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How to Set Up a Still Life

how to set up a still life

A still life is an art composition in which the subject matter is a single object. It can be anything from flowers, fruit, or trash to more abstract compositions like bottles and books.

The purpose of this type of painting was originally meant for artists to practice their skills with accuracy and detail when depicting objects on the canvas. However, over time, it has become popular among other painters looking for inspiration that does not necessarily need to represent natural settings.

In this article, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to set up a still life and explain the reasons behind each part of the process.

How do i Set Up my Own Still Life?

What you’ll need to set up a still life

  • A table or other flat surface
  • A chair (optional)
  • A light source
  • Props for your still life scene

Choosing a Location and Arranging Your Objects

Whatever your theme is, keep these following elements in mind while arranging your objects and choosing where to set them up.

Good Natural Light

When setting up your still life, you’ll need to choose a location and arrange your objects. The location should have good natural light; if possible, set up near a window.


You’ll also want to make sure there’s enough space on the table to fit all of your objects. As for the object arrangement, think about how you want the scene to look.

For example, are you trying to set up a still life that looks like it’s set in the kitchen? Or perhaps you would prefer an arrangement that appears as if someone just set down whatever was on their desk for a lunch break at work.

Adding Depth and Interest with Perspective

how do i set up my own still life?

When creating depth within your scene, do so by:

  • Placing larger objects towards the back of the table. If placed correctly, this will trick viewers’ eyes into thinking there is more space between each object than there is.
  • Adding visual interest to your scene, like increasing the depth by usingperspective lines. This step involves connecting two or more points together (usually with lines) to create the illusion of depth.
  • This can be done by drawing these perspective lines between objects or even the edge of the table itself.

Lighting the Scene

One of the most important aspects of any still life is lighting. Not only does proper lighting make your scene more visually appealing, but it also helps set the mood and atmosphere. When choosing a light source for your still life, you’ll want to consider both its location and intensity.


For example, if you’re working near a window, you might not need additional lights. However, if you’re setting up your still life in a room without much natural light, you’ll likely need to use artificial lights as well.


You’ll want to set the mood of your scene by adjusting your lights accordingly. If you want a warm, cozy feel (for example, for still life set in wintertime), use warmer colors like red or orange.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more bright and energizing (such as for summertime set up), try using brighter colors like blue or yellow.

Adding Accessories and Final Touches

Once your objects are set up the way you want them, it’s time to add any final touches. This might include adding accessories like flowers or fruit, or even leaves and branches from a nearby tree.

Take a step back and look at your scene as a whole; once you’re happy with how it looks, snap a few photos to capture the moment. Enjoy your new still life!


Setting up a still life is a great way to practice your composition skills while also creating something visually appealing. When setting up a still life, it’s important to take into account all of the factors that contribute to your chosen final product. Consider what objects might be most appealing for an audience looking at this piece from afar. By following these simple steps, you can create beautiful scenes that will last forever.

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