History of Art


Digital Image Guidelines

Digital images suitable for projection can be obtained in a number of ways. These include:

Internet Search

Search engines such as Google often have image functions. A search on Google Images for a well-known artwork may reveal dozens or even hundreds of images. These images will have been put into websites by many different people, for many different purposes, and so will therefore vary greatly in quality. In selecting images for your use some points to bear in mind are

  • Size - Computer screen output is generally 1024 x 768 pixels. Any images much smaller than this will lose quality if 'stretched' to fit screen size.
  • Manipulation - Images are easily altered electronically. Beware of images that have had colours changed; have been distorted to fit a particular aspect ratio; or have been 'montaged' for comic effect.
  • File Format - Image files come in various formats - non-compressed files such as TIFF are very large (and require a lot of memory). The standard for compressed files tends to be jpeg format (files ending in .jpeg or .jpg) and these can be used in PowerPoint with no difficulty.

Once you have located an image you wish to use open the full sized image, place your cursor over the image, right click on the mouse and you will see a 'save as' option if the image is available.

Trusted Web Sites

Many galleries and museums provide digital images of works from their collection through their websites. In general these images are smaller than screen size but large enough for a reasonable projection (institutions are wary of providing larger images as they could be used for purposes for which payment is expected). Once you have located an image you wish to use place your cursor over the image and a right click on the mouse will provide a 'save as' option if the image is available.

Subscription Databases

These are searchable collections of images designed for purposes such as ours - the images can be trusted and are copyright cleared for teaching purposes.

UCL Library services provide Art Museum Image Gallery. From the Library homepage select 'databases' then select subject 'Art' and the link will appear in the alphabetical list.

Senate House Library (ULRLS) provide ARTstor. From the Library homepage select 'Databases' and the link will appear in the alphabetical list.


Professional quality scanners are available for your use in the Visual Resources Room. They can scan from reflective images (book illustrations, photographic prints, postcards etc.) up to A3 size, and from photographic negatives and positives (slides). The quality of a digital image will be dependent on the source image from which it is scanned - it is worth taking time to find a good quality image of reasonable size and free from creases and blemishes. Certain defects can be remedied after scanning using digital manipulation software but this can be very time consuming. The easiest way to transfer resultant images to your own computer is via a portable storage device such as a USB stick.

We can offer further advice on all these matters and will provide instruction on the use of scanners, and basic instruction in the use of image manipulation software (e.g. Photoshop, GIMP) and preparation of slideshows using Microsoft PowerPoint. Training in Photoshop and PowerPoint is also available to all students and staff through UCL Information Services Division.

Please feel free to visit us in room G01, 20 Gordon Square, or contact hoa.it@ucl.ac.uk, or telephone 020 3108 4023.