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Photos of Pencil Drawings

4 Jun 2009 1:42PM
My sister is a pencil artist and creates very large artworks (A0 size and larger) which she would like to be able to make prints of. Scanning such images costs a fortune and involves an incredibly long round trip to the nearest company to where she lives that can scan things of this size. Therefore she has asked me to photograph them.

There are a number of technical things that we need to resolve like making sure the picture and camera are perfectly aligned etc but the biggest problem is light.

As her pictures are all done in pencil the graphite on the paper reflects light very easily and so direct flash is totally out of the window. Equally bounced flash just causes shadows, therefore I was wondering if something like the Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe might be a good solution. At 60cm x 60cm I would think that this would cast a large enough area of light to evenly light the drawings and being diffused you wouldn't get reflections from the graphite.

Budget and kit wise we are limited and so just want to make as good a job as we can.

Kit wise I have:

Canon 30D
Sigma 10-20
Sigma 24-70
Canon 70-200
Sigma Speedlite
Couple of reflectors

I was thinking of using the 24-70 as this has little distortion but the reflectors on their own I don't think will be enough.

Do people think the softbox option will work or is there a better option?

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Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
4 Jun 2009 1:45PM
you could use a lightbox/tent setup. Combine that with a tripod and you could use some normal lamps and a longer exposure to get a white shot. Or you can use the flash for a shorter shot.
Also make sure there is a good solid white background for the paper so that looks solid and not seethrough
fauxtography 13 6.6k 36
4 Jun 2009 1:49PM
Extremely low light is your friend in this situation. I've shot artwork in low light, and just used a long exposure. Low light tends to be less directional and harsh so less reflections on the surface.
mad-dogs 15 2.2k England
4 Jun 2009 2:08PM
Light each side at 45 - check out copy stands on google
4 Jun 2009 2:50PM
Cheers all for your replies. Unfortunately I don't think a copy stand is going to be right for this project as the largest I can find is half the size we need and costs nearly 800! Eek!!

I'm interested in the low light option, I hadn't considered that and in today's economic state I could do without forking out 100+, but wouldn't such a setup be highly susceptible to varying light levels over the drawing, in other words you would have to be able to get an even level of low light over the entire drawing and that might be harder to achieve than an even level of bright light?

My thinking with the softbox is that you would remove this problem by using enough light to remove any shadows even if the natural light in the room wasn't entirely even.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
4 Jun 2009 2:57PM
The idea of the lighttent/box is that is it like a softbox that lets you use a long exposure without having ambient light problems - the light comming in all goes through the white paper so colourcasts are not much of a problem here -
you will need a larger box but the method is the same
stevenb Plus
14 265 6 England
4 Jun 2009 9:45PM
The way I would try is
Use a Conservatory on a bright but overcast day ( no direct sunlight ) Use Black mounting board bluetac to the glass window them blue tac the pencil skecth to the black mounting board this should stop light coming through the sketch from the rear.
Camera on tripod f8 & use cable relese.
This is a method some people use to process digital prints to E6 slides.
Should work and could save you alot of money.
Hope it helps .

User_Removed 9 1.4k England
4 Jun 2009 9:51PM
If you cant get a scanner; think like a scanner.

I would mount the paper on some kind of board; and then just sequentially take frames of a small piece of the artwork at a time...Moving the board around in respect to the camera.

- Then stitch the resultant images together.... This way all frames will be from the same angle/distance but the X,Y will have changed... You will then have say ~10 shots to stitch together into a single well lit seamless photograph Smile.

This will give you easy control of lighting as you are only dealing with a small segment of the artwork at a time (say a 30x20cm segment); and you will end up with a higher resolution image (about 40MP) which will be very handy for perfect perfect prints Smile. Rather than trying to light the whole thing and then squeeze the detail into 8MP.
mad-dogs 15 2.2k England
5 Jun 2009 11:19AM
I posted the link to the copystands to show you the lighting setup rather than expect you to buy one as it would probably not be worth your investment unless your sisters artwork was in great demand and would finance one.

You need to light from each side @ 45 and preferably have a dark room. Using a light tent will put a lot of light in areas which will reflect from the pencil lead surface.

To set up lighting, you can place a pencil standing upright on a baseboard and adjust the lights until there is virtually no shadow on either side of the pencil. However, for A0, you may need to hand the artwork on a wall.
You can put black reflectors around the camera area as this will reflect black off the pencil lead surface ( or not reflect white! ).

You might wish to draw a grid on a blank sheet of A0 and use this image to correct lens distortion and use those settings on the artwork copied using the same lens settings.

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