Taking Better Artwork Photos

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blogs are better with pictures. There, I said it. Your writing is important, but let’s be honest and face the fact that most viewers look at the pictures more than they read the text. blog dog photographer

Blog dog wants to know: are your photos adding to the reader’s experience? Are they well-lit, brightly colored, and include details? If not, read on!

I’m going to share my tricks for better photos, without complicated photo editing programs. I personally use Picasa to edit most of my photos. It’s free, and very easy to use. You can also use an online photo editor such as Picnik or Photobucket. Whatever you choose to use, these tips will help you show off your artwork at its best.

First, let’s set up your “studio.”


In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to take your photos using natural light. Choose a spot that gets natural indirect light. Indirect is important, you don’t want a sunny spot. Today it’s overcast outside, so I set up very close to my sliding glass door. I often use my kitchen counter near a large window, today it’s a little too dark in that spot so I am using the floor. If the sun were shining brightly today, I would need to move my set-up a bit farther back, so the light does not shine directly onto my paper. You should have soft shadows and even lighting when the light is indirect.


I use a large piece of posterboard as a seamless background. I taped the top of the posterboard to a chair rung. Sometimes I can just prop it up. You can also choose a different color background, I sometimes use black.

Turn off your flash and take a few shots from slightly different angles.



picasa card1-1

I like the last one best.

Next step, sprucing it up with photo editing. First, use your crop tool to remove the unnecessary background. You want your artwork to stand out, so crop in nice and close.

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If you’re using Picasa, there’s a cool feature – the “I’m feeling Lucky” button. It will auto-adjust several aspects of your photo. I usually start with that. Sometimes it works great, other times not so much. With this photo, it works pretty well (below). The color is more vibrant and the photo is lighter, with just a single click.

picasa card3-1 Don’t be afraid to add more light to your photo. Most photos look better when they are almost overexposed. I used the slider bar options to increase the Highlights. If it starts to look too flat and washed out, use the Shadows feature to deepen the shadows.

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See those little specks of stray glitter near the third flower from the right, in the white areas? Use the retouch tool to remove them (below). Just a few clicks and you can clean up little boo-boos and smudges. Don’t expect major photo retouching, but it’s a great option to clean up stray embossing powder and dirt specks.

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Lastly, use the Text tool to add your name and blog address (below). Don’t be afraid to watermark your art. It’s a good idea to protect your artwork from appearing on other’s blogs without credit, and it’s also helpful for readers who like to save photos and forget who the artist is. I typed my name and blog address in black, then used the transparency slider tool to make it blend into the background a bit so it’s not too bold.

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So, that’s it. About 3 minutes of photo editing will really make your photos pop! Compare the pictures side-by-side.

picasa card2-1picasa card6

You like?


Ann said...

I am so glad that you posted this. this is an area where I struggle. I always seem to take my photos at night so the lighting is never great. I have started using picnik to help. I will definately be trying these ideas.

Gina Brandstetter said...

Great Tips! I too take my photos at night. I think I will try out Picnik - maybe that will improve my photos!

Marie said...

So glad you included this :) I LOVE when people include their names and blogs on their photos so I can remember where I saw them. Another "thought" is to add the date so if someone wants to go back to the particular photo they can just check the archive.
Marie with a :) at Isom Cre8tions

Mary Gunn FUNN said...

Great tips! I was using some, but love the text tool deal and the touch up. I had only used "feeling lucky" a couple of times, but I'll try it some more.
You are the best. Thanks.

Romaine said...

Were you reading my blog?;0) one of my goals is better pictures as we had an over sat summer and now the days are getting short. My pictures have been so dull and I honestly did not want to go with a light box. I do use natural light often with white in the background, but as I said, the dang clouds make them less vibrant. Will be trying out picnik!

Tamytha said...

Another great informative post. Like others I take my photos at night (after work). My hubby just purchased the stuff I need to make my own light box. I have photo editing software on my computer, but haven't been able to figure out much, except cropping and writing text on my photo. I'm going to have to try Picasa next time. It sounds like it will be easier and more effective. Thanks again!

Natalie Racine said...

Thank you so much Tresa. I am just starting off a blog and your tips are going to help me so much.



Shirley said...

Thank you so much for this great tutorial. And thanks for sharing the Picasa instructions. Will have to share with my blogging team members.

Melissa Shea said...

That was great, thanks! I'm working on better photos and those tips were perfect! I'm soooo not into photography/photo editing (like the photos looking professional, I take photos all.the.time, they just look like I need to spend time getting cozy w/ some editing software) so I try to take decent photos, it's a work in progress. Thanks for the tips!

Dot said...

Great tips, Tresa. I am always looking for ideas on how to make my photos look better on my blog. Next is to learn how to the watermark with my photo editor, or just switch to Picasa!

Creatique Candy said...

Thank you so much for this Tresa! I'm always fussing about trying to get good photos to post of artwork that I do so this is extremely helpful for me. Plus it helps me realize that there are simpler ways of editing since I use my PSE9 to do it in all of my pics. Thanks again for this tutorial information.

Lalia said...

Love it! I especially appreciate the comment about watermarking. I appreciate the watermark now so that I can go back to blogs and see how it's done. It's like putting a permanent hyperlink on your picture, not matter where it goes. And you'll always be credited. Right now I'm looking for the owner of a certain calendar project. If I only had a watermark. LOL.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the tip, I was having trouble with the lighting and editing on my photos, Im going to try your ideas.

Love your blog!

Denise Wilcox said...

Thanks for the great step by step tips. It really help to see the photos before and after. Love it!

Stampin n da Hood said...

I guess I need to revisit PB after a few years! I had no clue we could now due edits at all in there! Thanks T !

Stampin n da Hood said...

how about a spell check here…that's DO edits! ha!

Kim said...

I like! You must have been reading my mind. Thanks so much.

Ali MacDonald :) said...

Thank You SO MUCH, Tresa! This was very helpful! Will be sharing with friends at the Sisterhood of Scrap Forum and my Sketch Blog's Design Team @ Sketches: Creatively Yours! What useful information. Plus I just LOVED your card. The colours are so rich and autumnal and the design is GREAT. :o)

emarci said...

Thank you so much for the great tut! I have been holding off blogging because I couldn't get great pictures. Now I know what to do!

Crafting Rebellion said...

This was a very helpful article. Thanks so much!

Mrs. Pierce said...

WOW! I can't wait to try this! Did you major in ART or EDUCATION or TECHNOLOGY or PHOTOGRAPHY or...in college? You are one talented Chick!! Looking forward to reading and watching and reading and watching more!!
Elaine, CTMH consultant

Mrs. Pierce said...

Super! I can't wait to try this! You are one incredible Chick! AND, you teach with such a snarky sense of humor - a woman of my own fabric! Keep it going, Lady!
Elaine, CTMH consultant

Lilir said...

Thanks so much! Works wonderfully!

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