best images for Decopaw art

I frequently get the same questions from Decopaw art clients who live out of state or out of town and need to use their own images for the art process:

“what are your (pre-existing) image requirements?”

“what kinds of shots are good to use for the art?”

“what should I be looking for when I go through the images of my beloved pet who has passed?”

“I am going to take some pictures of my dog/cat to send to you. Can you give me some direction?”

Instead of typing out the answer every time in my emails I have decided to post that information here so I can refer back to it as a link. Gotta love blogging!

The things I look for in good images to use for the art process are, in order of importance:

1. shots taken in outdoor light.

If it’s bright and sunny out a semi-shady area is best (the side of the house, etc) so as to avoid bright highlights and dark shadows. Note- don’t go too shady because then the shots will be too dark. If you are in a place that has them, overcast days are the best for getting great shots.

2. no flash used (no glowing eyes).

Flash has the biggest negative impact on the quality of the finished piece. If at all possible, don’t pick images where flash was used.

3. good detail and lighting in the eyes and face. Both eyes visible.

The eyes are the most important part of the Decopaw art, so the clearer they are the better. If you can discern the eye color easily and see the details in the eye- great! That’s what I am looking for.

4. clear and in-focus. I can fix minor focus issues but truly blurry photos will produce blurry art.

5. the pet filling the frame as opposed to a small part of the picture.

Bust shots are good. Be wary of strange angles like shots taken standing above the animal looking down on them. This affects what I can do with the art. Shots taken on the pet’s level are the very best. A shot like this would make a great art piece.

6. Lastly- a good expression of the animal’s personality.

Does it look like them? Does it make you giggle or tug at your heartstrings? In 20 years will it really remind you of the soul of your animal?


file sizes at or above 1MB, unmodified and uncropped.

Don’t crop or change the size or dpi of the image. Ideally I want it straight out of the camera (or off the memory card), which is always a dpi of 72, unless the images were modified during the upload (be careful of that!).

The best way is to insert your memory card into the reader, or plug in your cable, and open the folder holding the images and manually drag and drop instead of using software for the transfer. If it does it automatically you’ll need to read the help to figure out how to shut it off. I have had lots of image issues that were created by automatic adjustments done by the camera software on the computer upon downloading the images from the card.

Image resolution needs to be a MINIMUM 1680×2240 or larger (1MB or larger file size at 72 dpi). Files that are less than 1MB in size (i.e. 500k or 750 k or something) usually won’t work for the art process.

IDEAL resolution is 2048×1536 or higher.

A 6 megapixel camera set on it’s highest setting (L, Fine), will produce shots that will be great to use.

Essentially the larger the file size the better the art will be and the happier you will be with the results.

If you are taking photos yourself:

You will want to set the resolution on your camera to its highest setting (Large or L on most cameras), and highest (fine) quality. If you are unsure of how to find this in your menu I can walk you through it if I know what kind of camera you have.

Take as many pictures that you can, because you can always delete the bad ones. Meaning, take 20-30 shots, not 5.

Take the shots on your pet’s level. Use treats or make noises to get them to look at the camera. Don’t call their name as they’ll come to you. Don’t push them into a sit position as they’ll just look sad in the shots. Spend about 10 minutes relaxing and taking pictures of them. You’ll get at least one shot that will be great for the art process.

Don’t have a digital camera or don’t feel like dealing with the hassle?

These days it’s not hard to find a friend or relative or colleague who has a fancy new digital camera, and most people love to try out their new toy. Offer to bake brownies or give them a margarita and I’m sure they’d be happy to come over and shoot your pooch or kitty.

Just send an email out to your friends and I’ll bet you get some takers.

You may be able to find a professional to give you a discount on their session fee if they know you are needing just a couple of handfuls of images for an art process. I myself offer 25% off my sitting fee to Decopaw Art clients. If you’d like to book a shoot just let me know!

Film prints:

I absolutely do use film prints and have a fantastic Canon scanner that I use to scan them in.

There are two options with film prints.

You can either mail them to me at the mailing address on my website:

Note: although it is best to always send duplicates, I do return film prints with the final art piece, and house them in a fire-proof safe during the process, so those babies are safe and sound with me!

Scanning film prints:

Or if you have a high-quality scanner you can scan them in yourself and send them to me as a digital file.

If scanning- set your PPI (or DPI) at at least 300, preferrably 600, and scan at the original size, whatever that may be. Don’t increase the size (i.e. scan a 4×6 as an 8×10 document). The most important part for me is the DPI.

If your image has dust and other issues, and your scanner has the ability to fix those issues (backlight correction, dust removal, sharpening), go ahead and use them to produce a better looking result, but don’t make the final image unrecognizable from the original!

emailing images to me:

You can email digital images to me up to 10 megabytes in total combined file sizes. Ideally I like to see 6-8 different images and then we can pick the best two.

If you have any questions about any of the above, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to walk you through it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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