Digital Submission Tips

Entering Artwork through Slideroom

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JPEG Tips for Artists

Take a good photograph
You don’t necessarily need a professional digital camera. Today’s point-and-shoot cameras are usually just fine. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use a tripod. It not only ensures a steady shot, it forces you to carefully compose your picture and make sure it’s perfect before you squeeze the shutter.
  • Make sure your corners are squared-off and that you are photographing your artwork straight-on. Failure to do so creates “keystoning” that is particularly noticeable on computer monitors.
  • Do NOT shoot your 2D artwork through glass or plexi. Take it out of the frame, if necessary, to avoid reflections and glare.
  • Photograph your artwork using even light that doesn’t have harsh shadows. Working outdoors in open shade or during a cloudy day often produces excellent results. Unless you’re really sure you know what you’re doing, turn your flash off.
  • If you know how to set your camera’s white balance, please do so.
  • Avoid distracting or brightly colored backgrounds. Remember, it’s about the art.

Edit your photograph

Digital photographs are a lot like film negatives. They’re the starting point rather than the finished, polished images that will impress jurors. Always make a copy of your original digital file and work on the copy (not the original).

  • Use an editing program like Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to make basic corrections to brightness, contrast and color. Entire books have been written on these topics so don’t feel like you need to know how to do everything. Just do what you are comfortable doing and take pleasure in the knowledge that there’s always something new to learn later.
  • Resolution is critical and should be set to 300 pixels per inch, if your software allows the setting to be adjusted.
  • If you are comfortable with sharpening, please do, but do so with subtlety.

Save your photograph

  • Keep your original file safe and separate from the version you’ve just edited. Back-ups are a good idea, too.
  • Save your edited and sized photograph using the JPEG format. At some point you should be able to indicate what level of quality you would like the image saved as. Pick the highest quality possible.
  • When saving your file, please keep the filename short and descriptive. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. I usually like to include my name in the filename. This is useful in both the likely event that files get moved around during the selection process and the unlikely event that someone wants to write me a check for the competition.
  2. When naming the file, use only letters, numbers, dashes (“-“) and underscores (“_”). Special characters (e.g. !@#$%^&*()][{}|/”‘?><,./~) can wreak havoc when used in filenames.
  3. Always make sure your filename includes the JPEG file extension “.jpg” or “.jpeg” at the end of the filename. This tells the computer what kind of file it’s opening and is perhaps the most common cause of the dreaded “could not open file” error we all hate to see.
  4. What’s a well-named file look like? This is pretty typical for me: Andrew_Child_01.jpg