Deviant Login Shop  Join deviantART for FREE Take the Tour

:iconwatercolorists: More from watercolorists

More from deviantART


Submitted on
July 20, 2013


2,299 (1 today)
11 (who?)
Hello friends and members!

My name is BASbird  and I’m a moderator for  :iconwatercolorists:.

As we strive to keep this group a handy resource for water based medium lovers and learners, we have come across some submissions that are wonderful and that we’d love to have in our :gallery: but the scanning was so poor we had to reject them.

We understand that many are not financially able to have access to a scanner, so this Aqua Tip is about using your camera for scanning an image.

There are several key things that lead to a bad photograph.
-Uneven lighting
-Not enough lighting
-light source being blocked by arm or camera resulting in a “spot” of shadow on a piece
-crooked shot
Out of all of these, the crooked shot problem is the easiest to fix. Out of all of them, the spot shadow problem is the hardest to fix.
The Basics to remember:
-Natural sunlight is the best for taking photographs. If you can take your picture during the day, that’s the best. There are special light bulbs that mimic natural sunlight, but they’re WAY expensive.
-if you’re taking a photo with a light source that is concentrated like a lamp, make sure you’re BEHIND your light so you don’t cast a shadow when taking a picture.
- and don’t stand between your light source and your picture. Stand at a 90 degree angle, or a 45 degree angle.
-if you don’t have a tripod, objects like blocks of wood, books, chairs…anything can be a tripod!

-The copy stand method-

For the best photographs, we’re going to make a make-shift copy stand.

A copy stand is a set of two lamps set at 45 degree angles converging at a point with a camera directly over head behind the lights. The piece goes at the point where the two lamps converge. A copy stand looks like this. ... ...

Diagrams courtesy of

In which the object in the pictures is our piece of art.

Copy stands can run from a thousand dollars or more, but with two portable goose-neck lamps and a phone/MP3 player camera, we can make one that does the same job for a fraction of the cost. Bed Bath and Beyond has small goose-neck lamps for 15 dollars each.

The lights are at such an angle that the piece is fully lit and yet the light source is not obstructing the view of the camera. The copy stand is/was used a lot for animation recording, thousands upon thousands of images could be quickly captured without moving the camera and quickly sent to a computer/roll of film. All old 2D Disney movies were shot with a copy stand.

-Things to remember:

-Make sure the lamp isn’t LOOMING over the picture, it should be next to it casting light from an angle.

-Make sure the camera is straight, and securely strapped to your tripod! In times of doubt, duct tape is your friend.

Hopefully these tips will help you take better photos. Slowing down to take time on presentation is key! Many art classes won’t consider your art if it’s crooked or shot poorly, and most importantly, capture errors take away from the beauty that should flow naturally from your art.
Happy Painting!!

Many thanks BASbird for the time and effort you spent putting this Aqua Tip together of our members.

We invite all of our members to add your ideas and experiences, in the comments below, that will help the rest of us do a better job scanning with a camera.

warm regards Cmac13
Add a Comment:
BASbird Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013  Student General Artist
Here are the direct visual aides everyone!……
ChiakiNeko Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013   General Artist
Thanks for the tip about the copy stand! 2 angled lamps definitely work better than 1 direct lamp xD
nelchee Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Professional General Artist
The copy stand diagrams links don't work.
Cmac13 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
try copy and paste into your browser :nod:
nelchee Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Professional General Artist

You don't have permission to access /borisat/nenam/ on this server."

I think this URL is incorrect. There are "..." dots after the supposed URL, so the author must have copied these links from some forum or other place and the rest got lost.

abasss Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013
Nice tip. I fully support taking your pictures in the natural light, I always got the best results in that way, even if my camera wasn't great. }

One thing though; links are not working!
Cmac13 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Hi Agus :iconslipperyhugplz:

really? darn

i have not found a way to edit these journals - just delete or submit a new one - any ideas on how i can get back into it to fix the links?

:heart: Carole

PS we miss you :glomp: hope you're well :manhug:
abasss Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013
Somewhere in this page you'll be able to see a blue button with the word "Edit", click it.
lu--24 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi! This is surely a helpful tip! :D

I generally try to make photos to my watercolour works around midday with full day light, and setting the camera so that the outcome is bright but not too much, and that the background tends to white... I didn't know about copy stands, and it looks like a good alternative when I can't afford photographing in the day...
- just one thing: the links to the diagrams don't work to me, I just see part of the web address... I don't know if it's just me... -

Anyway, regarding poor scanning results, I've run in a really useful tip some weeks ago, it really improves scanning, and it's very cheap and easy, too. It consists in putting one (or more) transparency film between the artwork and the scanner plate. It helps a lot with light shades (that my scanner refused to acknowledge), and I was amazed with the results when I tried it! :la:
(I found out at the end of this tutorial: )
Now, I try both the scan and the photo, photoshop them as I can, and I finally select the one I think represents the artwork better (it generally depends on the boldness of the lineart and the colours).
But, for one who needs to actually print the work, I believe scanning is always the best choice.

I hope it was of help! ^^
ChiakiNeko Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013   General Artist
definitely gonna try the transparency film next time! I've always had trouble getting my paintings to look right xP
awesome tip, thanks for the link :D
Add a Comment: