them. Even scanned artworks are adjusted.
You can adjust colour balance and lighting, as well as saturation, temperature and many other things to make it look good or even better than the paper file.
I am proposing you a free online website that's awesome and easy to use, you don't need a fancy program to do this:www.phixr.com/photo/userindex
Phixr is a fantastic site. You can even save the edited file as PNG to avoid losing quality and preserve the brightness and vibrancy of colours.
There are also some apps where you can edit and adjust pictures but Phixr is superior since you can save as PNG and you don't depend on your phone to edit the photos. Moreover, it is a site so it doesn't take any space from your phone memory.
I am lost in edition. Where to start?
I was lost the first time, too!
First of all, you need to raise the exposure if the paper is not white enough. Do it little by little, don't go crazy about it. You can also make highlights less sublte or more harsh, and brighten the whites. Usually, you'll need to raise the exposure, darken the blacks, raise vibrancy and maybe play around with temperature.What does "temperature" mean?
I'm not an expert but from what I've learned so far temperature determines if the light source is warm or cool. If the appearence of the drawing is overall cool or bluish, perhaps you need to warm the temperature up. When the drawing looks too warm or yellowish, move the temperature bar towards the blue, aka cool it down.
Sometimes, some colours will appear less saturated. You can adjust the colours on "channels", one by one and very easily.PRO TIP!
pointed out in the comments, for black and white pieces a monochrome filter is the best way to get rid of yellowness.
It may seem messy but once you get used to it, it becomes a quick process.
The photo already looks good to me. Is it really necessary to do all the post work?
Trust me, you can make it shine with a quick adjust. You're not wasting your time: what may look good for you can be dull and grey to others.
Let's have a look at this photo before being colour corrected and adjusted:
It may look good but it's not. Compare it to the final colour corrected piece:
See? Much brighter and appealing. It's easier on the eyes and all the whites look white!
I really hope you found this article helpful and I will appreciate any tip you can give me or comments discussing new methods to take good photos of artworks. Thanks for reading!