How to Photograph Your Own Artwork to Create Art Prints

posted by Misfit October 5, 2016

Hello there Misfit Fam and welcome to You Asked for It – where I answer your questions about watercolor, art, and whatever else you may want me to answer.     On today’s You Asked for It – I will be showing you my process of how I photograph my Artwork. Now, this is a great skill to have whether you are trying to sell your artwork professionally or just do it at home for a hobby.  Why?  Because Christmas is right around the corner and perhaps you would like to share some of your awesome paintings with family and friends as gifts but don’t want to give them your original art piece.  Today, I’ll be teaching you my process for taking digital images of my artwork in order to make artprints for later. 

Now before we begin, you are going to need a couple of supplies ?

Supplies List

  • Point and Shoot Camera
  • Tri-Pod
  • Well Lit Room – with true light bulbs
  • White Poster Board
  • Your Painting
  • Tape
  • Photo-editing Program – Photoshop
  • Computer
  • Printer


Some artist, take images of the art outside – but I found where I live it can be very exasperating trying to get the perfect image.  So do everything inside with fluorescent true light bulbs.   Make sure you are not using warm light, because this can give your paintings a yellow hue on the camera which is a pain to correct in Photoshop. That being said, ignorer to get the brightest crispest light I can achieve inside, I like to set up a light box. 

  1. Setting Up A Light Box and Securing Your Camera
    • First, place white poster board below and to the back of where your painting will be placed.  This will cause the light to bounce around – achieving a bright look. 
    • Next, secure your camera to a tripod above the painting thus preventing motion blur while taking your images. 

2) Getting Your Painting Ready For It’s Closeup

    • First, lay your painting horizontally below the camera.   If your image is vertical painting (similar to mine), I recommend placing it sideways like so and filling up the camera view finder.  This will guarantee you get the highest resolution possible of your painting.
    • Using your masking tape, tape all the sides down to your table – making sure to leave as little bumps as possible


3) Working In Manuel Mode

Learn to operate your camera in Manuel Mode.  There are tons of great videos and blogs post on this subject so I’m going to refrain from going into to much detail – but basically you want to learn how to use your exposure meter, your ISO, your white balance, your F-stop feature (also known as Aperture), and your shutter speed.  By becoming really familiar with these functions you not only will be able to use your camera to it’s fullest potential while photographing out and about – but also for taking the best pictures possible for your prints.

    • Setting Your White Balance
      • As stated earlier set your camera from Auto to Manuel Mode
      • Next, set your white balance from auto to the best setting for your shooting situation
      • Since I was shooting indoors with fluorescent lights – I chose the fluorescent light option.  This is probably the easiest way to set your white balance – but some cameras have an option where you can custom set your white balance.  On my camera – sometimes this works for me and sometimes it appears a bit to warm for my liking.  Learning your specific camera and it’s quirks will help you judge what is the best option for white balance. 
    • Reading Your Exposure Meter
      • On your camera display screen there should be an exposure meter that looks something like this.  Your goal is to keep the exposure meter as close to zero as possible (however, like I said earlier – learning your camera’s quirks will help you tremendously.  My camera tends to shoot a bit dark at zero exposure – thus I tend to increase it a bit closer to +1 exposure – but definitely play around with your camera settings and figure our what your preference is with your camera. 
    • Setting Your ISO
      • So now your probably wondering – how so I do I move the meter on my exposure.  Well first I like to set my ISO somewhere around 200 to 400 – the higher your ISO the more grainy your picture might look. I’ve found the 200 to 400 range is a sweet spot for me. As you place around with your ISO – you will notice your exposure meter moving. 
    • Setting Your Shutter Speed
      • Once your ISO is set, you can adjust your shutter speed (the higher your shutter speed the faster the camera will freeze (or make it less blurry) in your picture.   However, the higher your shutter speed the darker your image will become – this is why we set up the tripod which will remove a lot of the movement from our painting.
    • Setting Your F-Stop
      • Finally try and move your F-stop function as high as you can go without loosing your exposure.   The higher your F-stop the crisper and sharper your images.
    • Play Around with Manual Mode Until Desired Effect is Reached
      • Think of these functions as you playing a game with your camera – trying to hit the perfect goal of a sharp, clean, bright, color correct image.  You are not going to get it right the first time – so allow yourself time and patience until you get the hang of it. 
      • I like to take several photos – adjusting the manual functions between each image before I’m done.  This gives me a wider range of selection to play around with on the computer later.


5) Editing Your Photo in Photoshop

    • If everything went smoothly with your photo process – you shouldn’t have to edit much in Photoshop or some other photo editing software.   
    • I tend to only adjust the levels of my photo just slightly and sometimes I adjust the hue (but that’s me being a bit over particular).    
    • After that you are done! Just save your photo and either take  the digital image it to a printshop or print it at home.  Just be aware, sometimes the monitors colors may appear different from how it’s printed.  So you may need to do  a bit more tweaking but overall if you have a good crisp photo of your painting this shouldn’t be a problem. 

And that is how I photograph my artwork ignorer to make art prints.  ?

Carrie Luc - Watercolor Misfit



Laura franch May 9, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Just a comment about printing… you may either take the picture in CMYK (cyan magenta yellow) instead of RGB (red green and blue), or change the type image in photoshop once you made it.

The reason is that CMYK are the primary colors that prints mix to print the image on paper.
RGB are the ones that monitos and screens use to play them on pixels.

This change should be enough to increase the faithfulness of your prints!

nice blog!

Misfit May 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Wow AWESOME TIP! Thanks so much for leaving a comment! 😀 I needed this!


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