WCG Logo by Shelia Waters

How to Photograph & Scan Your Artwork for Submissions

It is important to get the best quality images of your artwork, as it is from these, not from the originals, that your work will be selected, and then be published in journals and magazines and featured digitally on websites.

Photographing your Artwork:

The best option, ideally, is to get your artwork professionally photographed. He would know about lighting, how to bring out the details of your work (especially if there is gold leaf or embossing elements, or any textured backgrounds).

If this is not feasible, and you feel you can provide your own images and scans, then please refer to the following guidance:

  1. Take your work out of the frame first! Though the frame may add to the aesthetic of the work, there is usually glass which reflects light, creating glare which has to be cropped out should the work be featured in publications or on websites
  2. Place your work flat on the floor, or attach it to a flat wall. Do not prop it up or lean it against a surface. The lower part will be wider than the upper part, creating distortion and may have to be edited (this may affect a portion of your overall design).
  3. Line the edge of the camera’s (phone camera or digital SLR) screen or viewfinder flush with a straight edge in your piece. Images which are taken off-angle can be edited in software packages, but this is a time-consuming and careful process. Best to get as straightforward a shot to begin with.
  4. Focus on your work as that is what most people want to see. Get as close to your work as you can, including the entire artwork area, but not any mounts or background items. Use manual focus if possible. Refrain from using artistic effects or filters. Do not artistically blur or vignette the foreground or borders of your work.
  5. Take the photographs in the best available light (natural daylight, if possible). Take the photographs outside on a sunny day or inside a room that receives good, filtered daylight that doesn’t result in glare or shadows.
  6. Be sure to capture the entire area of your artwork within the image. If your piece is three-dimensional, mind what is in the background – keep it color-neutral and uncluttered. You want a background that will enhance and compliment your work, not detract from it.
  7. Always check your digital images along the way. If the paper you have been using is white, then your image should not show it as grey (this indicates your color balance and lighting is off). Don’t be hesitant about seeking better lighting and retaking a shot if you’re not getting good results.

Scanning your Artwork:

Equipment needed:
  • You’ll need a flatbed scanner connected to your computer with its driver downloaded and installed. There are several good and affordable brands such as Epson, Canon, and Hewlett Packard.
  • Photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or GIMP. This is extremely helpful for post-processing; yet optional, as the inherent editing features of many scanners are often sufficient enough to adjust the resolution, exposure/brightness, orientation, and overall ‘capture’ quality of images before the final scanning and saving into the desired format.

Before scanning, you should clean the scanner glass with either a slightly damp microfiber (lint-free) cloth or with an ammonia-free glass cleaner and microfiber cloth. Dry thoroughly before placing artwork upon it.

When placing artwork, place it facedown onto the scanner glass, with at least one edge aligned with the scanner’s glass edge. If necessary, place a weight onto the back in order to prevent the artwork from sliding around or buckling or warping (this would create uneven exposure with unsightly shadows or “blown-out” white areas).

All image files must be very high quality (with a resolution of at least 300dpi).

Image files should be saved as either TIFF or JPG (best quality).

Sending Digital Graphics Files:

When sending files, do not use lots of separate emails, as the files will be too large and can create a glut within the recipient’s inbox. Use WeTransfer or DropBox instead.

Captions are usually not needed – the editor will add those last, requesting that information, depending on which images are selected for publication and feature. Labeling the files specifically and descriptively is paramount, however; be sure to follow the format that is being requested.