Take Better Photos of Your Art and Illustrations | Alanna Cartier | Skillshare

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Alanna Cartier, Artist, illustrator

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11 Lessons (1h 20m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:12
    • 2. Your Project

      0:50
    • 3. Supplies

      1:54
    • 4. Tips for Making Art

      4:05
    • 5. Flat Lay

      20:20
    • 6. Details

      6:33
    • 7. Still Life

      18:27
    • 8. Gallery

      14:28
    • 9. Outside

      4:57
    • 10. Editing

      5:12
    • 11. Thank You!

      1:07
24 students are watching this class

About This Class

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Working digitally means, that when you finish a piece of art, you can just click save to share it on Skillshare, Instagram or anywhere else, online or off. Working with paints and pens and pencils on paper is a little trickier! While you can scan your work, using photography to show off those real-world finished pieces on your website, online shop or across social media can make your work stand out. 

In this class, I take you through my process to photograph my work simply and consistently for social media and beyond. I’ll start by showing you how I plan my art to photograph well. Then we’ll cover five set-ups:

  1. The Simple Flat Lay,
  2. Capturing Details,
  3. The Still Life,
  4. The Gallery, and then
  5. We’ll take things outside to photograph our art in the world. 

This is not a class about fancy-pants flat lay photography. When I’m shooting my work every day for social media, I don’t have time to fuss with a million tiny details. Together we’re going to go over how to get high-quality photos without spending all day fussing! I can't wait to see what you create! 

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I'm Elena and I am an artist and illustrator living in Toronto, Canada and a top teacher here on Skillshare. I can't help but think that when it comes to sharing work online, digital artists have it so easy. When they finish a piece, they just click save and it's ready to share on Instagram, Skillshare or anywhere else on the Internet. But as an artist who works mainly with paints and pens and pencils on paper, it can be tricky as heck to show off my work online. Not only do I have to create a stream of new work to show, but I also have to photograph it, which involves mastering lighting and composition and all the tricky bits that go into editing a photo. Of course, I could just scan my work, but using photography to show off those real-world finished pieces helps my social media feed come alive. In this class, I'm going to take you through my process to photograph my work simply and consistently for social media and beyond. I'll start by showing you how I plan my art to photograph well, then we'll cover five setups: the simple flat lay, capturing details, the still life, the gallery wall, and we'll take our things outside to photograph our art in the world. This is not a class about fancy pants flat lay photography. When I'm shooting my work everyday for social media, I don't have time to fuss with a million tiny details. I just want to make sure I'm showing my work to its best advantage. Together, we're going to go over how to get high-quality photos quickly. If you love painting or drawing or collaging, and want to feel more confident photographing, and showing your work. This class is for you. You'll come away with concrete steps to take better, more consistent photos of your art and I can't wait to see the beautiful things you create. 2. Your Project: In this class, we'll be covering five different setups I used to get consistently great photos for social media and beyond. Your project is to choose at least one of these setups and use it along with the art-making and editing techniques we cover in the class, take a photo of your art to post in project section. I love hearing about your process, seeing the steps you took to get to that final finished photo and your fellow students will benefit from it too. So please share your process in your project and check what other student projects to hone your eye. Find what you love and help make skill share the vibrant community we all love. 3. Supplies: While a fancy pants camera can be a lovely toy to play around with, you don't need one. We are all carrying around a pretty top drawer camera in our pockets everyday, our phones. I'll be shooting on an iPhone for this class. But if you are using a different phone, you'll likely have all the same features, you'll just need to explore a little bit to find them or do a quick Google. Other things that can help you get consistently great photos include a tripod. I have a very fancy one that costs me hundreds of dollars, but you certainly don't need anything that fancy to get great shots. In fact, I'm not even going to use my very fancy tripod during this class because I need it to film. I have a few different, less expensive tripods I use when I need a very steady camera, especially for still-life photos. To use a regular tripod, you'll need a little attachment so that you'll clip your phone into it. Mine just came from Amazon. My favorite little tripod is this little Manfrotto one that cost me $30. It's easy to setup and I like to use it on a stool, tabletop, or a stack of books. I also have a JOBY one, that frankly, I don't like as much because it's wiggling [inaudible] , it takes forever for me to set up. I'd also suggest having something to filter and reflect light. I have a light reflector that has a sheer panel so it can reflect light to fill in shadows and filter light when it's too bright out. You can buy these on Amazon for varying prices or you can use a white piece of poster board to reflect light and some white pieces of printer paper to filter light. This is nice because you can reflect and filter light at the same time. That's it. That's everything you need. Up next, we'll discuss art making tips to make your art pop in photographs. 4. Tips for Making Art: This video is not required. But if you are looking to make photos of your artwork pop, then the first step is to make sure your artwork is composed well on your page in a way that photographs well. Here are my tips to make your work look as good as possible in photos. Consider where you're planning to post this photo. If you're taking photos of the 30-day art challenge to post on Instagram, you may want to choose a paper size that will really shine on Instagram, which is primarily square. I have a square sketchbook and a bunch of square watercolor pads that I use just for this purpose. Alternatively, if you're playing this piece to post on Skillshare, Pinterest or your website portfolio,each of those places will have different requirements for the proportions of the photo. Being aware of these constraints and advance means that your art will look just right. Some of the common ratios for your images are Instagram, square, which is a 1-1 ratio. Pinterest, tall pins, these are a 2-3 ratio. Skillshare, rectangles,these are 3-5 ratio. Depending on what portfolio website you use or what template on square space that will change how your images appear on those websites. Always check to find the right ratio if you're planning a particular piece. If you're using an iPhone, you can easily crop your images to these ratios in the edit menu on any photo, just select the ratio that you need for your image. Balance your work on the page. It doesn't have to be symmetrical, but it does help if your work has some balance. When I first got into painting, I'd sketch right on the page and often ended up with my work bunched in the corners. It made for horrible photographs, even if what I had painted was generally quite pretty. Now, I either sketch in my sketchbook and then transfer it to the surface where I'll be painting to ensure that my work ends up right where I want it on the page. Or I'll sketch a half inch to a one inch border around the edge of my page before I start sketching to make sure that my work won't end up squished. Ensure you have enough contrast in your work. Sometimes when we're working in color, it's hard to tell whether our colors differ enough in value to make our image stand out. If colors are too close together in value our eye doesn't know where to focus. Try taking a photo of your art as you create and changing it to gray-scale to check if you have enough contrast. Can you still see all the different elements of your art even when there isn't any color? If not, you might want to lighten or darken some bits or add some shading to differentiate the different elements. If you struggle to see value in your work, working in just black, white, and gray for a while can help to hone your eye. Cut down on colors. I love color, a lot, and if I let myself go wild, I'll use so gosh many colors that sometimes my work and up a little bit over the top. I'm not saying you need to pare your work down to a limited palette of three colors, but paring down the palette a bit can help you make your work feel more confident, which translates in your photos and can help your social media feeds or profiles come together with a cohesive look. Color is one of the simplest ways to express your style. Use confident lines. This sounds like lean advice to those of us who are just starting out, but I assure you it's helpful. The difference between a bold, confident line and one that is shaking and hesitant is often just practice. Try drawing from your elbow or shoulder instead of right from your wrist to get a more fluid motion in your lines so that your work will give off confidence, and so that your work will pop in photos. Now that we've covered how to make great art to take photos off, let's get started taking pictures. We're going to jump in to flat lays in the next video. 5. Flat Lay: A flat lay is a style of photography defined by the top-down angle from which it's shot. It's having a real moment right now on Instagram. You may find that most of the art you see on social media uses this setup. That's why it's more important than ever to take really beautiful photos of your own to standout. Now, let's get started by finding the good light. You will be looking for a place near a window, doesn't get harsh direct light. You want to consider the time of day, the direction of the window, and the weather. The windows in my apartment face straight west, which means that in the morning and early afternoon, I get really good light. But in late afternoon through the evening, my apartment gets flooded with all of the sun's fiery glow, which can leave really harsh shadows and hot spots on my photos if I try and shoot at that time. So I don't try to shoot at that time. Another consideration is the weather. Gray, cloudy days, stormy days, and rainy days are not going to be your friend when shooting your art in natural light. While I love a good, moody food photograph, that's not a look we're going for here. We want to show off our art to the fullest and we will need light for that. You may be able to get something passable when editing on a cloudy day, but the best weather for shooting in natural light is what I like to call late cloudiness. That weather where the clouds are wisps. You can see peaks of blue sky and the sunlight filters through, all soft and dreamy. But you can also shoot on full sunny day. Find the time of day where the light isn't streaming directly in your windows, or use a light diffuser, a sheer curtain, or some taped up printer paper to filter out any harsh light. Now that we know where to find the right light, let's focus on the mechanics of taking a good flat lay photo. When shooting a flat lay, you want to ensure that your camera is level to the surface you're shooting on, otherwise, the image will appear warped. It's not something that can be easily fixed in editing. So you want to make sure that you get this right. If you're working on an iPhone, it's so easy to get level photos. Just go into your settings, click "Camera", and then turn on the grid. Now, whenever your camera is pointed down, there will be a little cross at the center of your frame. It will let you know when your camera is perfectly level; when the white cross on the orange cross line up, you are golden. These are the most important things to know before we get started. Now let's jump in to our first flat lay setup. A flat lay can be as simple as taking a photo of your art on a clean surface. That's a great place to start because it helps us focus on the fundamentals. Let's first discuss lighting. You want to make sure you have even lay across the whole surface of your art. Otherwise, you may end up losing some information when you take that photo on your camera, because your camera may save certain pixels as pure black or pure white, and that'll end up looking pretty flat in your final image. To make sure your light is even, you can either fill light in using just a piece of poster board or a light bounce or any other fancy pants thing you have around the house. This will help make the light more even. You can also filter some light out using a light diffuser or just a white piece of cartridge paper like this, which actually looks pretty nice. Once you've got your lighting all figured out, you can also tweak it a bit on your camera. Simple as selecting your area of focus and then you just swipe up or down to tweak your exposure a little bit. To be honest, I don't use this altogether that much, but it can be helpful. Now that we've mastered lighting, let's focus on composition. Your image doesn't have to be perfectly centered on the page, but you will want to make sure that there's some balanced white space around your art so that it will be the focal point of your piece. I like to make my art be a little bit to the side generally, because I find this really dynamic, but it's totally up to you and whatever your preference is. One more thing to note, it's not that big of a deal if your image ends up a little bit crooked. Especially on an iPhone, when you go to crop your image, more often than not, the iPhone is just going to shift it for you slightly if it's off anyhow. So this isn't something you have to worry about too much. We've done one simple flat lay, now let's try something a little bit fancier. I love using art supplies in my work. All I do is just lay them down and see what looks good. The trick is taking photos of every part of the process, even if you don't think the setup is for you because later you might reflect on it and find that it's your favorite shot. Now this isn't my favorite setup, so I'm going to brush all this stuff away and try something else out, maybe a background to add a little bit more dynamic color to the setup. While this yellow isn't quite clashing, it's a bit too colorful. So I'm going to try something else. I have a blue background and a painted background. So let's play around with those. The blue background definitely lets my piece of art be the star. It's the focal point here, it's not being taken away from by that bright bold color behind it. I'm just going to play some paints now again to see how they look. There are two ways you can go about placing paints in a really rigid, pattern-like, geometric way or willy and nilly, I like to mix it up with some more structured and some tossed around like I was just painting. I'm not a huge fan of this setup either, it's just not sitting right with me. So I'm going to play more with backgrounds. Now I was planning to put this leafy background right behind my art. But as I set it down on the table, this caught my eye, this diagonal setup. Now, the corner of my art is sticking up a bit, so I'm going to stick that down with some tape to make sure that it's not catching a shadow. I always stick the tape to my hand first just to get rid of some of the stickiness so that it won't damage my art. Well, that looks much better if I do say so. I'm going to give the paints one more go, maybe they'll work in this setup. But already I'm not feeling it. Maybe. At the very least, from trying so many different setups, I end up with a bunch of photos on my phone that I can use on days when I'm not really feeling Instagram either. I'll have variations of all of the photos I've taken of my art. Now, I'm thinking that one of the reasons this isn't sitting well with me is that there's pink in the tea cup, pink in my thing, and then a big wall of blue. So I'm trying to bring that color story of pink to the other side of my painting. But this ribbon isn't super cooperative. I thought I could just toss it around and it might look cute, but it's not seeming to work and rolling it up isn't working much better either. Sometimes you'll try something and it just won't work the way that you planned. You'll try and take a photo, you'll look at it, and you'll just be like, "Get out of here ribbon." Over time, the more photos you take, the more of a repertoire of favorite items and tips and tricks you'll discover that work well for your art in particular, colorful things that you like for you. One of the particular things I like to include in photos of my art is tape. In this case, washy tape and a color of blue that coordinates with the painting and doesn't fight against it. There's a little bit of a pattern here, but it's not so bold that it's stealing focus from that bright, pink teacup. Washy tape in plain colors is a great tool and I also love using just plain old masking tape. It's got this beautiful texture and it will never fight with your work because it is the plainest looking thing on the planet. I've added a few paint brushes to the photo to see if they add a little bit more interest, but the Browns of the bristles are fighting a little bit with the work. I also tried a gold binder clip, but again, it was too many colors, so I swapped to black to see if it would complement. Binder clips are some of my favorite little bits and bobs to add to flat lay photos because they are visually interesting, even from the top and they're art supplies. So they fit the theme of pretty much anything I'm photographing. I'm going to try something a little different now. I have this stamp I got, it's got my logo on it. I use it for the back-up my prints that I sell in my shop. Unfortunately, it seems like I can't really get the face to show. I'm going to try something else. Sometimes you'll find that you'll try something that you think will be super cute, and it just doesn't shoot well from the top down. Just like this roll of tape. I thought by displaying it upright, stuck to the page, it could be interesting, but I'm not loving it. I didn't even take a photo. Even against my own advice, sometimes I don't even listen to myself. Sometimes when a photo's not working for you tells to just move your camera around and see a different part of the shot is what you're looking for. In this case. It wasn't, but it's worth trying. This might be a great moment to discuss a photographic principle known as, the rule of thirds. When you turn on the grid, this is the principle that it's allowing you to see in action. Those six lines that create a grid of nine boxes. The idea is, is that our eye is just naturally drawn to the points where the lines intersect. By framing your photos so that your art sits at one of those intersecting points, you can make your image more dynamic. Rather than just putting your art in the center of the frame. You can also leave your hand in the shot, to make it look like a real person made this thing. It's a great way to make your work feel more personal, especially compared to digital work that's just saved. That being said, you may want to have prettier hands than I do, to do this little trick. Although, I guess my scruffy hands do make it seem like a real artist made this piece of work. Now, I'm going to try a few things on just this painted background. Painted backgrounds like this are a great way to add your own personal style to your photographs. This took me, roughly 10 million years to paint. But it looks so great behind my paintings because I use a lot of the same colors. I can just pop the thing on top and it looks like I did a real considered piece. I'm going to tape down my corners again, just know that I'm not getting any shadows beneath what I'm shooting. It may be worth noting that if you have cardboard backgrounds like I have, or painted pieces like this, you'll want to be especially careful when adding and removing tape so that you don't wreck the thing and can't use it again. In this case, I put tape on the back so it's not a problem, but every so often, I'll tape the front and I just need to make sure it's not too sticky and I remove it very carefully. I think that shot might've been my favorite from the whole thing so far. But I have a few more ideas that I'm going to try out since I've already got my art out and I'm ready to shoot. I find for me, it takes a lot of motivation to start shooting. Once I start, I might as well make the most of it. One thing I do when I'm photographing my art is to just grab a whole bunch of stuff from my desk that's all the same color as what I'm using. In this case, there's no pencil crayon in this piece. But the colors work pretty well with the piece that I have. I'm just going to arrange them around. They look willy nilly, but they're not really, to see if it will highlight the work. I'm thinking that only half of this will be in the frame. I'm using my finger to hold down the half that would have the shadow since it won't be in the shot. Unfortunately, you can see the shadow of my hands. I'm going to try again. Hooray, no shadow. Now that we've covered how I get a simple flat laid photo, let's move on to a trickier setup that I call the messy desk. Just like with our simple flat lay, we're trying to tell a color story here. I always start my messy desks setups by grabbing everything that I think might coordinate with my art from my art desk. Pencils, paints, pens, pencil sharpeners, erasers, anything that has the colors that are in my art. I try and always include the supplies that I actually used to make the piece, but I also include a lot of other stuff. In this case, the painting literally only has three colors. But that doesn't mean that I can only include three paints. I want this to look like the messy desk that I would have while painting, except probably nicer, definitely nicer. My desk is disgusting. This is definitely a much fussier setup than a simple flat lay. I love arranging stuff. For me, this is something I find calming. But if you have a short amount of time, it's probably not for you. Or maybe you have a tidy desk and your desk just looks like this normally and you can just shoot straight from your desk. Congratulations for being tidy. But that's not the case for me. For me, I have to go around and arrange the items one by one. This is where all of that ephemera you use to make your art can come in handy to tell a story about you as an artist. For me, I create swatches of every single color of paint I have when I get it so that I know what it looks like. It looks great in shots like this, to highlight the colors of the piece without distracting from it. There's still something that's not quite sitting right with me about this photo. I'm going to tweak a few things to see if I can make it pop. One of my absolute favorite tricks to really bring life to your photos is to grab a tube of whatever paint you used in the piece. I mean, if you painted the peace, and to just squirt some of it out in a palette. Then it will look like you were just painting, even if you painted this thing days ago. Yes. You will waste a tiny bit of paint. But frankly, I mean, I've been painting for the last year and a half using these tubes of gouache and I've only emptied one. Probably, I can stand to be a little bit less stingy with my paint. Let's shift things down just a little bit so you can see what's happening. Gosh, I like this so much more already. It seems like the messy desk of an artist at work. Now let's just get everything into some semblance of order so that it doesn't look like a real mess. Especially when I'm shooting these messy, flat lays I find it really helpful to take a ton of photos. To be honest. The photo I ended up liking the absolute best out of this whole shoot, was not the one that I thought was my golden shot when I was shooting. Especially with these messy desk situations. Sometimes you get so focused on the little details that that's all you see in your photo. Then when you reflect on it later, you'll notice the thing more as a whole, a whole photo, so to speak. Which may change the photos that you love. In this case, I'm feeling pretty good. I love the top half of the shot. I've paired down the gouache and fast with the pencils and I'm just switching around colors of things to see what will work best. Another trick that I love, to make my desk a little bit more messy to look like it's worked in, is to just sharpen a pencil and leave all its little bits at the edge of your shot. That is the desk of an artist at work. I especially love little, broken pencil tips. I have a very soft spot for broken pencil tips. At this point, reflecting, that was my favorite dang shot. But at this point when I was shooting, I had no idea that I loved that shot. I was still going to keep fussing around because I thought I hadn't nailed it yet and that's okay because I got a great shot and I kept playing. I have a few different variations of this setup that I can post on my Instagram, a few weeks or months apart to keep things rolling. Here, I've rearranged things to put the lighter colored things at the top of the frame and the more colorful things at the bottom. I thought this would really draw focus down into the painting to where my teacup is, and I think it's working. I don't hate this. I had one more idea I wanted to try out before we finish up. I have all of these blue pencils, so I thought that maybe if I spread them all around like a real messy desk, they might help highlight my teacup. Roly-poly objects like pencils are their own fun adventure when you're doing shots like this, trying to get them to be spread out and interesting without all jumbling together. I'm trying to put some coming from all directions so that they'll look like they're out of frame when I take the photo. Not too shabby. Goodbye pencils, thanks. Now, I had one more idea. I know I said that other one was the last idea. But sometimes, inspiration strikes. Sometimes the inspiration doesn't strike. Because I wanted to try this setup, paintbrush and some water. I thought the water could create some really interesting light. But I've brought my pencil shavings in, I have my water, I have my paint thing, and I'm not loving it. You can tell from my messy jar, how I keep my desk generally. It is stingy and it's not looking great from above. But I haven't yet given up on it. I'm playing around with my funny little pencil tip. I thought it would be funny if it looked like it was coming out of the pencil. But this is all just a little bit disjointed, to be honest. It's not quite working. Is a different paintbrush going to help? I thought it might, but it didn't either. I also tried my little buddy pencil sharpener, which wasn't the ticket. Sometimes you'll try and you'll try and every little detail you'll add will just be not quite right. But the trick is keeping on going. In this case, I already have a few good shots behind me so I can pack it in and give up. But if you have it, keep experimenting, keep trying new things, and you'll figure out what works for you. Now that we've covered how to take a gorgeous flat lay photo, let's learn how to capture the details in your art and illustrations. 6. Details: There are some serious perks to working non-digitally and they can include the option, add beautiful details to your work that you just can't have in digital work. Gorgeous neons, gold paint or foil, massive texture. Whatever the details are that you want to highlight, I'm going to show you fabulous ways to present those details in your photographs. The setup to shoot details is a lot like the setup the take a flat life photograph. Let's start there. The main challenge when shooting detail shots, is making sure your work is crisp and in-focus. This involves paying attention to the minimum focusing length on your camera, or minimum focusing distance. This means that on certain cameras, you can only get so close to an object, before your camera just won't be able to focus on anything at all. You'll have to pull away a bit in order to get a shot. You may be tempted to use your camera's digital zoom, to get closer to whatever details you're trying to shoot, but don't do that. You're better off taking the photo from a little bit further away, and then cropping it later, to get closer to those gorgeous details in your piece of art. While I never show detail shots all on their own on my social media, a good detail shot can be the perfect addition to an Instagram post, when people swipe to see more about your work. When we're taking photos of our art as a whole, the art itself is the focal point of our shot. But when we're taking detail shots, elements within that piece of art, become our focus. The key is, to frame those elements in a way that is clear and interesting, and that can take a lot of trial and error. I've selected a bunch of my art to shoot, some has a clear subject, like my guinea hen and my woman's face, and some doesn't. How do we find the focal point on something like a mitten, and how do we decide on the focal point in a bunch of flowers. I've also selected a variety of mediums and textures. My lady face has metallic Sharpie accents on her hair and skin, my mushroom print has clouds, painted in thick white ink. Let's go through all of these paintings together, to find ways to capture details well. I'm going to start off by shooting my guinea hen, I love the texture of his little guinea hen body, and am particularly really in love with his feet. I'm going to try to take a shot with the feet as the focus. I'm trying to line up his little leg with the one-third line on my grid. This is actually pretty good, you can see all the pencil crayon details and the speckles. In each shot, I'm just trying to choose a different part of the image as the focal point. That's where I focus my eye, and that's where I focus my camera, because that's where I want people to look. In this case, when you're shooting details, it's not the worst if things are a bit worked, because it will make it look like a real physical object. I'm going to try shooting his little head as well, because it could be interesting, but without his little speech bubble, it's not as interesting. I added in the speech bubble as well. That's enough of this swearing bird. Let's focus on these flowers. I'm going to take photos one-by-one, using each different flower as the focal point, to see what works best. I noticed as I started shooting my first flower, that there's a lot of dark shadow at the edge of this painting, from where the curvy page is sticking out. I'm just going to tape that down, to make it a more even color, so that there is not a distracting dark shadow. Much better. Let's try this again. You'll notice, in this photo there's a lot less contrast in the background, and it lets the image itself come onto the foreground, so you can focus on the details we're trying to shoot. In each case, I'm trying to put the flowers that I'm focusing on, right on that third line, so that the eye is drawn toward them. I find the ones where I'm focusing most on the red rose, are the strongest. Red is a really vibrant color and it's almost always going to grab attention. Let's try a few things to capture the metallic details in this painting. I start by setting it on a flat surface and just seeing what I can pick up with my camera, the way I would normally shoot. This will help inform my further choices. As is, a lot of the gold is coming through, but I'm going to try tilting it, to see if I can capture more of that shine. In this case, it's complicated by the fact that I've drawn over the gouache and pencil crayon, which has a little bit of shine of its own. The challenge is, getting the shine of the gold, without making the pencil crayon shiny. I just keep tilting it, watching through my camera, to see when I hit that golden moment. Let's focus on this painting of mushrooms. You can't really tell from this far away, but up close, there is some serious texture in that ink, and that is what I want to capture in these photos. I'm going to use each cloud as its own focal point and go from there. The wooden table is a bit of a distraction, I'm going to try and get a closer shot, that doesn't have the table in it. Yes, now you can focus on the cloud and the cool pencil crayon texture of the grass. Let's work on photographing these mittens. Mittens are unique, because they don't have a natural focal point, like a face or a bird's face. I'm going to try and skew my image a bit, so that you could adapt the field effect, with a close up of the details. It doesn't have to take a lot of work, it can be just as easy as that. Now that we've mastered how to get detail shots of our work, let's move on to creating gorgeous still lives of our art and illustrations. 7. Still Life: While flattlies, have pretty much taken over Instagram and Pinterest and everywhere else on social media, the still life setup still has its own little home, online shops and stores. The still life is the perfect way to show off your art as a real object in the world, which helps all those people browsing your online store decide that "actually that piece of wood look perfect in my living room". If you're browsing through Raazi or any other online retailer, you may notice that a lot of the art starts to blend together. One of the reasons is that all of those folks are using the same markups that they found online. By mastering the still life setup, you'll be able to make your online shop stand out; either by making your own top-four markups or by taking unique photos of each of your pieces. I'll be shooting my still life on this little dresser. I rearranged my whole bedroom ages ago to give myself this corner where I can get good light and I don't have to worry about my art stuff being in the way. This dresser is perfect because it's a neutral color, doesn't clash with my art, and its small enough to move around. Sometimes it is a bit too small to coordinate all the elements that I want to have at my shots on top but for now, it works for me. If you don't have a neutral surface you can shoot on, just drape your surface in a neutral colored sheet so that it won't distract from your art. Now, let's get started on our very first still life setup. If you shooting on a tripod, you may notice that yours has these wonderful little levels on it, and that will be the key to take new good, still life photo, making sure your camera is level both horizontally and vertically, so your image doesn't appear warped. If you are shooting on tripod that doesn't have fancy-pants little levels, you can just go into the compass on your phone, it's actually a level as well, so, click through to the second screen by swiping, and you'll see this wibbly, lobbly line that will show you when your camera is level to the sides and then you can just tweak it so that the green line matches up to the lines of the edges. That will mean that your camera is perfectly perpendicular, straight-on, whatever it is called to your image so long as your image is on a level surface. If you're not shooting over the tripod, you'll want to make sure that your image has its four corners lined up with your grid or the edge of your frame, that's how you'll know that it's not warped. I've got my camera set up in front of my art and it's balanced on top of a stool and some yoga blocks. You'll notice during this section, you won't see me clicking my shatter quite as much, only because I have a very cheap little remote that I'll be using so that my face is in front of the camera the whole time. Mind game for free with a selfie stick for $15, if this is something you're interested in, it's very affordable. I'm shooting early in the morning, so there's not a lot of light streaming in my windows, but I still have a few pieces of printer paper taped up to block any harsh rays of Sun, I'm also using my light bounce to reflect a little bit of light back to make the image brighter. Not loving this setup, again, switch it around and see what else works. My plan is to try a bunch of different very simple set-ups and that will do a more complicated still-life afterward. If you're planning to use this still life to make a markup for your online shop, just shoot with a blank white piece of paper, something with texture is great, I used water-colored paper when I was shooting from my shop. There's a link in the project tab that will send you to a wonderful course that will teach you how to make markups, If that is your cup of tea. I'm just tweaking this candle setup in order to make it really pop; especially things that are shiny and gold, I find adding just a little bit extra light really makes the photo stand out. In this case, my candles are a bit too lined up, but that's okay. I'm not [inaudible] even set up anyway so I'm going to swap it out for something else. Now, I love this goofy cat statue, I bought it in Jamaica, I didn't even want it, the man was a very good barterer. I think that the browns in it complements the work here, pretty done well, I was expecting it not to match, but it looks great. One thing you may have noticed throughout the course of this entire class is that I tend to shoot a little bit dark. By not maxing out the brightness as I'm shooting, it means I can increase the exposure without any areas of my photo becoming way too bright and blown out. I'm just putting the pencil crowns back in to stay in drilling them around to get the best colors that compliment my art. Goodbye spooky cat. You also notice that sometimes as I'm shooting, I just lift and drop my light bounce. Sometimes my eye can't tell if the lighting is changed, so by lifting it and dropping it, lifting it and dropping it again, I can figure out where the light is hitting and how to make it better. I am adding some more spooky cat statues to highlight what not to do. In this case, my painting is filled with warm tones of pink and warm gray and these spooky cats are filled with reds and deep blue gray and their cats, which aren't in the painting. I find that they distract from the painting because they're too interesting, so this is something you want to look out for when you're shooting, you don't want something that's going to grab focus away from your painting. Art supplies are almost always a great supply to use because they're not really that interesting to look at. I also love shooting with glass jars because you can use really cool light to make it look like they're good listening. Depending on the time of day you're shooting or where the sun is in relation to your apartment, that will depend where you need to have your light bounce when you're shooting. It may be worth noting that not one of these things that I am using to shoot right now are things that I've gone out to purchase, I just scraped up my apartment for anything that had colors that I thought would go with my art, or Canvas C type things like these unpainted nesting dolls which I bought for a project that I'm still working on. In this case, they looked really great with the top of the desk that I'm shooting on, or the cabinet that I'm shooting on. I thought that they might look interesting around the door, especially considering they mirror the shape of the door in this photo, I'm adding a plant just to add a little bit more color to the composition. Anytime I'm shooting with something opaque like that plant, I'm probably going to try and put it on the side that's farthest away from the light so it doesn't cast shadows across my work. I also try and put nearly everything behind my art and that way, it doesn't distract from the art. Another one of my favorite tricks for shooting still life is to stack them on top of books, covers of books can give you tons of great color by stacking them page-side out, you're not going to have those distracting titles that will draw the eye away from your beautiful art. Now I just tweak my makeshift tripod to get it in just the right place, I could also just crop it after I shoot, just trying to bounce a little bit more light off that fancy pants candle. Much better, you'll notice because I'm using this weird wonky tripod setup situation, It's not totally centered up and down, but that's okay, I'm just going to tweak it later when I edit it. Iv'e scavenged a few more supplies from around my house, I can't keep them all in here because this is my bedroom, I'm just going to try out a few more simple things with this painting. This wasn't part of my plan, but I'm really liking the painting alone with this red buck, so let's do that first. Perfection. Now let's just try a few more things. I have extra plants and some other fun candlesticks I wanted to try with this painting. They are not in the pinks and reds, warm tones like all the other things I tried, so I'm not sure they'll go. But it never hurts to try out something new. I'm moving the candlesticks around to make sure we get a little bit of white space between them so you can see them apart from each other. I'm trying to use them to frame the art. I'm also going to add this plant in behind to try and bring the colors from the candlesticks across. Again, going to use my light bounce to reflect a little bit of light to make it brighter. Also, learn from my mistakes. If you're using tall candlesticks like these guys, make sure your candles are straight to the edge of your painting, I didn't do that. I just have one last idea I'm going to try out for this simple still-life using my favorite model, my fat cat, Penelope. This is one of the vast advantages of working with physical paints and pencils and all of this good stuff on paper, is that you can stage it like a real thing with real living creatures in the shot. In this case, Penelope is digging being a model, or she just is too afraid to jump down. I'm not really sure. But I am loving these shots because you know what makes a house, a home? A kitten. I think Penelope is done being a model and I think that I am done with this setup. Up next, we're going to cover a more detailed still-life setup. How to build it up, how to make sure you're telling a color story and how to take a great photo. When I'm building up a detailed still-life photograph of my art, I like to start simple. In this case. I'm starting with that red book I loved with my door painting. I like the color of it with this red robin's belly and I also had an idea. It's not really a fancy still-life. But I want to try it out because this robin is clearly worried about something and these spooky cats might be just the right thing. I think if I were that robin, I'd be doing a swear too. I'm going to add even more cats. Luckily, with this painting, unlike our door painting, it include some typography and a little face. So the cat figurines don't draw away from it as much. They also begin to tell a story about this piece and why the robin is swearing, and I love that. Keep in mind that these are a vintage piece, but I still wouldn't probably use them in anything where I'm trying to rigidly sell my work, just where I'm trying to show it off, because I never want to use another artist's work as a way to sell my own. That's not really cool. My plan is to build up a more complicated still-life piece-by-piece. Figuring out what works and then taking away the things that don't and replacing them with things that work better. In this case, I'm already not loving those paint brushes, but I'm going to grab some more stuff and see what works. Right now, I have a ton of different colors going on. I have the reds that are in my robin, the green of the plant, multi colors of that little coaster underneath my mug, the blues in the brushes, It's way too much. All of it is way too much. While I love lots of it, it's just not working. I'm going to shift everything over, so it's more centered in my frame and then start to refine this setup. Even just twirling around that jar of brushes has made it so there are fewer colors in here. The bright blue cobalt colored brushes aren't focus anymore. But I'm still going to swap them out.I don't think they're contributing enough to take up space. I also considered adding my candlesticks, but I realized they're just going to get lost behind the pencil crayons anyway. I'm also switching my pencil crayons for something warmer tone. This jar of reds which immediately livens this whole setup up. It makes the plant look like it's contrasted with all the other colors instead of a thousand colors all fighting with each other. Since red and green are complimentary colors. I also thought I'd try this candlestick as well, but you can't really see it through the jar. So I'm getting rid of it. I'm also going to swap out the plant for maybe a different plant. This one has a little bit of red in its leaves and in hindsight, I really like it. I wish I had taken a photo of it, but at the time, I thought that it wasn't quite working, so I switched back to the original plant. Let's get a peak to see what's working. I want to move this over. A little bit more is still. So you get more of the shot. This is one of the disadvantages of having a small surface to shoot on. If you have a big table that's near an open window, I'd be great. But this works for me. It also provides some limitations because otherwise I could add details all day long. I'm trying to block just a little bit more of the light coming through the window because I'm finding that the white objects that are on that side are getting a little bit too bright for my liking. I found shooting still-life, particularly against this white wall a little challenging on my iPhone. It has some troubles white balancing. So you'll notice I tap a lot set it to focus. I'm also going to do a little bit more editing on these photos to get them to show in the warm white way that I like. I'm getting in close, so I can focus on the composition and see ways that I can tweak to make it better. Part of it is that there's a big wall of red over here. So I'm trying to break it up using my little Matryoshka dolls that are unpainted. Now let's see how that works. I'm also going to add this little candle for a little bit of shine. I like it because it mirrors the frame that my bird is in. That's the trouble when shooting with a remote, you can't see what you're shooting. But I think I like what's happening here. I move the pencil crayons back a little bit and I'm just going to see how that looks. Don't love it, not as good as the first way. Now let's start breaking this down and then take photos of every single part of the process as I break it down. I find this part of taking a still life really helpful. It's like Coco Chanel says, "Before you leave the house, take off one accessory." In the same way, still lifes can get really cluttered as you're building them up and trying to focus on the details. So by breaking things down slowly and taking photos of every part of the process, you'll get a lot of really great shots. I have this idea that I could use the book to create an interesting backdrop behind my robin. But I think let's just stick with simple. Up next. We'll cover how to take photos in a gallery setup. 8. Gallery: Part of the joy of making art is the way that your pieces or if together to tell a story about you as an artist, or a story about the process you used to make the piece. That's where this gallery setup comes in displaying a few pieces of your art altogether along with different details, can begin to build a narrative about your work for who you are. The key is knowing what details to add. The first step in the process of building a gallery setup is going through your art and finding things that work together. You can organize by theme or by colors, although you're going to have to organize by color a little bit either way. For me, I'm just going through my stack, I don't have any ideas out of the gate about what I'm doing here. I'm just picking things that I think would be cute together. This birthday girl painting caught my eye and it's something I'm really interested in. So I'm trying to grab pieces that I think would go with it. In this case, the cake, flowers maybe I'll do a collection of items that are birthday themed, maybe the best birthday ever. Now that I have an idea in mind, I'm going to keep going through my stack of paintings to find things that will go with this theme and with the colors in the paintings. The next step is to start arranging your images on the wall. I'm using just plain old masking tape, and I'm thinking that this might be great to do it in a grid pattern because I have selected a bunch of 4 by 6 images from my 30-day triangle challenge. If you're working with things that are all different sizes or it's just your preference, absolutely overlap things, organized them in interesting and organic ways, it doesn't have to be a grid. I've rearranged my paintings a little bit to tell my story better. I want my birthday girl to be in the very center, and then all of the other details will surround her to try and tell the story of her perfect birthday. I don't know where I got this idea from, but I am taking it. Other thing I'm paying attention to are the colors in each piece. My birthday girl has a fairy neutral ivory background. I've got some paintings with pink backgrounds and some paintings with blue backgrounds. So I'm trying to keep everything balanced within the composition of this little gallery I'm creating. I'm also trying to keep in mind the different shapes that are in each piece. In this case, I've got some that are balanced more towards the bottom of the frame, somewhere very triangular and the center of the frame, so I'm trying to spread things out so that they look like they go together, they're cohesive and they tell a story. All of these pieces are part of a 30-day challenge, so they're using all the same small limited palette. That being said, there are a few pops of bright colors and dark colors, and I want to make sure that they are evenly spread throughout the composition of these paintings. If I put something really dark and I put them all at the bottom, it's going to make the composition very heavy. But if I make sure they're spread around so that the eye doesn't settle anywhere, that's going to be the most dynamic. I'm also trying to draw focus to the center image, that birthday girl in her hat, so I'm framing it with a dark color on top and a dark color on the bottom to hopefully ground that lady and focus the attention on her. I also have a lot of bright terms in this, but right now they will all concentrated on one side of the frame.So am switching them around, so the reds will dance across the whole composition instead of being trapped in one corner. Now when it comes to this last image, I don't know what I'm going to do. I have a few things that could work, but I'm not sure, that red rose is a little bit too thorny and seems to add a negative connotation to this little birthday story I'm creating. So I'm going to try something else. This tree matches the shapes in the other corners but doesn't really contribute to the story. I'm thinking maybe I could add some swatches that would bring in some of the colors from the pieces and tell the story that way. Let's see how they look, not feel on it. I think the swatches make it feel a bit too processy when I want this that up to tell a story. Since the other four corners of my composition have a pink background, I'm looking for something or the pink background to keep that balance intact. Even something with pinks in it isn't quite sitting the purpose. So, oh, but this is interesting. I don't hate it, and I do love a good or any day that maybe my dream birthday to be fine, nice for any day, cake and flowers and handsome man in a tuxedo. I'm on board, now let's start taking photos. Since I'm shooting on the wall in my living room, I've got lots of great lights. So I'm just focusing on getting a few different shots at different distances to figure out what works best. Next step, we'll cover a gallery setup that's more focused on process. I'm starting by taping all of the process pieces I have for this up onto the wall. This is a commission I did for a friend, and so I have the sketch, I have all of the little trials that I did in my sketchbook, and I have this latches that I use to plan out the colors. So I am going to use all of these different elements to create a really interesting photograph. I'm using that same old washy tape that I love, that I've used in previous videos. I love the symbol pattern of it, I love the colors in it, and I think it complements the work really well here. But I am going to try a variation later with just plain masking tape to see what stands out more, what really makes my work shine. Part of what gets you the absolute best photos is just iterating, looking at your images and seeing what little things you can tweak to make it even one percent better because that's really the trick to improving any skill. You can't get a 100 percent better overnight, you never going to be perfect, but if you make small changes, you can improve over time, one percent plus one percent plus one percent is a lot of percents. I'm just sticking this extra swatch at the top. It's a light color so it's not going to draw the eye too much out of my frame. I think having three together is better than having block because our eyes just really like groups of three items together. Frankly, I could probably leave the sludge out, but I really like the color and I think it add something by having it here, by searching it on its side, it makes it seem less like it's a swatch like the other swatches and makes another group stand on its own as a little group of three. I'm pretty happy with this setup so far. I think it tells an interesting story. My sketch isn't in there yet, but I'm going to take a photo of just of this part of the process. I'm going to hold up my light balance to see if I can filter some of the light or add some light. But I don't think it's helping. Especially when you're learning how to take better photos of your work. Just playing with the lighting as you go can be incredibly helpful, even if you don't end up using extra lights at all. If you're just worked with natural light. Because the thing is you're training your eye to see how the light changes when you interact with it. That is valuable. I'm going to move these swatches so I can add my sketch to this photographic composition. My sketch is actually a digital sketch. I sketch this initial aim, procreate and printed it off so that I could transfer it to watercolor, which means it has all those scratchy lines from where I traced it. That's fine. I want it to look like it's been used to create this piece. Frankly, it's not the focal point. The finished piece is when you're trying to make the I be drawn to a certain part of your photo. Things you can consider are, where's the most contrast? Where are the most colors? Is there typography because our eye is drawn to type things like that. In this case, because my finished painting is very bright, has a ton of contrast and hostile biography. It pretty much magnetizes your eye right there. Only after you look at that finished peacock painting do you scan around the rest of the piece. In this photo and my previous galleries set up, I've used only paintings and drawings and other paint related things, but you could absolutely bring in other objects and items, pieces of nature like leaves and feathers, or fun details like ribbons and who knows what else? I normally just stick to parts of my process, papers and painting because they're easily accessible around my office when I want to shoot. I don't have to do any pre-planning to make sure these things that are around. I'm just switching my sketch with my finished painting to see how that affects the composition. Moving things around within your composition is a great way to figure out where your focal point actually is. Sometimes you'll think that the eye is being directed towards exactly where you want it to be. Then we'll switch it around and see how wrong you were. Always play. It's the best way to learn how to take better photos and it makes the whole experience a lot more fun. See, I thought that having my peacock in that top left corner was the perfect choice. But by switching around, I've given myself more options. I can re-post this on Instagram later and I like it better. I never would have discovered that if I hadn't tried this out. Now, I'm going to switch out my tape to see whether I like the masking tape more or the washy tape. This just gives me more options to re-post and fill my social media app with wonderful content. I had the idea that it might look nice to leave just the finished painting with the fancy tapes so I'm taking a few photos to see how it looks. Switching out that last piece of tape. I honestly don't know whether I like the fancy tape or this plain old masking tape better. But trying both things gives me a lot of options when it comes to showing this work later, I'll have lots of photos that are just a little bit different. I'm taking shots at a few different angles at a few different distances to get the most out of already having said all this stuff up. I just have one final thing I think is a great idea. This setup is really great, but it includes all the parts of my process. I'm thinking that maybe I should photograph just the peacock finished painting separately and then have all of these processes bits for one of those two-part Instagram posts where you can swipe to see more. I'm just shifting around the details of this composition so it will look great as its own photo. Goodbye tiny bits and bobs. Now we're just about finished. I just want to get one final shot of my peacock, all by [inaudible] fancy self. That's all there is to this gallery setup. Up next, we'll be taking our things outside and photographing our art in the world. 9. Outside: The first step, for shooting outside is to grab all the things you're going to need. I use my handy backpack, fill it up with art I thought will shoot well outside, a list of shots I wanted to get and some shoes because I thought a top-down shot might be nice. My phone is in there as well and I am ready to go. I'm on the hunt for areas where there's cool texture, even light, maybe a pop of color and some interesting angles to shoot from. Dappled light like this will make it hard to shoot. You'll get very shadowed areas and very hot, bright areas. It's too dang bright. Look for areas that are either in full shade or full sun, where the whole scene is lit with an even light. Now let's unpack to get set up for our very first shot. I brought my husband along. He's going to hold these images for me because I am only one person and I only have so many hands. Just like in all the previous videos, we're trying to line up our shot so that it's the focal point of the image. That it's centered and that it's interesting. I coordinated these snails to my background. That yellow green snail with a pretty golden [inaudible] in the back, really complement each other and you want to think about this when shooting outside. You always want to shoot a few variations as well. I switched it so my blue-green snail is at the bottom, to see if that looks better and I do like it. Let's try a few more variations. I absolutely loved the texture of these bricks that I found down a spooky little alley in my neighborhood. I thought they would wonderfully compliment my red door painting and I was not disappointed. Frame your shot, set it up and shoot. Ready to go. Let's try something else. Shooting outside is absolutely great way to get tons of photos really quickly. Even with carrying around my tripod and my camera for recording. This only took me a morning to get a ton of beautiful shots for my Instagram. It can be a little bit scary thinking of bringing your art outside to photograph it. But this was the most fun I had filming in the entire class. One thing to keep in mind when you're shooting outside. If you come upon very fancy mural that you think would make the perfect backdrop to your art, it's probably best not to use it. Again, we don't want to use other artists work to promote our own work. That's not fair. You're not compensating them for that. Instead, rely on natural textures or nature or any other number of things to make your art truly shine. You can also do flatly style photographs outside. I brought along this pair of shiny shoes to use as a prop. I'm also going to mess around with the leaves that are already here. We'll see how it goes. Looking at this setup through my camera, I'm tweaking it a bit. But I think I'm going to try without the shoes. They aren't working for me. Much better. I'm really liking this. I know it has a little bit of dappled light, but I think it works with the composition. Now, I just want to give you a reminder. The best way to get better at literally any skill is to practice, to explore, to experiment, to go out into the world and just try new things. For me, I know my photography has gotten worlds better since I started this class. I know if you go through the process to take a lot of photos, your work is gonna get so much better too. Keep shooting indoors or out. That's how you'll take better photos of your art. Up next, we're going to cover some quick edits to make your photos are really shine. 10. Editing: Getting the shot is just the very first step to getting a gorgeous finished photo. Editing is the final touch that will take your photos from good to great. Let's get ready to edit. You definitely don't need expensive tools to make simple edits on your photos. Those simple edits are going to make your photos shine. I use a combination of the regular photo App on your iPhone and the features for editing within Instagram itself. Let's start with the photo App. Just click Edit and you'll be presented with all options. I always start by ensuring that my photo is not crooked. All you have to do is drag in either direction. There will be a grid present so that you can line your photo up. Next, I crop. You could do this by holding the edges or you can grab one of the pre-selected ratios and it will crop your image automatically. Once you've selected a ratio, you can resize your image by that ratio by selecting the edges again. Or if you want to go back to free form, you can just click "Reset." Both these innate editing features on your phone and Instagram itself have a selection of filters. I don't recommend using them because they'll play around with the colors in your photos in the way that you probably don't want. But sometimes it is helpful to look through them to see the different editing styles and ways in which you can make your art work. For me, I know I like a warm birthright editing style, but this may help you nail down what you like. Next, let's look at the light and color editing features here. Let's start with light. The two most important things are exposure and black point. Everything else is optional. Feel free to play around with them, but these are where we'll focus. Exposure attempts to mimic the way that your camera filters light through it. It keeps your darks darker, it doesn't wash out your color, like playing with the brightness will. That being said, you still want to be careful for hot spots. Make sure you're increasing the brightness, only the minimum amount that you need to. If you make it too bright, you'll end up with areas in your photos that are just plain blocks of white and it will draw the eye because it will look a little bit off. Once you're done using exposure to brighten your image, we want to focus on the black point, because when you lighten your image, it lightens the dark parts as well. By increasing the black point, you'll give your image more contrast and make it look a little bit richer. The other thing we're going to focus on is what they call cast here. But it's sometimes referred to as warmth or temperature. It refers to the warmness or coolness of the light, which is either orange or blue. You can see it best when you go to the extremes. I always tweak this a little bit to make my images just a little bit warmer. I don't want anything to appear orangey or yellowy, but I do want everything to appear like it's in a cozy little studio. Now there are some features that that camera App doesn't have. We're going to go into Instagram and explore the editing features there. You access the editing features in Instagram just by beginning to create a post. The first thing you'll see are all of these fancy filters, which we're just going to ignore. Click "Edit" to access all the fancy editing features. Instagram has even more possibilities for cropping and twisting and drilling your image. Also has features, in case your image is slightly warped, it can tilt it a little bit to correct it. Instagram also has settings for structure and sharpen. These are two very similar tools. They both lighten or darken the edge of different color areas in order to make your image look more crisp. If you overdo it, it might end up looking a little bit hyper-realistic. Just keep an eye out for that. Those are all the editing tools you'll need to get good rate photos. Now, you're ready to post wherever it is that you want. Here are a few of the edited photos I took during the course of this class. If you want to see a close-up version of any of these shots, you can find them in my project in a project section of this class. Feel free to check it out, comment, or any other thing that your heart desires. 11. Thank You!: Here we are at the end of another class and we've covered so much together. I'm so grateful that you are here with me. If you have any questions or concerns or just cool, fun things you've think of that you think I would like, leave a post in the discussion section or reach out to me on Instagram. I'd also be ever so grateful if you could take a moment to review my class. I read every single review, and I love hearing nice things and not so nice things too, because all of your valuable feedback helps me bring you better classes. If you're posting in Instagram, please tag me at Alanna Cartier Illustration, or use the hashtag Alanna Teaches. Thank you so much for taking this class, for creating beautiful things, and for just being awesome.