Tricks for Creating Beautiful Artwork Photography

We all want those perfectly bright, white photos to share on social media. Photographing artwork is surprisingly tricky, because the more you edit a photo, the more your artwork gets edited. If you brighten up a photo, you brighten up your artwork. It doesn’t take much for beautiful artwork to become washed out by a filter or effect.

Because of this conundrum, my first tip is to photograph blank artwork - from frames, to sketchbook pages and art prints. I don’t always do this, but it definitely produces the best results. If you use this method, you can make the setting as bright as you want, while still maintaining the integrity of your artwork. You have the added bonus of being able to reuse your shots for multiple illustrations. If you do reuse your photos, consider rotating the angle and zoom of the shot so it doesn’t look the same from one illustration to the next. *For those of you who work 9-5, I recommend doing mini photo shoots during the day on the weekends, so you can have a stockpile of photos to use during the week.

Once you’ve photographed your blank artwork, open your photo in Photoshop. Place in your artwork. Then, double click your artwork layer and select Multiply in the Blend Mode dropdown. Lastly, resize your artwork to fit your paper. *For instructions on how to prepare your illustrations for this step, you can check out my Guide to Editing Artwork that Sells.

Here is an example of how I place my artwork into blank photos:

Edited Arwork

Edited Arwork

Blank Sketchbook Photo

Blank Sketchbook Photo

w/ Artwork Applied in Photoshop

w/ Artwork Applied in Photoshop


Edited Artwork

Edited Artwork

Blank Frame Photo

Blank Frame Photo

w/ Artwork Applied in Photoshop

w/ Artwork Applied in Photoshop

You may have guessed my next tip by now, and it’s to edit your images in Photoshop. I know it’s not as convenient as using an app, but the result that Photoshop produces is much better. When I edit a photo, I make sure the quality of it is good enough to display on my website, removing all imperfections. It may take more time up front, but saves time in the long run when you need images to grow your brand.

When I edit my images in Photoshop, I always create a square white box on top of my artwork. I try to get the white shades in the image as close to the color of the white box as possible, without washing out the props.

Here is an example of how I do this:

Champagne_Swatch.jpg

My next tip is to consider the color of your desk. As an artist, your desk will be a huge part of your brand photography. I like crisp, white backgrounds, so I couldn’t survive without my white desk. It allows me to take great shots on the fly. A wooden or colored desk could work really well with your brand too. All I ask is that you think put some thought into your desk. The only desks that don’t work well for photography are ones that are super shiny or clear glass.

On Lane Ave_Studio Tour_Desk_Old.JPG

The last and most obvious tip I suggest is to take your photos by a window. You want to take your picture at the time of day when the sun is brightest, but you don’t have little rays of light (unless that’s the look you are going for). One side of your home might have better lighting than another side of your home. Personally, I like the east facing windows of my house between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm.

For convenience, my illustration desk is set up in front of an east window, so I can get great photos while I work.

This might sound like a lot of things to consider, but it gets easy when you get in a rhythm. Any time I create an illustration, I scan it in and edit it. Then, I take some stylized photos on my iPhone and send them to my desktop. Lastly, I edit the photos - whether it’s shop listing images or social media photos.

I hope this was helpful! I’m considering making a longer guide on artwork photography, because I could talk forever about this subject. If this guide is something you’d be interested in, let me know in the comments below!

Nicole CicakComment