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13.02 Documentation of 2D Artwork

Use a Camera NOT your Cell Phone

CIA students can check out a DSLR or Mirrorless digital camera from the Checkout at CIA. You can also checkout lights. If lights are unavailable, taking photos outdoors in daylight is a good alternative. DO NOT take indoor photographs with poor light, a single light source, or with the flash from your cell phone.

Your cell phone may take ok pictures outdoors in the sunshine but that is about the only time. You are unable to change the depth of field with a cell phone camera. Use the good cameras available to you for free from the checkout at CIA.

What Camera and Lights Should I Checkout?

On the CIA Equipment Checkout Pageexternal link choose one of the SONY A6100 mirrorless camerasexternal link , a Compact Fluorescent Cool Light Kitsexternal link , and a Basic Tripodexternal link .

Photograph with Cellphone?

Your pictures will be worse with if you use a cellphone rather than a good camera, period. But if that is all you have, a cell phone is better than nothing and with a little bit of effort fairly decent photos can be made. You should always get a camera with a bigger sensor and better lens than your cellphone but I know that sometimes time runs short. For those instances, the video below shows how to take ok photographs with just a cell phone and a clip on light. There are no excuses for bad images. Remember to shoot both RAW and JPG when using a camera or your cellphone. Most cellphones can be set to shoot RAW images.


Set up lights and a clean backdrop. You can check out lights and a camera from the equipment checkout. You can also take your model to the think[box] and use the soft boxes and flashes already set up.

Use at least two light sources spaced apart from the object pointed in at 45 degrees. This will create relatively even lighting and show the structure of your piece. Having a single light from the camera or behind the camera will not look good. If using one light, put the light above the object and use a reflector to bounce light into the shadows.

If you do not have two lights, then you can take your photos outdoors. The sun is a great light source. A cloudy day can be used to get soft shadows.

Have a Clean, Distraction Free Background

  • The background should not distract from your project. It is best to shoot in front of a photo sweep. Good photos can be made in front of walls or out in the open. The key is not having a busy background.
  • Use a shallow depth of field on the camera. Open the aperture wide and focus on your object. The background will then be blurry and your object will stand out.
  • If you are outdoors, a brick or concrete wall can work well.
  • Don’t have your object too close to any walls either indoors or outdoors.

Shoot RAW and JPG

Shoot in JPG and RAW and post process the images. All photos can be improved through post production. Make sure you adjust the levels of your photos to bring out all the detail and dynamic range for bright whites and dark blacks. White balance should be correctedexternal link so the colors look good. Use Photoshop and Adobe Camera Rawexternal link to make adjustments and to retouch any mistakes in the images.

Photography Documentation Resources

Tutorial Videos

Document Art with Cellphone

Open Any Image in Camera Raw

Quick White Balance in Photoshop

Camera Raw Tutorial