Learn | Issue No.07

Learn ISSUE No.07 Dedicated to the Bench Artist


Learn ISSUE No.07 Dedicated to the Bench Artist

Welcome to the newest issue of Learn Magazine! It’s been a stretch, but we’re back with a brand new issue full of fresh new stories and a tutorial to share. Read on to see how Maxime Carrière used his passion for the art of fine jewellery to build a thriving business, check out GRSTC instructor Nevada Miller’s Q & A to see if you have what it takes to be a maker (short answer: you do!) and learn how to take better photos of your work using things you already have in your home.


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Q&A with Nevada Miller Be Your Own Maker

A conversation with Maxime Carrière 12 M.C. JEWELLER ORIGINALS



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Q&A with Nevada Miller Be Your Own Maker

Are you an Engraver, Jeweler/Stone Setter, or both? Engraver, Maker, Bezel Stone Setter, and Teacher. How long have you been an Engraver/Jeweler/ Stone Setter? I started engraving in high school and then did a little throughout college, but I didn’t start doing this full-time until 2016. Now I split my time between ranching and making. How did you first become interested in Engraving/Jewelry/Stone Setting? I grew up around the western trades because my father is a saddle, bit, and spur maker. And to be honest I’m not sure why one day I walked in and told my dad I wanted to engrave but I am so happy I did!

I am a big believer in never stopping learning about your trade and business.

How did you learn this set of skills? What training have you pursued?

I credit my dad for being my most influential teacher, but I have had the privilege of taking courses from Diane and Todd at GRS, a few classes from various other teachers, then just A LOT of trial and error throughout the years. I am a big believer in never stopping learning about your trade and business. Please describe your work history/experience since you began metalworking. I made the decision after college to move to the middle of nowhere Oregon and pursue my trade full-time. I created items in my little shop and then would sell them online and work through custom orders at this time. Throughout those two years, I learned a lot about what I do but the real learning came when I got married, moved to the ranch, and had less time in the shop. That leap made me dedicated and focused on increasing productivity and output because I had limited time. Throughout those years I taught workshops and demonstrated for GRS at shows, but last year I launched an online school called Be A Maker School for students to learn the Western Trades from the comfort of their homes. I love getting to teach in person at the GRS Training center; the students always inspire and teach me so much in turn.

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When creating a new piece of work, what process do you go through (sketches, research, etc.)? I start with an image in my mind then draft a rough sketch in pencil. After which I refine the idea and use illustrator to resize and adjust as needed. Once I have the outlines set I head to the shop to begin the fabrication process. Generally engraving is the last step in my process. Where do you go for inspiration? Are there particular artists that inspire you? Oh man I feel like I glean inspiration for a multitude of areas. I love to travel and infuse my work with hints of other cultures. Think geometrics from Moroccan rugs and intricate vine work from cathedrals. I love looking outside the “normal” areas of inspiration, I believe this encourages creativity and challenge.

nevadawatt.com instagram.com/nevadaw/ facebook.com/nevadawattbrand

How do you market and sell your work? I sell all my items on my website and usually attend one show a year in person. I use Instagram and Facebook to market my items. I try to keep it pretty simple by capturing images of my work in my shop or showing aspects of my life in the middle of nowhere.

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Out of everything you have worked on, do you have a favorite project? What is your most memorable project? Why are these your favorite/most memorable? I would probably say my Phases of the Moon Concho Belt I made last year. It was an idea I had rolling around in my brain for years and I loved getting to bring it to fruition. It incorporated all my favorite things, moons, scrolls, stones, and a little sprinkle of weird haha! What are your interests outside of jewelry and engraving? My husband and I ranch with our family and I love the seasonality of that. I am an Ultra Runner, mind you not really a fast one, just someone who loves a challenge. I also dabble in interior design. Does that outside interest inform or influence your creativity in any way? I like to say that running is cheaper than therapy haha! I love to explore the area I get to live in and ranching brings a deep sense of connection and purpose to this land.

https://beamaker.school/ instagram.com/beamakerschool/

You teach at the GRS Training Center and have also created the “Be a Maker School”, an online learning resource. What made you decide to teach? I believe it is a God thing, he keeps me humble because I make LOTS of mistakes so I am able to teach on those issues. But GRS has been the catalyst for that aspect of my work. I began by demonstrating years ago at shows then slowly built up to a week-long class by workshops and one-day classes. I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach because I learn so much each time! I also was so blessed to have some wonderful teachers over the years and if I can be that for someone else that is really important to me.

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You have a niche of creativity within you, so be inspired by others but always try to make items all your own. Learn, try, fail, and smile!

What are your goals/dream projects? For my work I hope to launch curated themed collections a few times a year keeping the items meaningful and unique. For Be A Maker School my ultimate goal is for it to be the place for people to learn any of the Western trades, from silverwork to leather, photography to cinch making, and all the areas in between. Where do you see the future of jewelry and hand engraving? I see the industry wide open, I think more and more people will become involved because it is welcomed to put your own spin on styles. I see a melding of design styles and mediums. And I really see a shift back to a value put on handmade items. If you could pass one bit of advice on to other artists, what would it be? Be your OWN Maker! You have a niche of creativity within you, so be inspired by others but always try to make items all your own. Learn, try, fail, and smile! Is there anything else that you would like to share? I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach at GRS because getting to build community with other MAKERS is what it’s all about!

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M.C. JEWELLER ORIGINALS A conversation with Maxime Carrière

mc-jeweller.com instagram.com/mcthejeweller/

What kind of work do you do (Engraver, Jeweller/Stone Setter, goldsmith, etc.)?

As an independent jeweller, there are many roles you have to take to be a well-rounded jeweller. For myself, I am a trained goldsmith which allows me to take care of the making of each pieces from casting/cleanup to assembly. I am also trained in high-end optical setting. This I believe to be my biggest strength as a stone setter. The attention to details is absolutely required as a setter as each stone is precisely set using advanced techniques, allowing the highest results of brilliance to the finished product. I really enjoy having a part to play in the whole process which entails a high quality standard that is never compromised. How long have you been doing this work? I started my first Jewellery and Metals Program at Georgian College in 2016 at the age of 19. As a first generation jeweller, this was my introduction to the industry. Two years later, I started my first jewellery business M.C. Jeweller Originals LTD. I’ve been working full-time since then. After four years in business and learning something new every single day, I am happy to say I turned my passion into a career. How did you first become interested in Engraving/Jewelry/Stone Setting? My interest for jewellery began when I was in my senior year in high school. I was collecting watches at the time and started wearing small jewellery pieces with my outfits. I took an art class having no experience drawing or painting. Although I wanted to use my creativity in an art form, I had no clue at the time I would pursue jewellery as a career. I had visions of concept designs which I would sketch on paper in class. I wasn’t the best artist as far as my drawings and painting, even my teacher told me I should consider changing classes because she didn’t see me as an artist. This gave me even more drive to become an artist.

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How did you learn this set of skills? What training have you pursued? The Jewellery and Metal Program at Georgian College gave me some great knowledge on the tools required. It taught me about the full making process from lost wax carving, fabrication, casting, CAD design, drawing, repairs and basic stone setting. It also prepared me on the business side of the trade, showing me how to keep track of sales of product/inventory as well bookkeeping. I fell in love immediately with the trade. When I began learning the basics of stone setting in my last year at the program, I learned how to set a single bezel setting. This was a great starter, however, I wanted to go more in-depth in my learning with more technical techniques like pavé, channel, bead, and flush setting. I ended up buying a microscope in school and would practice these types of settings on my own time after class. I would incorporate the techniques I would teach myself into some of my class projects, although I was never graded on the settings since they weren’t part of the curriculum. After I graduated, I knew stone setting was what I wanted to focus on and further my training. I wanted to learn from the best, therefore I did my research and found the prestigious Alexandre Sidorov optical diamond setting school in Antwerp, Belgium. This was the game changer for me. I made my way to Belgium for three months for very intensive training with Alexandre. I poured everything I had into this training and really took it seriously. It pushed my abilities, and I took in all of this great knowledge while refining my skills. This was the best experience in my life.

If you’d like to read more about Maxime’s time training at the Alexandre School, be sure to check out the 5 Artists, 5 Questions article in Issue No.06 of Learn!

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When I started my jewellery business, I wanted to be original. I wanted people to see my work and understand the quality and time that went into every single piece. ”

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Please describe your work history/experience since you began metalworking. During the summer after my first semester in my college program, I setup my first home studio work bench in my parents’ garage. This allowed me to continue making jewellery with the knowledge I learned in my first year, I would slowly build my clientele with friends making custom pieces at low prices just to get some experience. My name started to become known in the community and beyond and people started to recognize me as a reputable jeweller. Sudbury, Ontario is a small city with not many hands-on jewellers making custom pieces. I slowly started to see the demand for custom jewellery increase and this allowed me to capitalize while making some money on the side that would help pay for my schooling. After I graduated, I found a salesmen job at a local jewellery store in the mall. This really helped me on the sales side of the business while gaining confidence to talk to clients. What I realized with a big chain jewellery store, was the lack of quality in the craftsmanship as well as lower quality stone setting due to the mass production of each piece. This gave me good insight on where I wanted to place my focus, which was quality over quantity. After completing the stone setting course in Belgium, I immediately started doing trade work for other jewellers. I would set many stones every single day to sharpen my skills as a setter while applying my new techniques. This made me a much more confident setter. When creating a new piece of work, what process do you go through? When I started my jewellery business, I wanted to be original. I wanted people to see my work and understand the quality and time that went into every single piece. The originality of the design is also important while the complexity is what will set it apart from others. When I create an M.C. Original, I really go in-depth, breaking down every detail. This also pushes my abilities and capabilities in my creations. Some centre gemstones I purchase from other artists are often the start to a creative design and building of a piece complimentary to the stone. Additionally, sometimes I draw some ideas that come to mind and I then create the piece without any involvement from clients. In my option, these are often my best works of art where my mind isn’t influenced by anything external. I also focus on creating custom pieces for my clients where their ideas are incorporated into my designs. In the first meeting with a client, we sit down and do a rough sketch of the ideas the client is interested in. After a rough sketch is approved by the client, I use CAD software to design the piece providing a full 3D render design of what the piece will look like. The design is then cast into metal. I then clean up the casting to get it ready to be set with stones. These stones are precisely set by hand with the most advanced techniques to provide the best results possible. The piece is then polished and delivered to the client.

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topped off with great customer service. “

I believe the best thing to build your clientele is to always provide them with the best on all levels. My best work using the best materials results in a great end product the customer will love,

How do you go about gaining new clients? I believe the best thing to build your clientele is to always provide them with the best on all levels. My best work using the best materials results in a great end product the customer will love, topped off with great customer service. This will leave a lasting impression and help grow repeat and new customers solidifying a reputation. A customer is for life in my opinion and taking care of them is my job. Word of mouth from my clients was a big thing for me when starting out. I also would go door to door hanging advertisements of my work in my community. I slowly started building a social media audience as well posting some custom pieces I would make. On a bigger scale, social media is such a powerful tool to reach people all over the world and that has been good for my business. Some of my biggest clients came from social media. I try to be consistent, in always keeping my audience up to date with my current projects and upcoming pieces. I also started showing the process of creating a fine piece by using videos which allows the client to Inspiration can come in a lot of different ways. As an artist, you enter a special mindset when creating something new. For me, the environment around me plays a big part in this aspect. Sometimes ideas can come very quickly, and everything comes together so perfectly. Other times it can take a few trial runs before dialing in the concept. There are many artists that inspire me and helped me with great advise. I believe it’s very important to be connected in the community and surround yourself with other artists you look up to. Some of these inspiring artists are Dalan H., Hayden M., Everett W., Patrick D., Ryan J., Derek K., Daniel V., Ser, Lado, Ian B., and many more. Platforms like The Crown Collection also inspire me since it provides an outlet to showcase some of my best work to potential collectors. understand what goes into each piece that is created. Where do you go for inspiration?

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Out of everything you have worked on, what is your most memorable/favorite project? Why are these your favorite/most memorable? It’s really hard to pick a favourite since there’s always something new and crazier in the making. Two of my favourite projects come from opportunities that Ryan Joseph and Dalan Hargrave gave me. Ryan cut an exceptional Oregon sunstone for a client, and I was allowed to have full creative freedom in the design, which was exciting. I incorporated so many technical setting techniques as well as a play of colour into a unique and massive mens’ ring covered with stones. The finished ring turned out perfectly. In the other project, Dalan cut three tourmalines from one rough stone, with the intent that they would be used in the same piece. Dalan had a collector interested in allowing me to create an original of my choice with these rare gemstones. These projects are definitely some of the most memorable since they pushed my abilities to the limits while working with such exceptional gems.

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If you could pass one bit of advice on to other artists, what would it be? For my business, I would like to keep pushing my abilities in creating one of a kind masterpieces. I would also like to get more people involved in managing aspect of the business. This would allow me to have more time on the bench where I am at my best. I would like to eventually move into a bigger space, bring on an apprentice and to grow my brand. I would like to collaborate with other artists and enter my creations into competitions. Where do you see the future of jewelry and hand engraving? I believe the artists that are truly dedicated and motivated to always showcase their best work will always strive. When we get comfortable, that’s when things aren’t as exciting anymore. What is becoming harder and harder to find is true quality craftsmanship. A lot of business concepts are focused on profit over quality control. That’s why I believe the ones that don’t cut corners will always have a place in this business since they will stand out from the majority. What are your interests outside of jewelry and engraving? My interest outside of jewellery are mostly spending time with my loved ones such as my fiancée and family and my two French bulldogs Stella and Louis. I also enjoy celebrating life with some good friends and eating good food. I like to golf in the summer and ski in the winter. Does that outside interest inform or influence your creativity in any way? I do believe in a good balance in hard work and selfcare. Taking your mind off the grind for a little while keeps it fresh. If the mind is always fresh, the creativity will always be at its best potential. What are your goals/dream projects?

If you truly believe in yourself, there’s nothing that can stop you. Set your dreams big and make goals every single day that will help you get closer to that dream. Succeeding takes dedication as well as discipline in yourself to make it real. Each failure is a lesson learned. Don’t be afraid to take risk, become the best version of yourself and achieve your highest abilities.

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So you need to get some photos of your work. Maybe you want to document the piece before sending it off to its’ new owner, you need to add it to your online store to sell, or you want to post it on your social media accounts to keep followers interested in your feed. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy a bunch of specialized equipment to get decent photos of your work (which means you can spend more of your hard-earned money on materials or to get that Jura workholding set you’ve been eyeing).

When it comes to photographing your work, lighting is the single biggest thing you need to take into consideration.

There are many options for lighting your work, and you can find all kinds of tips and tricks that may work better for your needs. These are just a few of our favorite techniques.

SINGLE LIGHT SOURCE Using both direct & reflected light off the inside of the bench. TAKEN WITH IPHONE SE (2020) Using bending arm holder. Same photo could be achieved using small tripod, or hand holding the phone. NO POST PRODUCTION ENHANCEMENTS


Mitchell Lurth engraved the plate we used for our first photo in this article. The lighting in this photo is pretty nice, but ideally the dark ink would have a little more contrast with the surrounding metal. It’s worth it to familiarize yourself with the settings on your camera and the editing options that might be available as well.

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The best way to prepare for your photoshoot is to inspect how your work interacts with the light you are using. We have two methods of doing that.

Natural Light Studies

Moving around the work piece With the work stationary, physically move around it and look to see where the existing light best highlights your work. The plate used in these two examples was engraved by Mitchell Lurth.

Move the light around the object. While you are staying stationary, move a light source above, beside, or in front of your work.

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LIGHTING METHODS There are different ways to use light for photography. We often use either of the following methods — sometimes several at the same time! Each type of work presents different challenges, so closely examine how the light is affecting your work. The items you use to diffuse or reflect the light can affect the angles that will be available to photograph your work from — some may create great light but make it very difficult to position the camera so that you can see it well. It’s worth experimenting with different setups to see which ones work best for you!

Mike Siderio engraved the plate we used to demonstrate different lighting methods. The consistent subject matter makes it easier to see how different lighting can affect your work. This plate is also a good example because it features engraving, sculpted engraving, fine lines, and a highly-polished surface.


DIFFUSION Use this method when pointing light directly at the object. Diffusion involves softening the light through translucent material. Professional photographers use softboxes to achieve diffused lighting. Fortunately, you don’t need a softbox to get great photos of your work—there are a number of household items that can serve as diffusers. The primary benefit of diffusion is that it creates even light on the object with few hot spots. There are two methods to diffuse light: At the light source, or around the piece. It should be noted that the distance of the diffuser from the light affects how even the light is.


- wax paper - parchment paper - plastic grocery bags - water jug - packing foam Some of these materials might be prone to melting if kept near a source of heat for too long, so pay attention to the temperature of your light source.



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Diffusion Studies

With each study, we’ll use a series of images that show how we set up for the photo, the unedited photo, and a version of the photo that has been edited using the available options in the phone.

Diffusion Around the Piece For this photo, we cut up a water jug and placed it over the plate to diffuse the light.

Diffusion at the Light Packing foam attached to the light as a diffuser to the light source. Please be aware of the possible flamability of the diffuser if it is close to a hot light bulb.

Diffusion Distance Placing the diffuser further from the light source makes for even softer light and eliminates the shadow from the previous photo.

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NATURAL LIGHT Natural light works best when not taking photos in direct sunlight. Choose to take photos on cloudy days because they provide even, diffused light. Taking pictures close to sunrise or sunset can make for dramatic shadows and gives your photos a yellow hue. If you have to shoot outdoors around mid day, find a shady spot under a tree or next to the side of a building to light your work more evenly. Another option to use natural light is to place your work near a window. Indirect light coming in produces a photo with even, diffused light.

Natural Light Studies

Natural Light Outdoor For this photo, we took the plate outside and placed it on a stump. It was fairly overcast at the time this photo was taken, so the clouds created a natural diffuser for the sun.

Natural Light Through a Window For this photo, the plate was propped up on a window sill so light from outside hit it indirectly.

A Few More Examples There are so many different textures out there that make great backgrounds, it can be hard to choose where to display your work! In some of these photos the clouds were beginning to clear, causing the blue sky to be reflected in the polished circle at the center of the plate.

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REFLECTION This technique involves bouncing the light off of a white surface towards the object to be photographed. This is probably the lighting method we use the most—it’s versatile and simple to position more reflectors until the piece is well-lit. It is helpful to have a large white surface to reflect light off, preferrably from above the object. Position the object so the lit surface reflects light off of the object directly toward the camera.


- foam core - cardstock - paper

Reflected Light Study

Reflected Light For this photo, we used 3 pieces of glossy card stock to create a “tent” around the plate. One light source is directed at the top piece of card stock so it bounces to the plate surface.

A BIT ABOUT BACKGROUNDS By now you may have noticed that we’ve used a different background for each photo. The list of potential interesting backgrounds is endless. Almost any surface can be used to take photos on. Other things to consider: Light reflecting off of background object it is sitting on will affect the light and color of the photo. Keep in mind the position of camera and object — if object is perpendicular to the camera, you won’t see as many reflections from the background. If shooting at an angle, the background will be reflected in the object.

EXISTING SURFACES Your bench top, vise, Satellite ® Turntable, or concrete floor can provide a natural feeling to your picture. It may also provide some context of your work environment for potential customers who are unfamiliar with your process.

PRINTED TEXTURES Printed textures can be an easy option for a photo background. You can create these from scratch or find textures on the internet (but take care to respect others’ copyrights). GLASS/ACRYLIC For a more elegant look, shooting your work on glass or plexiglass at a low angle can produce a stylish reflection. This technique is very common in jewelry photography, but can be used in many applications.



FOUND OBJECTS If you want to dress your

background up a little bit, you can add other found objects to complement your piece. Wood (both finished and raw), rocks, plants, and other natural materials help make an organic contrast to your metal-based work.



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OBJECTS You may encounter a number of challenges when lighting your work for photography. Shape, size, materials, style, and finish can affect how the light plays with your work. We have had the opportunity to photograph a wide variety of workpieces throughout the years. Here are some guidelines for troubleshooting the most common objects you may be photographing.

FLAT Flat objects are fairly easy to light evenly. Move the diffused light or your reflector so that the white is reflected from your piece. This is a great place to start if you are having trouble lighting your work. Reminder: the flat object will not be reflecting light if it is parallel to the camera lens.

Flat Object Studies

Flat Object To light this setup, a packing foam diffuser is hung from the light and a piece of glossy card stock serves as a reflector.


Pay close attention to what your work is reflecting—it is sometimes surprising the things it picks up! In this example, you can see the green of my t-shirt, the edges of the cardstock used as a reflector, and the “oops!” I scrawled on the cardstock for this example.

The reflectivity of your piece can also be helpful at times. Move your hand or a brightly colored object around the work until you see it reflected in a poorly lit area on your work. Place a light or reflector where your hand was to illuminate the dark space.

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THREE-DIMENSIONAL Objects with more dimension are a bit trickier, and may require a closer study of where the light is hitting the object. Try to keep the light fairly even, but allow shadows to softly land where they do naturally–trying to remove them completely can make the object feel flat.

Three-Dimensional Object Studies

For this photo, we had to try a few things to get the lighting right.

Too Bright With one packing foam diffuser the camera was picking up too much light, resulting in a haze around the object.


Double Diffusion Next we tried the same setup, but with a piece of cardstock layered over the packing foam diffuser. Two layers was better, but still not quite what we were hoping for.

Exposure Adjustment In the end, we went back to one piece of packing foam as a diffuser but changed the exposure level on the phone settings. This setup also utilizes 3 pieces of glossy card stock to reflect light at the piece.

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JEWELRY When shooting work with lots of stones, we usually start with a reflection-style set up. Manually moving a handheld light like a large flashlight while looking at the piece will help you discover the best color and sparkle of the stones. Polished metals reflect dark spots very easily, so be aware of the surroundings.

Jewelry Studies

Jewelry To light this piece, we used one light source and two pieces of glossy cardstock to reflect the light.


Moving the light around your jewelry allows you to highlight different aspects of the work.

This set of photos uses indirect, reflected light to highlight the thin edges of the four-pointed pattern. The lamp is placed farther away and not pointed directly at the reflector that is angled above the piece.

This set of photos points the light directly at one of our reflectors, creating a stronger light that brightens the faceted cuts within the pattern.

You may wind up with multiple photos that are good representations of the work, with no clear “best” photo.

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BRIGHT CUT Bright cut work can be one of the most challenging objects to photograph. Having all shiny surfaces, with curved cuts on a sometimes three-dimensional surface requires careful consideration on lighting. Flooding the bright cut object with light will flatten and remove detail from the work. Using dark reflection in addition to light reflection will help define the cuts on the piece. For instance, when we are shooting bright cut we sometimes place the work on a black piece of foam core or plexiglass to add contrast. Natural light can be a good option for making your work shine.

Bright Cut Studies

Bright Cut Object For this photo, we used one light source and two pieces of glossy cardstock to reflect the light.





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