November 9, 2015

Selling Digital Art on Etsy

party notice

Did you know you can sell your art as digital images on Etsy? If you're good a photographing or scanning your artwork then you can do it! I'll start with tips on capturing your images, then move on to uploading and other Etsy info.

Get 40 free listings when you open a new Etsy shop! ($8 value)

Scanning Tips

Start by scanning your piece at high resolution. 300 dpi is generally sufficient without making the file size too large. You may need to adjust in Photoshop or a similar program, and you can also manipulate the image artistically for added pop, softness, deliberate color shifts, adding text, etc.

A good image will also be dust-free. Clean your scanner plate and touch up any dust spots, zooming in to make sure you get them all.

Metallic/reflective paints are not likely to scan well. They won't show their true beauty, looking rather flat, or they may cause glare and overblown highlights.

Become familiar with the settings in your scanner software. You can make many adjustments that can improve the quality of the scan. Color images should be scanned as 24-bit color, photo (not document), reflective (not film), and turn descreening off unless you are scanning a magazine or newspaper. Unsharp Mask is a confusing name for a way to sharpen your image - just be sure not to overdo it! Set the document size, and ALSO make sure to preview the image and adjust the area that will be scanned, if needed. (If you are scanning several prints, all the same size, and placed in the same location on the scanner platform, you don't need to preview each time, as long as the placement is precise and there is some white space to crop or adjust the tilt. Papers love to move when you let go and put the cover down. And DO put the cover down each time! It helps keep your image flat and can affect exposure if left open.)

Photography Tips

You don't necessarily need an expensive, fancy camera. Try using what you have first, including a point and shoot or the camera in your phone. If you're getting distortion, set to highest quality and move a bit farther away. Crop the unwanted area in post-processing.

Before you start shooting, be sure to check your settings for image size/quality, and color balance. Take some test shots to make sure you're getting it right. Look at them on your computer screen. It's harder to fix images than it is to get them right in the first place. Note that some colors may be harder to capture accurately than others, and most camera brands have some color bias.

A good image will be evenly lit. Use equal strength/color temperature lights on both sides, or a reflector on the side opposite the light source. Indirect sunlight is good, and isn't it hilarious that even though the light has travelled 93 million miles to arrive at our planet, it dims noticeably as it goes a few inches across the page!

Your image needs to be flat when being photographed. If there is sufficient white space around it, you can tape the edges to a flat surface. Be careful when removing the tape so you don't damage your original. You could also use a mounting spray made for artwork, and permanently or temporarily adhere it to a mounting board or other surface.

Metallic paints can be a problem with photos, too. If you take the photo at an angle that shows their beautiful reflection, your artwork is distorted by the perspective. You may be able to adjust the perspective in post-processing (Photoshop, etc.) but be attentive to horizontal/vertical proportions and quality loss. Shooting at a higher quality than what is needed for the final image will give you more leeway to adjust without quality loss.

Obviously, if your artwork is 3D you will need to photograph rather than scan.

Do not use flash.

Do not shoot an image through glass, but if you must, make sure it is scrupulously clean, and use a polarizer filter to minimize or remove reflections - but keep in mind, polarizers do not affect metallic reflections. (Important: Digital cameras need "circular polarizer" filters, which work differently than regular polarizers made for film cameras.) The filter will lower the amount of light entering the lens, so you will need a longer exposure.

If your artwork is reflective (and even if it's not, but more so if it is) be extra attentive to the color of the clothing you are wearing and colors in the surrounding area. White is usually best. And make sure you can't be seen in your artwork, unless that is your intention.

The longer your lens, the longer your exposure will need to be, and the greater likelihood for camera shake blurring your photos. Using a tripod allows longer exposures without camera shake.

On the other hand, a lens with too wide an angle can distort your image. If that's all you have, increase the photo size/quality setting in your camera in excess of what you need, and stand back a bit. You'll get a flatter image and can crop without quality loss. Your camera may have an automatic distortion control setting. Use it if it helps!

Image Formats to Upload

Save in PNG and JPG formats for the downloader's convenience. PNG images are full quality, but some customers will not have the right software to use them. JPG images are lossy, PNG images are not. In other words, PNGs are pixel for pixel accurate representations of what was scanned or photographed. JPGs are compressed images, and some information will be lost. Save JPGs at the highest percentage/quality available.

Uploading Images

Start a new listing, or copy a similar one and make appropriate changes. You can upload up to 5 images in JPG or PNG format. Why 5 images when there are only 2 formats? Well, you can upload images in different sizes, such as 5x7 and 8x10, and set different prices for each.

If selling an unlimited number of an image, you can set the number available to 1, and select auto renew. It will automatically relist when sold, and you will be charged the 20 cent listing/renewal fee each time.

If you are selling a limited edition of an image, set that number and turn off auto renew. The listing will auto renew only until that number is sold, and Etsy will count down for you and display the current number available until all are sold.

You are only required to have image to be shown on Etsy with your listing (those 5 image spaces at the top of the listing are for shopping images, not download images, to give the customer an idea of what you are selling.) However, you can also include up to four additional images that show image details, display examples such as a framed image, or an image being used in a craft. Make it clear in your listing that you are selling a digital image only, that no items will be sent to the buyer, and that display/use suggestions are ideas, not part of the purchase.

Helpful links:

How to Use and Buy Polarizer Filters

Listing a Digital Item - Etsy Guide (official)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Your submission will be considered for inclusion. Thanks!