Artwork Scanning/Photography Equipment and Processes?

Because I don’t feel that I’m using the best option for scanning my finished paintings, I’m hoping that I can get some information from the members here.

I’m currently scanning my work using an Epson V330 Photo scanner. It does a great job and captures the smallest of details at very high resolution. The color is good but I always have to make a few small color adjustments in Photoshop.

The main problem with this scanner is the glass size which is 9”x12”. It’s hassle free when scanning anything smaller, but my work is usually bigger than the glass. I opted for this scanner because of its “Scan-n-Stitch” capability, where you could scan sections and stitch them together using the provided software. I don’t find their software to be accurate, so I use Photoshop to stitch the portions together, but there is always distortion that has to be corrected in order for the images to line up correctly. The outcome is very good but it’s a time consuming pain of a process and I’m sure that there are better ways.

Because it costs about $125 to have even the smallest paintings professionally scanned/photographed locally (which I do occasionally), it would be beneficial and more cost effective to have the equipment on hand.

I would love to hear about your scanning and/or photography equipment and processes…especially from the close-realist painters.



I’ve only photographed pieces to show on Internet. But would like to produce prints soon so watching this thread with great interest. :slight_smile:

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“Bump”…because I’m really hoping for some tips. Anyone?

Hello, I’ve never thought of buying my own scanner, as I’ve gotten my work scanned in Toronto where they have one of a handful of large-scale (museum quality) scanners You’re right that the cost can be pricy. I tend to photograph paintings smaller than 24"x 36" with my Nikon D7000 (16.2 megapixels) and can print up to 18"x24" high quality.

To answer your question about my technique of photographing my work, I use a tripod, set the zoom at 50mm ideally (DX camera), position my two Bowens 500-watt strobe lights very far apart (more than 45 degrees) and then set a timer and shoot. I also use a Datacolour colourchecker to correct the calibration in Lightroom afterwards. If you don’t have this equipment, I recommend shooting outside on a overcast day, but the colour will be more washed out and will need to be corrected in Photoshop. The main thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want direct flash/light straight on… oil paintings are harder photograph than acrylics because they’re glossy, so if you have to have indirect light source (also, set the white balance accordingly to your type of light)

Hope this helps.


Great info Josh! Thank you~~~ :smiley:

Thank you Josh!!!

After careful research, last week I purchased a Sony A6000 camera (24 megapixel) and a 60mm prime lens. I really appreciate the confirmation! Now I’m looking into lighting and I’ll definitely check out the dual Bowens 500w strobes that you mentioned…and the Datacolour checker.

I’m also leaning towards a cross polarization set up, using linear gels in front of the lamps with a linear filter on the camera (oreinted at 90° from the lamp gels) to cut glare. Do you (or anyone else) happen to have any input on this polarization rig? Or any other tried-&-true paintings/copy photography tips?

You’re welcome, Slade. That’s interesting about the polarization setup. I do have a polarizing filter, but haven’t used it in years (now that I think about it, maybe I should be using it!). My strobes have umbrellas, so the light is more indirect… I know softboxes are good as well to diffuse the light.

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Also, as you may know, primes are the sharpest lenses, so that’s great you have a 60mm… I use my 35mm for photographing larger pieces and my 60mm for smaller ones. Have fun with your new camera!

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Ya, after playing with it, the 60mm is sharp as a tack (especially at f8) but seems a bit long for larger work. I have my eye on the Sony 35mm 1.8, which would be great for larger work (although I don’t usually paint much larger than 16x20") . It’s also known to be very sharp and true-to-color, and would be a better walk around lens.

For anyone interested…

Sony A6000 mirrorless SLR, 24.3 megapixels. A great option for large/ high-resolution images. The stock 18-55mm lens is decent, with built-in image stabilization and is good for HD video and snapshots, but loses sharpness at the outside edges and colors are a little unsaturated, so not great for 2D art/copy work.

Sigma 60mm F2.8 EX DN Art for Sony SE. Known to be one of the sharpest prime lenses (fixed focal length) for Sony mirrorless cameras. Nicely balanced vivid colors. Highly rated for 2D art/copy work and portraiture. Sharpest at f8-f11 apertures. Extremely low barrel distortion. It isn’t equipped with the built-in image stabilization (OSS) that Sony’s closest equivalent 50mm has, but a tripod is always necessary when photographing paintings even with OSS, and its sharpness rating is higher than the Sony 50mm.

Note: The 60mm lens on Sony mirrorless cameras are the equivalent of a 90mm. This means that you would need to be pretty far away to capture the full image of larger pieces, which is why the 35mm (52.5mm equivalent) would be better for paintings larger than 30" or so. This is also why the 60mm isn’t a great daily shooter but is excellent for portraiture.

Samples using this camera and lens on Flickr:

Polarizing Filters:
Although I haven’t purchased and used it yet, professional copy photographers use linear polarizing filters on the lens in conjunction with linear polarizing gels on the lamps, with the lens filter set at 90° to the gels, to eliminate glare. Cirular polarizing filters are known to have inconsistent polarization and can confuse DSLR autofocus.

Here’s the filter that photographers recommend that I’ll be purchasing in the near future…

Polarizing gels rated for use with high heat lamps…

I’m at least 2 months from completing my next piece, and still have to purchase the filters, lamps and a color-checker. Although I’m very confident that these components will yield excellent results, I’ll post the process and samples ASAP.


Thank you so much for the overview and links Slade! This is incredibly valuable. :heart:

I’ve used the Epson Perfection as well as the Canon Pixma for scanning. The Pixma tends to have a little digital noise that I find irritating to contend with that I don’t remember with the Perfection. I also scan and stitch together larger works but I never, ever use the software for it. I assemble in manually in Photoshop as there needs to be corrections made for distortions that occur (most prominently near the gutter.)

The biggest issue with scanning for most is found with how the perpendicular light can alter the appearance of the painting surface. Many clean gradations can suddenly appear broken, sheen disparities can appear to skyrocket, and surface anomalies that may have been hidden by the raking light from the easel are now front and center. As such, I try to do both for each piece—photograph AND scan. Far more often I go with the scan–but indeed there have been times when the camera captured the general appearance of the piece with far more fidelity.


Thanks Anthony!

I agree about the scan-n-stitch software - it’s horrible! Although the Epson Perfection produces nice scans, my main issue with it is that the glass and casing are not flush. It’s recessed about 1/8", so when a painting is larger than the glass bed it doesn’t lay flush and final scan is very slightly distorted with uneven lighting. This can be fixed in photoshop but it takes a while and the final product is still a bit wonky, but I’m sure that I’m the only person who would ever notice.

I was unable to find a single definitive resource for photographing 2D artwork with high enough quality for reproduction, so I’ve decided to tackle it myself. I spoke with photographers, read countless web-articles and watched lots of videos. Either the information was outdated/obsolete, incomplete, substandard or it was professional photographer grade that would cost thou$ands and would be overkill for a professional painter’s purposes.

Because researching this was such a pain, I feel almost obligated to compile all of the info that I’ve learned in one place as a resource for artists trying to figure this out. Once I’ve acquired all of the gear and tested it, I’ll start a thread detailing the gear, comparable alternatives, software, and processes.


That would be amazing Slade!!! :smiley: :smiley:

I’ll look forward to it.

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To reproduce my paintings, I use 2 construction halogen lamps (300 W). In front of those, I’ve placed linear polarizing filters at a distance of 40 cm. My camera is a canon 6D with a 100 mm macro lens, or a Fuji xt with 60 mm macrolens with a circulair polarizing filter in front of the lens.
I shoot in raw and develop in Photoshop.
The set up for the lights may be cheap and obsolete, but it works perfect. No glare or whatsoever (my paintings have a glossy varnish and are approx 60x90 cm, smaller or larger).
For viewing and color corrections if needed after shooting, I use Norm studiolight 5000°K.
My computer is also callibrated at 5000°K. This way I see the colors of the painting correctly on the screen if I need to tweak colors.
For very large reproductions, I make 3 photos and stitch them in Photoshop. That results in files of more than 50Mb. But mostly one 16-20 Mb shot is large enough.

I don’t use soft boxes for shooting my paintings because I prefer the direct light which is more crispy (detail).


Thanks Mark!

Construction halogens - genius! I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t work and you can always upgrade to color accurate bulbs if needed. I guess if you were a full-time studio photographer, pro lighting is easier to maneuver and would appear more professional to clients and models, but I’m sure construction lights would be great for shooting artwork every now and then. After doing a little online shopping, it looks like they’re a fraction of the price of dedicated photography halogens. Thanks for the tips!!!

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Great tips Mark!!! Thank you!!!

Thanks. My studio is about 4 meters large and the halogens with linear polarizing filters are fixed to both of my walls. I’ve put an easel in the middle of another wall, what makes it easier to shoot a painting or a sketch.

This is my set up: