A few times each week, I receive an email, message or a comment from someone who would like to know what types of things that I use to get my artwork online.
After years of answering these emails on a one-by-one basis, I thought it might be helpful to many more artists, if I just shared the software, hardware and resources that I use on a regular basis.
I have also started posting articles about different aspects of becoming self-sufficient as an artist. Those articles can be found by clicking here.
I still have quite a few things to add to the list but here are the core pieces, that I use on a daily basis.
Also, there are a lot of good alternatives to what I use and I will be covering those in future posts. However, for now, here is some insight into my tool kit. Be prepared to scroll. This is a long list
I hope that this is helpful for you.
As we all work to put our artwork online, I think it is important for us artists to remember one important thing:
Most people will never see your artwork in person.
Over the years as I began to understand this idea, the more I realized the importance for an artist to capture a high quality version of the artwork they create. Hopefully, this list will help with that.
If my artwork is small enough, I always try and scan the image first. From my experience, a scanner beats a camera 9 time out 10.
Mustek A3 2400 S Most scanners have a bed size of 8.5″ x 11.” When all my work was very small, that worked out just fine. But as my artwork got larger, I found I needed a slightly larger scanner. So, I recently upgraded to this A3 sized scanner. With a bed size of 11.7 x 16.5, this was the largest one that I could find that was’t crazy money. (See full details here)
Canon LiDE2200 (backup) This is the scanner that I just replaced. It worked great for me, image quality was good and the price isn’t too bad. I will probably be moving this one out to the studio to use for projects. (See full details here)
If your artwork is larger than the scanner, make multiple scans of each section of the painting. Then, using Photoshop, stitch the pieces together into one big image.
Most artwork is too big for a scanner, so that means we have to get our cameras out. Most cameras today will be high resolution enough to get a decent picture of your artwork. However, if you really want to get good copies (and you do!) then investing in a good camera setup will be necessary.
I know camera brands can be a touchy subject with people. Many people seem to align themselves as either “Canon” people or “Nikon” people.
I don’t have any real preference to either one. I actually owned Canons my whole life up until just 2 months ago and I made the switch to Nikon. I won’t get into all that here. That is for another post!
The D5500 is a great camera for what I need a camera to do, with the budget that I had. It takes beautiful photos, it’s lightweight and the flip-out, touch screen is a nice bonus. I know it seems a bit silly but being a visual person, I find the touch screen a huge benefit for framing shots.
More info coming soon.
When you are looking into cameras it is very easy to be swayed by the number of Megapixels each camera has but those numbers really hinge on the lens you use. All you have to do is look at the lenses a professional photographers carries around and you will probably find that they are carrying lenses that are more expensive than the camera! Now, I don’t have that kind of budget, so I do my research and try to find good lenses, that are price performers for the purposes that I need. So, here are the three lenses that I currently carry.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens
This is the lens that spends the most time on my camera when I’m outside of the studio. I originally got this lens because I needed a prime lens that was a little wider than the 50mm to take pictures for my wife’s website, Read Chop Eat. I have grown to love this as my walk-around lens. (See details here)
If you are a painter or create any type of work that reflects light, than a polarizing filter is a must! This helps tone down the reflections that you see in glossy surfaces. I actually have this inexpensive three pack which also comes with a UV and a Soft Diffuser. This will save you a ton of time in Photoshop if you can get rid of those reflections! Keep the UV on the rest of the time. (See details here)
ExpoDisc – White Balance
One last piece of the photography puzzle is learning how to set the white balance on your camera. This will help with better color representation of your artwork. While there a number of ways to set your white balance, I love this ExpoDisc. It makes setting the white balance so fast and easy. If you are new to white balance, I recommend reading this article real quick. (See details here)
So, we looked at the camera and the lenses but getting good photos of your artwork really comes down to lighting. Getting nice, even light distribution across your image is key. I still have a lot to learn in this area but a good setup and a basic understanding of how to light art is a good place to start.
LimoStudio Softbox Studio Kit w/ Boom Arm
I recently switched over to these soft boxes after using the umbrella style lights for years. These soft boxes appear to spread the light more evenly across the painting surface. Also, you don’t need the boom arm for artwork photography. So, you could go with just the standard two soft box setup. Like all camera gear, you can spend crazy money on lighting. However, this inexpensive kit works just fine for taking photos of artwork. I highly recommend investing in an inexpensive lighting kit. It will save you a lot of time in Photoshop.
Adobe Creative Cloud – Photoshop
When it comes to photo editing I rely completely on Photoshop CC. I really have a hard time recommending anything else. You can do anything that could possibly be necessary when it comes to editing photos of your artwork. And a whole lot more! Last year, when I was looking to upgrade my outdated version, I decided to switch over to the Creative Cloud version. Buying the full versions is pricey. Forget about it, if you want to get the full Creative Suite. With Photoshop CC, you always have the most up to date version. It is $9.99 / month but it’s worth the investment. (Learn more about Photoshop CC here)
We all know by now that if you want to sell art online you must have a website. The keyword being “must.” A website is the place where you can post your art and tell your story.
The problem is that is not always easy or clear where to go or what tools to use. If you are new to websites, it can be a daunting task.
What is listed here are the tools that I use. In the coming weeks, I will be walking through different steps on how to sign up and get started and also look at different website builders that may be better if you are a beginner.
The most frequent question I get asked is “What do you use to build your website?” WordPress is the site builder for me. It is free, has plugins for everything you can think of and has simple e-commerce integration. More info on WordPress will be coming soon. (See details here)
The second most frequent question I get asked is “What do you use to sell art on your website?” Hands down, Woo Commerce is the best shopping cart for WordPress. More info on WooCommerce will be coming soon. (See details here)
Once you have a website up and going it is essential to be able to see stats about the visitors to your site. How many people visit your website? How many people are visiting on a phone? What countries are your visitors from? etc… This is all information that helps you know what you need focus on for your website. (See details here)
With MailChimp & WordPress you can put sign-up forms like this into your website.