How to Record your Artwork
It is essential artwork is scanned or photographed BEFORE being framed.
(Artwork covered with glass can NEVER be photographed or scanned satisfactorily.)
MAKE A DATABASE OR SET OF RECORDS
1 Databases can sort by field – (very useful for large numbers of records)
– Filemaker and Excell are database software. (Filemaker the best – not cheap $439)
2 – Or make tables in Word.
3 – Or combine details along with images in Publisher (Windows ) or Pages (Mac).
DETAILS TO RECORD (Fields).
You should record the following:
Date, title, SIZE, (Height first x Width in mm), media, paper/board, new owner, price sold.
(A DIGITAL IMAGE HAS NO SIZE! – YOU MUST RECORD THE SIZE OF THE ARTWORK OR YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO REPRODUCE THE ARTWORK AT THE ORIGINAL SIZE FROM A DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPH).
Print your database/records and backup regularly to an external hard drive.
RECORDING ARTWORK BY PHOTOGRAPHING OR SCANNING
Decide first what you are recording your artwork for …
EITHER – A record for websites and photobooks? (You should be able to take the photos yourself).
OR – To make high quality images so you can make full size reproductions later and sell copies. ( You will need a large camera – not cell phone – with Manual and RAW settings and a large pixel count) If you cannot reproduce high quality yourself, use a professional.
McK is the best company in Dunedin for reproducing artwork.
169 Princes St – Ph 477 7443. Wolfgang Gerber is the expert in colour reproduction at McK, with over 4 decades experience)
Scan if you can – (it gives better reproduction than a photograph).
A4 size art or smaller can be scanned yourself on a flat-bed scanner.
(Use a high quality scanner –scan at 300 dpi minimum –or 600dpi and save as TIFF file. A TIFF is lossless and safer than JPEG)
Buy your own flat bed scanner? (Only buy Epson or Canon brands). (www.digicamtips) (These also scan slides – negatives)
Eg. Epson V370 $349 or Canon CS9000 FMark II $449
Larger than A4?
McK can scan up to A3 – cost $20 + Gst
(Art larger than A3 is photographed by McK at $45+Gst each ($40 if more than 4 pieces)
Preferably a camera with RAW option and a manual control setting.
SLR–easiest to use as controls are on the outside of the body and they have larger sensors and larger size pixels than small cameras. –(Nikon has the easiest menu systems, but Canon is popular too).
The higher the pixels the larger the print. (18Mpx or higher are now common).
Mirrorless, bridging and high quality compact cameras may be ok but cell phones have a tiny sensor and are unsuitable for high quality print reproduction. Computer screens usually have about 100 dpi, so artwork from a small camera can look good on screen – but not so good when you need to make a print – as prints are done at 300 dpi.
A Tripod is ESSENTIAL. Set camera on the tripod EXACTLY at right angles to artwork.
Use the self-timer to reduce camera shake and do NOT use direct flash.
Camera resolution (Print size), set to HIGH.
Image Quality (Compression), set to RAW (best) or Fine JPEG.
ISO set your lowest number – usually 100. (The lowest ISO gives the best colour saturation.)
Exposure meter – set at full screen (Often called Matrix or Evaluative)
LIGHTING – You need uniform lighting. Natural available light – shady – overcast – works well. (Strong sunlight is not recommended)
– Aim to get the colour as close to original artwork as possible.
– White Balance adjusts colour setting of your image (temperature of the light source.)
Shoot RAW if possible then the white balance can be adjusted on the computer.
(BUT you need RAW converter software. – (Photoshop Elements).
If you shoot JPEG, then set WB to Auto OR Shady, Incandesent, Flourescent etc.
– Select Manual mode so you can alter both shutter and aperture.
– Set Aperture to about f8 (usually highest lens quality is mid aperture). Then rotate shutter until the work is underexposed and shoot a series of shots at 1/3 stop intervals until the image is overexposed. – (Check playback button). The correct exposure will then be in that range of shots and can be selected later on the computer.
– If your camera does not have Manual controls then use Auto and take a range of exposures by adjusting the ‘brightness settings’ for each shot./
DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER
Then backup – then eject card and format card in the camera.
Select the best exposure from the range of shots.
EDITING ON COMPUTER–
Adobe Photoshop Elements is the best software to get. Costs about $170 – version 15 is the latest. Once you buy it you will not need to upgrade for many years. (See www.digicamtips.com)
– Make a COPY of the image and ONLY edit the COPY.
– If the photo is not straight you may need to use Free Transform to straighten the edges.
– WHITE BALANCE – (If shooting RAW)
Open image in RAW (Photoshop Elements) and adjust the White Balance setting to match the colours with original artwork.
– LEVELS – (Windows and Mac have levels in their computer software –but Photoshop Elements is easier to use. ALWAYS check the levels to ensure the image contains pure white and pure black pixels. Then the other colours should look correct.
– COLOUR –Don’t fiddle too much with colour controls, saturation or hue –)
– SHARPEN – Maybe a conservative sharpen. Push the sharpen button once, possibly twice, but no more.
Add the TITLE of artwork to the filename –perhaps a running serial no. of your artwork?
FILE your images. A manual hierarchical filing system by topic is the best system. But you may file by year or a running serial number.
SHARING AND PRINTING
A -PHOTO SHARING SITES –Flickr, Facebook, Instagram are free systems – but they all have limitations. Try Smug Mug (US$45yr) if you want to display your work without having to make a website.
B – WEBSITES – There are various systems to make websites. If you have a Mac computer, try Rapidweaver, it is very easy to use. Make sure your website is ‘responsive’ – which means it converts easily to smart phones and other devices.
RESIZING FOR WEB – You can put original size images on many online photo-sites – BUT then anyone can copy your work full size. Best to resize suitable for web, at 100 resolution and 900 to 1200pixel wide. – then your artwork can never be printed full size.
In Photoshop Elements –make a copy, then Image > Image Size >adjust Res & Pixels.
C – PHOTOBOOKS – ( www.digicamtips.com) Need to print at 300dpi – Photobooks are made online or on a computer – go for high quality books (wedding quality) for displaying artwork.
D – HIGH QUALITY FULL-SIZE REPRODUCTION
McK 169 Princes St are the reproduction experts. They can use archival paper and archival inks. (Why make cheap laser prints that will fade)
Written by Brian Miller. See www.digicamtips.com for extra information on cameras, hardware, software and camera courses.