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IAC > For Applicants > Resources > Tips for Artistic Documentation Tips for Artistic Documentation

Digital Images

It is essential that the digital images of your artwork are of the highest professional quality. The standards that apply to traditional slide documentation also apply to the digital slide format.

Image Specifications for Cultural Grants Online (CGO) - Indiana's Online Grant System

To submit an application through CGO, please format/size your images as follows:


1920 pixels x 1920 pixels

File Format:

Baseline JPEG (Do not use progressive JPEG format)


Please size your image so the final compressed file is no more than 1.8 MB in size. On average, your image will be roughly 1.2 MB. Larger is not necessarily better. Please consult a professional vendor to determine if compression for your artwork is needed.

Note: Please do not save your JPEG as a progressive JPEG file. 
Progressive JPEGs will be read by the website, but the large format images used during the jury will not work properly if the files are saved as progressive files


Internet submissions only

File Name:

CGO will automatically rename your files

Please size your image to be 1920 pixels on both edges. If your image is not square, please mask your image with black to bring your image to 1920 x1920 pixels. Note: No other size will be accepted for jury use.

Download a template to lay your images in. Note: File will open in a new window. When image appears, right-click and select "Save Picture As."

For Horizontal Images: 
Format with black horizontal bands on the top and bottom


For Vertical Images:
Format with black vertical bands on the left and right

The Importance of Square-Image Formatting

The CGO team would like to explain why this system requires a 1920 x 1920 pixel square-image format. The reason for the square format is that, unlike slide projectors that can display images in both horizontal and vertical formats, digital projectors, such as those used in the CGO system, can only display images in a horizontal format. ("Horizontal format" means the width of an image is greater than its height.) In order to address the potential size differences between projected horizontal and vertical digital images, the project team believes a squared format is most appropriate. Such an approach ensures that works of art presented for jurying are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged on the basis of the initial proportions of each image presented to a show jury. Please note that squaring an image does not remove any part of the image.

The following are illustrations of the problem created through a horizontal projection pattern and the advantages of squaring images:

Please see Figure 1 below to observe the horizontal proportions of the available image space of a digitally projected image.

Figure 1

If the CGO system were to allow artists to submit images of any height and width within the confines of the standard digital-projector image space, images of horizontal works of art would have more projected space available to them than would vertically composed works of art. As a result, horizontal images would take up more of the available image space, and this could advantage horizontal works in the jurying process. Figure 2 is an example of how a horizontally composed work could use virtually all of the available digital-projector display space.

Figure 2

Figure 3 illustrates how a vertical image would be disadvantaged in this system without application of the squaring process. The art works displayed in Figure 2 and Figure 3 have the same dimensions as the original works of art, however, without squaring, they are vastly different in size when projected

Figure 3

Squaring images removes the space advantage that horizontally formatted art works receive in this system. Figure 4 represents the squared projected image of a horizontal work of art, and Figure 5 represents the squared projected image of a vertical work of art. Each figure is placed on a field of the projectable image space that has been reduced to a squared field with dimensions of 1920 by 1920 pixels. In addition, each image has been masked in black to eliminate any white space that could surround a projected image. The black masking also allows the image to pop out, as the black fades into the dark background during projection. The result is a fair and scaled representation of all projected images.

Figure 4

Figure 5


Use a good 4 or 5 megapixel digital camera. Do not use a camera below 3.2 megapixels. Always use a tripod to steady your shot. If you choose to take your picture on film and digitize from a negative you need to use good color film like Fuji Provia 100F (also called RDP-III) or Kodak Ektachrome 100 Professional or Kodak Elite Chrome 10.

Film and Lighting

Lighting affects films at varying degrees. You may use a daylight film or tungsten film depending on the lighting scheme of your photograph.

Daylight films are color balanced to daylight and electronic flash light. Daylight film is commonly available at any supermarket or photography shop.

Tungsten films require lighting from incandescent (or tungsten) light sources and are harder to find. They are not available in a 35mm negative and can be found in specialty photography stores rather than at your local supermarket. The packaging for tungsten film is differentiated from daylight films by a T after the film speed, i.e. 64T.

Remember that if you are using daylight film you should eliminate other light sources, such as incandescent lights or fluorescent lights. These other light sources may "contaminate" the illumination. In the same respect when using tungsten film, you should not let other light sources like daylight or fluorescent light 'contaminate' the illumination.

Preparing Images for Uploading

Following are generic instructions for reducing the resolution (making the picture smaller) in a number of photo-editing programs. The steps may vary slightly depending on the program.

  1. Open the image in a photo-editing program
  2. Open the Image Size or Resize dialog box, which is usually located in one of the toolbar menus
  3. For pictures to be viewed on screen, set the resolution to 72 ppi or dpi
  4. Mask your image with a 1920 pixel x 1920 pixel canvas
  5. Click "OK"
  6. Click "Save As"
  7. Rename the picture
  8. Save it in the JPEG format
  9. This preserves the original TIFF file (raw image) for future use

Photoshop Tips

WESTAF experimented with Photoshop to develop these image sizing steps. Please note that these instructions are one way to process your image through Photoshop. We advise that artists experiment with their own photo imaging software to develop the best process in sizing their images.

  1. Download your image from your digital camera to a file on your personal computer. You must use an image that has at least one side larger than 1920 pixels. A 4 MB or larger image is ideal
  2. Save your original image in RAW/TIFF format
  3. Open Photoshop
  4. Go to File and open your image
  5. Go to Image, Image Size:
    1. Make sure you are looking at your image size in pixels
    2. Make sure that Constrain Proportions is checked
  1. Take the longest side and size it down to 1920.
    1. The shorter side will shrink down in proportion
  1. Go to Color Picker (The overlapping color boxes at the bottom of the main toolbar)
    1. Make sure the background color is black
  1. Go to Image, Canvas Size:
    1. Make sure you are looking at your canvas in pixels
    2. Size the shortest side to 1920
    3. Make sure you are anchored in the center
    4. If your color picker is set, the canvas background will automatically be black

      If you do not have your color picker set prior to increasing your canvas size, you will need to:
    5. Click on Color picker
    6. Make sure that the background and foreground color is black
    7. Select your paint bucket
    8. Click on the white area
    9. This should only color the white with black
  1. Save your image for the Web:
    1. Go to File, Save for Web 
    2. Make sure your settings are for JPEG
    3. Name your image
  1. Check Properties:
    1. Right click (on a two button mouse) on the image icon
    2. Check image size
    3. If your image file size is LARGER than 1.8 MB, then repeat step 9 using the original image you generated and increase compression (From High to Medium or Low) in the Save menu. Then repeat step 10

Click here for more Photoshop Tips from professional photographer Larry Berman.

Tips on Taking Digital Images

Taking a digital photograph instead of scanning a hard copy photograph or slide to digital format will yield the best results. Use at least a 3.2 megapixels camera. For best results we advise using a 4 or 5 megapixel camera. Use a camera that will allow you to save the image in a lossless format such as TIFF or RAW. This will give you the best opportunity to resize your image without losing detail. Once you resize your RAW file, you will need to convert that file into a JPEG. The JPEG format will allow that file to be uploaded into a Web application like CGO. Try to use a first generation JPEG if possible. If your digital camera only captures images in the JPEG format, do not resize the JPEG--convert it to a TIFF before doing any resizing. This way, you will keep the maximum detail possible.

Set your white balance on your camera against a neutral white source to give you a "pure" white color. Follow the instructions that came with your camera to set your white balance correctly.

Slide Conversion

Traditional slides can be scanned and converted to digital format at most full service photo labs. It is better to have the original slide scanned because the color and detail has not been diminished from duplication.

Most photo labs offer picture CD's that come with basic photo editing software(KODAK Picture CD) that saves images as JPEGs.

You can also purchase a 35 mm scanner designed for scanning slides and digitize the image on your home computer.

Digital Imaging Resources

Hiring a professional photographer with photo editing software knowledge costs more but yields the best results.

Visit the Web sites below to see examples of professional vendors:

Digital Imaging Software

  • Jasc Paint Shop Pro
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Publisher with digital imaging

Basic Photographing Tips

  • Photograph 2-D artwork unframed to avoid glare.
  • Photograph 3-D artwork with proper lighting techniques.
  • Use a neutral background to photograph any artwork.
  • Avoid background colors that distract from the work. Avoid harsh shadows.
  • Photographing indoors works the best.
  • The best way to take pictures inside is to block out all other sources of light (overhead lighting, sunlight, etc.) and use two 250-500 watt (3200K) tungsten bulb floodlights. These are inexpensive and worth the cost. They may also be rented. By placing one light on each side at a 45 degree angle to your piece, you should be able to obtain good results.
  • If you photograph your work in natural lighting, take your photograph on a clear day in the shade or in the shadow side of a building. This will eliminate possible glare.
  • Aim for true color representation and proper exposure.
  • Isolating the artwork within the camera frame is the most desirable and effective means of presentation. Move in close enough with your camera to let each piece occupy as much of the view finder as possible.
  • Do not crop out any of the work.
  • Do not float the object in too much blank space, although this can be digitally corrected.
  • Remember, your digital images will have to represent your originals. You cannot be expected to be an expert photographer the first time you pick up a camera. A little practice along with some helpful advice from a camera-shop owner or a knowledgeable, competent photographer may be all you need to produce excellent results.

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