Copying Flat Artwork

…is easy isn’t it…

You just point the camera at your painting and it does the rest… does it matter that the image isn’t quite straight??

Lighting – the flash on the camera will give you a bright centre, (maybe with a very bright reflection), with the edges trailing off into shadow.  You could choose to use daylight, but do you use a sunny day – morning or noon or afternoon… a day with high cloud… the north side of a building… what time of year…?  Each of these options will affect the colours of and in your copy.

Focusing - The common lens focuses on any given distance from the lens to the subject, in an arc at which the lens is the centre, because of this, parts of the artwork tend to be less sharp than other parts, as the centre of your painting is nearer to the lens than the edges are.


For best results, the camera should be exactly perpendicular to the artwork, but not too close or the wide-angle lens will give you curved edges.  The image should, as far as is possible, fill the frame for the highest definition.

Lighting must be even across the whole of the piece – at least two lights of equal power and colour set at opposite sides and equal distance from the artwork, positioned so there is no reflection from smooth and shiny areas on the painting.

For some subjects, the use of a polarizing filter is required, and this can bring its own variations to the mix.

Colour balance - Some light sources can cause problems with watercolours (and sometimes with pastels), where the paper has been left blank, (clouds or wave crests), or has been subject to a thin coat or wash, with those areas displaying a pale blue or eggshell colour. This is because the image sensor in the camera, (as previously with film), is more sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum than the human eye is.

My lighting set up is year-round consistent and specifically designed to avoid these issues.

Focusing – I have what is called a Flat Field Lens which is specially designed for flat artwork, with no compromise on focus and no distortion due to curved edges.

Every piece of artwork that comes through here is given individual treatment, examined, cropped, and colour checked.  If you wish for a colour patch to be included for really critical work, I can include that too.

Things to bear in mind:

  • Some artists occasionally use fluorescent pigments, which may not accurately reproduce in print, as inks commonly, have no fluorescent properties.
  • Copies are by definition, just that – copies, and although compromises in accurate colour matching are to some extent inevitable, we do our utmost to match as close to the original as possible.
  • Computer monitors differ in the way they are set up, and yours most likely will not match mine or the set up of others.
  • Printed output seldom matches the image on a computer screen.
  • The viewing conditions will affect any colour assessment, whether on screen or in print, (as with choosing fabrics - you take them to the window to check the colours in daylight).
  • The set ups of different printing companies will differ, and expecting one company’s work to simply match that of another is wishful thinking.

Photography of Artwork gallery

Click a photo to enlarge