So you want to submit some of your art for the Spring Zine, but you’re not sure how to document it so that it looks it’s best quality. Here is some advice!
First, if it’s smaller than 11x17, scan it! The scanners at SPU are very good quality and scan colors very accurately. When scanning, make sure to select a higher resolution and color scan (not black and white). You may also want to change the file kind from PDF to JPEG.
If it’s a larger piece, or a sculpture, photographing it will be your best option. However, this process can be a little flukey—so be patient and be as precise as possible.
1. Photograph outside on a cloudy day, to avoid strong shadows and sunlight on a sunny day, or photograph inside in a very well lit room. Photographing your work outside will create more natural lighting and probably be more true to the real colors. If you photograph your work inside, DO NOT USE FLASH. This will create hot spots on the piece, especially if graphite or any glazing is used. You will want to set up lights around it so that it creates an even lighting across the surface of your piece.
2. When holding your camera to take the picture, try to hold it at the same angle as the piece. In other words, keep the lens parallel to the art. This means that when you crop the image of your work, you won’t have to crop off too much of a corner that got distorted in the image.
3. Tripods are your friends. This will help stabilize the camera and prevent the image from being blurry—especially if you are shooting in an area that is lower light.
4. You will have to edit the picture you take. It is most important that you crop the image so that none of the space around the piece is showing, but you may also find it helpful to do color or exposure correction. If you have Photoshop, that is your best option. The computer lab in the art center has Photoshop, which you can use if you have taken Intro to Computer Art. If not, iPhoto is your next best option. I try to avoid using this because it lowers the quality of the image, but it will get the job done.
Other suggestions: Art Room 4 has a large white wall that is perfect to hang your work on to photograph. This will make lighting easier as well as being on a nice, flat surface. There are also lots of easels in the room that you can use to hold paintings that you can’t tack into the wall.
Photographing your artwork will always be a challenge—it is something I still struggle with—and it will never be perfect. That being said, if you want some help, contact us! I would be more than happy to meet up with you to help photograph your piece or walk you through the very basics of Photoshop. Knowing how to do this is a good skill to have and makes your artwork appear all that more professional.
—Erin Miller, Lingua Illustrator