Flatlay Tips + Art Sale

Hey everyone! Rounding up a quick post because it’s the last weekend of April. That’s how fast time flies now? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I was not informed. Huhu. ๐Ÿ™ Anyway!

ABCs Book Challenge Update

Many thanks to everyone who’s been onboard for the ABCs Book Challenge. You all are doing great! Check back on Monday for a new challenge (and I promise we will be back to alphabets!). So, as promised and requested by most of you, I’ll be sharing some tipsย on the other aspect of the challenge – taking pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

Flatlay Tips for Artworks

Being a blogger for more than 6 years now has trained my standards on photography.ย And you might ask – what’s so important about taking pictures of artworks? Let the art speak for itself. WRONG. I really believe that photos are the gateway for viewers to see your art (especially if it’s hand-drawn) in a very visually aesthetic way – so yes, photography is important.

And the best part is, you don’t need the best gadgets to make it work. I only use my smartphone; and I’ve yet to get a mirrorless camera soon. The truth is, it really is about how you see it, and how your eye for photography works. So here are 5 tips to remember while taking pictures of your own artworks – mastered (lol) over years and years of constantly chasing the golden hour, figuring out my “branding” and hunting down the best “props” for my “shoots” at my “photo studio” (it’s just a flat table. LOL). ๐Ÿ™‚

1 Go where the (natural) light is

Call it clichรฉ, but true: natural light is always best. I shoot almost always at around either 10AM (almost noon) or 2-3PM (before sundown). Light becomes darker at around 5PM, so be wary of your time. If you’re working, you can shoot as early as 7 or 8 (lol I used to shoot every day when I worked in corporate, at 8AM). To give you an idea, it takes around 15-30 minutes for me to produce a good shot.

Note: I’m basing this off Philippine time because it’s where I live, and the sunrise here is pretty early. ๐Ÿ™‚

With regards to lighting, try to shoot near a window. Or outside your house. Unless you want dramatic lighting (e.g. shadows), shooting in a well-lit area is important to make sure the vibrancy of your artwork is seen in the photo. Speaking of dramatic lighting, use a makeshift reflector to reduce shadows. I use a blank A4 sketch pad to attract light (an example can be found on the photo below – left) and keep my work away from too much shadows.

Choose the right props & surface for your artwork

The easiest props can be art materials, for obvious reasons. Another tip: try to use paint or palettes that are similar to the color in your artworks. It helps create the tone for your overall photo. Other props can be clips, ephemera, postcards, plants, and other themed objects that can be injected in your work (e.g. if it’s travel-themed, you can add tickets, a small globe, etc).

Note: This is such an OC tip, but, some papers don’t have the same color (cream, ivory, or white). Please make sure the papers in your photo have the same color. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for surfaces – I have a few tiles here (you can get some at the home depot) and wood surfaces, as well as patterned paper that I use so I rotate. If you like to keep it white, get a big illustration board. Only because I don’t want to use the same surface over and over (I’m obviously not a creature of habit, lol). If you have a nicely lit table, go with that as well. You can also use dark surfaces to help bring out your artwork more.

Note: Please, don’t use your floor. I know a floor when I see one – you can always use other surfaces like your table. You are excused if your floor doesn’t look like a floor. ๐Ÿ™‚

Focus on the subject – then add as you go along

There are two ways of taking photos of artworks – either just the artwork itself (close-up: very effortless and less time-consuming), or the artwork with surrounding materials (full frame: takes longer to set up but looks more of a shot than just “art”). I tend to do full frame because I keep my Instagram account a photo-based one; rather than just dumping all my art there. But remember, focus on the subject. The artwork should take up around 70% of the whole photo. This is important to note because we want the artwork to be the central point of the photo, not your new set of brush pens or a very bold background. Heh. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take as much pictures as you can.

Fun fact: that set-up above was in Intramuros. LOL desperate times.

Anyway, I take as much photos as I can to make sure I get the right shot. Check out a few samples below.


Ok, so usually it’s more than what you see here. I take around 20-25 safety shots and rotate my angle (left, center, right). My flatlay is always described as a “creative mess” so if you notice with most of my photos, I never keep it straight and center (but that’s just me). We all have our own preferences so whichever your instinct tells you…go with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Warning: There might be instances where you might have to bend extensively or stand on chairs to take a proper flatlay shot.

This is totally normal. Just…don’t do it too much in public. ๐Ÿ™‚


Minimal editing is always best

Ok, lastly, let’s go to editing. Once you’ve chosen your shot, here’s a tip: don’t edit it too much, especially if lighting looks okay.

I edit using VSCO (Visual Supply Co) only because 1) My grid is organized inside my app; 2) I have specific filters that I use for my photos (they are always muted and film-like) and 3) I’ve gotten used to editing with this app. My filters are A6, A7 or E5 then I edit the brightness and contrast, as well as saturation (-1 hehe). For lettering or detailed work, add sharpen to your editing. Keeps things clearer. And then when I upload on Instagram, I do more minimal editing if I need to.

So, that’s basically it! I hope this helped in one way or another with your future posts about my challenge. If you have more tips, feel free to comment and share in this post!

See you at our Art Sale!

On another note, we hope to see you next Friday at our Art Sale in QC!



EVERYTHING MUST GO! was the motivation behind this collaborative art sale between me, Tippy & Alessa. We love art supplies, we love our books and magazines…but a lot are starting to catch dust in our respective workspaces. I’ve been itching to sell the extra papers I have here (mostly purchased from travels), as well as extra travel ephemera (like postcards, notebooks, etc) I got from my trips last year. What better way to sell them than at an art-themed garage sale? ๐Ÿ™‚

Processed with VSCO with a7 preset

Above are some of the stuff I’ll be selling – some brand new, some pre-loved. Art materials (brushes, markers, pens, paints), old books at discounted prices, and selected bundles of magazines. These will all be discounted to P100, P300 and P500 prices so it’s definitely a big bargain!

We’ll also sell some of our own merch at the art sale. Aside from that, we artists will be there (get to bond with us ~resident salesladies~ for the day) for the whole event (4-8PM) at Merkanto, a food hub, located at 38 Mayaman Street, QC. Hope you can drop by! See you there! ๐Ÿ™‚

To end this post, I hope you have a great May ahead. Hopefully the heat dies down soon too. Lolz.

Best, Abbey

  • Thanks for the tips! I just use magazines or my bedsheet because I don’t have a nice space to photograph things, and I also don’t have the space to store anything in the school But when I get back, I’m getting tiles. Where exactly do you get them, though? (Clueless when it comes to shopping for anything besides books and pens) For now, I’ll stick with the vintage-themed stickers I got and my supplies, and I’ll try to find a place that is not the floor because that was what I used for my first challenge background. Oops

    • abbey

      Hey Shannelle, you can get it at the local home depot. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Nurul

    Such a helpful post, Abbey! Especially the makeshift reflector part – I didn’t know that it affects the whole look. TQ for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • abbey

      Surely! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lots of know-hows shared in this post, i love it! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1, I’ve always wondered about the surface of your flatlays. I thought you frequently shoot on location because “there’s no way Abbey has a lot of wooden tables and grass and what-have-you’s in her home!” Well, it’s great to finally know the tricks behind it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. That make-shift reflector is my favorite takeway!

    3. Gotta laugh at “I know a floor when I see one” hahaha! Okay, i literally laughed again! ๐Ÿ˜€

    4. Kinda funny as well that the venue of the Art Sale is on “Mayaman Street” LOL! I feel so sad that I can’t come because work… GRRRR i hate adulting sometimes haha.

    So anyway, great post as always! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    • abbey


      1. I just don’t like taking pictures in just one surface. Usually swerte pag may wood surface where I’m in, or when I travel, I look for really nice cafes or parks. haha #priorities

      2. Yes!! I got it from Tippy ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. Hahaha

      4. Irony lang yan lolz. Hope to see you at future events!

  • Hi Abbey! Thanks for this post, really find it helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aside from your art, I also admire your shots and tbh, I often visit your IG for inspiration since parehas tayong OC pero malala ata pagka-OC ko. Huhu I actually revamp from time to time pag feeling ko di maganda shots ko. TT-TT I prefer those shots na straight lang pero pag minsan nakaslant yung pen or basta hindi symmetric, kahit napost ko na, dinidelete ko din after ilang days. But this time, I’ll take your tips and hopefully mag-increase na IG posts ko. Haha! Also, I’ll try to rotate angle when taking pictures. Wish me luck! :’>

    • abbey

      Hi Elaine! You’re welcome ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually I have a practice grid on VSCO so I know how it looks like (the feed mismo) before I post it. Maybe you can try that? It helps me a lot. Haha. Sure! Good luck and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Tried doing flatlay and hoorayy I did it! But not as good as yours yet. Hehezz~ ๐Ÿ˜› Very urgent yung “photoshoot” kaya dun ko na lang kinunan sa table na gamit ng kapatid ko where his bond papers are scattered tapos konting art props and poof! Mejj nakakahiya kasi very obvious yung pagpipicture ko. Haha! ๐Ÿ˜€ I had to do it “The Abbey Sy Style” at may pagbebend pa akong ginagawa kanina. AHAHAAHAHAHA. Yay, Thanks a lot Abbey! โ™ฅ PS. Happy Mother’s Day to Mommy Sy! โ™ฅ

        • abbey

          Hahaha. Thanks Elaine! Good job! ๐Ÿ™‚ Practice practice!

  • Woaah this post is a great help for me, as I always have a hard time in doing flatlay shots. Woah thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ P.S. the floor though ahaha

    • abbey

      Yay glad to be of help! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahaha. Yeah, try to omit the floor or use another surface ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Christian

    I use the foodie app for flat lays. Though the focus is kinda problematic, the feature where it will turn yellow when you’re perfectly aligned to the surface is amazing!! The filters are awesome too.

    • abbey

      What’s the name of the app? I’ve heard about it from a lot of people but haven’t tried it yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kathreen S. Laderas

    OMG! I just noticed this ate Abbey. it helps me a lot ate. Yay! Now i know the answer of my problems. Hahaha. Lagi ko po kasi problema to kapag pipicturan ko na yung output ko ate. Thank You so much for the tips ate. โค You inspired me more. God bless po.

    • abbey

      Hahaha. Sure! Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Adora

    Oh. Really helpful post for the struggling me. Hehe. But really, I’m curious about the tiles. What kind are those? The tiles tiles used for floors/wall?

    • abbey

      Yup for floors I think. That’s why it’s pretty heavy. Heh.