Turning Rocks Into Fine Art


Abstract Rock Art



Macro Photography is taking a small section of rock and increasing the image into a Fine Art Print.  As seen in my "Abstract Rock" series, inspired by a rock found on the Yuba River, in California. Over the course of 15 years, a little river rock became Fine Art. 




  • Rock hounding, how, where, and what rocks to collect for art
  • Lapidary equipment, saws, safety gear, tools, materials
  • Oils, lubrication, adhesives,
  • Photography, camera, scanning, lighting, camera equipment
  • Professional printers, papers, inks, margins, bleeds, colors
  • Glass scanning beds, moisture control, and air bubble nightmares
  • Cleaning rocks, sonic cleaners, and preventing stupid dust.
  • Inventory, organizing, storing, and effective product management
  • Achieving a "wet look" without glare to capture a clear detailed image. (This took a long time to figure out, with lots of failures) 
  • Photoshop, editing software programs, editing techniques
  • Formatting, RAW, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PDF files for online production, and proper uses. DPI, Resolution, and things I still don't understand.
  •  Print on demand, shipping, packaging, product production
  • Web design, graphic design, SEO, Social Media Marketing
  • How to write blogs to help others, provide easy resource links, contacts and information to get started in Rock Art 

(Links will take you to additional resources)



Pick up a variety of rock slabs, with different color patterns, and contrasting elements to see what translates best on print. Shop online (eBay), or at your local Rock Shops, Art & Craft Fairs, Gem, and Mineral show.



You can use your phone, digital camera, or even a scanner or microscope to snap images. Practice lighting, angles, and close-ups. Look at all the little lines, and changes in color and texture. Do you see any scenes appear? Distant hills? A river? Maybe the cracks look like trees drifting into a cloudy sky. Let your imagination run wild with infinite possibilities. Find the frame that speaks to you the most, and through editing software like Adobe Photoshop, narrow down and emphasize what you want to showcase. 



"Mountain Fog"


There you go! You've just created Abstract Rock Art. To get bright, clear, crisp images, that you can make prints with. You will need to keep practicing with different equipment, and rocks, editing, and taking notes of the next steps outlined.



Visit the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies online website at https://www.amfed.org/. Learn about your local resources and identify the types of rocks you want to turn into abstract prints. You can take advantage of your geographical location, plan a trip to areas that produces what you seek, visit rock, gem, and mineral shows, or acquire a versatile collection by purchasing online. There are rock clubs, public mineral and gem mines, stores, rock-hounding groups, and a lot of organizations supporting art, and love of rocks!

(Please be aware of your local, and federal laws and regulations when collecting, handling and moving natural rocks)
Want to Slab your own?
If you're interested in cutting your own slabs, then you'll need a lapidary saw.  The Link above is an Amazon (affiliate) link for a good entry-quality example. The saw in the photo with me smiling, is a big 18" Oil lapidary Slab Saw. It's always best to do your own research and find your perfect match. If you don't have much experience, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with safety first. Look into the local saw, woodworking safety classes, Home Depot classes, online tutorials, and YouTube videos like "Lapidary 101" to gain a basic understanding, and knowledge before going choppy-choppy.
When working with a saw that's not enclosed you'll want:
A face mask, similar to the 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6800 will provide exceptional coverage and comfort for an affordable price. If you want something less invasive, both the goggles and glasses Dewalt makes can be a good place to start. For your ears, something like these 3M Work Tunes Connect Hearing Protection headphones will help reduce the impact on your ears. If you're using a bigger slab saw that is self-operational, make sure you're wearing the proper gear when handling cuts, cleanings, and repairs.

What saw should you get?


 If you are interested in purchasing a saw for jewelry, and smaller rocks. the Hi-Tech Diamond 10" Lapidary Slab Saw available on amazon uses water, is hands-on, and will make slabbing rocks straightforward. At this size, you're still able to get some small, and mid-size cuts to experiment imaging with too, I do suggest getting the vice attachment for safety, and comfort.  As you start expanding into larger pieces, you'll need the next step up. To get crisp, clear images the larger Oil Lapidary Slab Saws will be your best investment. Though they don't work well with smaller rocks, in my opinion, it's so much fun watching them cut an 8" and larger rock of paper. They are very expensive, but they produce the highest quality cuts. As time progresses, you'll obtain the experience to move up accordingly, and find your niche. There might be local Rock clubs that offer "saw" time, and you can pay per slab, to see firsthand.


You can always order slabs online, in the size you need, and focus on capturing the image and not the cut. eBay is a great place to find rock slabs to start. 
Always remember, as long as you are willing to learn new things, and navigate through obstacles, you will succeed in anything you do, and you'll make incredible art!
Here is an example of the saw blade I used for my toughest Rock "Landscape" Abstract Rock Print:
You definitely want to invest in quality equipment. Trying to save in the short term, ended up costing me, in the long term.


If you made slabs yourself, it's time to clean the oil, and debris off before taking an image. The best thing I found was sonic cleaners, an example of one is the CREWORKS Ultrasonic Cleaner. If you purchased slabs or used a water-based saw, it's still a good idea to clean them thoroughly to significantly reduce editing and imperfections in your final piece.


Once the slabs are cleaned, you have to choose what technique you are going to use to get the "wet look" to capture the details of the rock. I found that sealers, gloss finishes, or varnishes leave a film that shows up in the photo and muddies the color and clarity. I got stuck at this phase for a while, as my images weren't coming out as clearly as I wanted.

"Red River"

Deciding if you're going to use photography equipment, or scanners to capture the rock image is another personal choice. This ties in with how you're going to get the gloss finish. If you're going to look into photography gear, you will need a good quality DSLR with Macro Lens, studio and lighting setup, tripods, and more. I use a Nikon D7500  for all my business needs, product photos, artwork, prints, and everyday life. When it came to capturing the Rock's beauty, I chose to utilize a flatbed scanner to take the highest quality images of my rocks for print. Choosing which method of imaging, will contribute to your outcome. If you're already savvy with Photoshop and Photography, you will have a lot more success than I did!

I had a hard time getting the gloss look on the rocks, with minimal glare, with the clearest, brightest image. I wanted to do minimal editing and showcase the natural beauty of the stone. I sat and thought about the basics of rocks, the best time to search for river rocks is during a light sprinkle. As the rain dampens the rocks, out pops the colors, details, and wonders within the minerals. When rocks are wet, they glisten and shine.

I decided to get a custom glass box made with sides high enough to hold water and cover the surface of the rock laying in it (not threatening the electronics). The glass box sat on the scanner, and a piece of blackout fabric was draped over it to cut out all light during scans.  

Once the image was scanned into a computer, I would save it as a high-resolution TIFF file. I used Photoshop to clean any dust, water bubbles, debris, or imperfections. I do minimal color and level correction, only to emphasize and communicate the rock's true natural beauty.

"River Glass"

I save the high-resolution original for Printing. I make a copy of the image, add a watermark, and resize it as a JPEG for online catalogs, social media posts, website photos, blog posts, and general advertising. 

Once your image is edited, sized, and ready for print. It's time to run a test print to see how it looks in real life.  I use a few different print-on-demand services like Printful and Prodigi. You might have a local print shop you can go to as well. If you're looking to make a print for your home and business, any printing service will work. If you want to have prints available to purchase online, I recommend requesting a sample box from Prodigi, that will help you identify the right fit for your art.



After uploading your file to your preferred printer, select the product you want. Size, edit, and make sure everything is within the margin and covering the design area. Now, it's time to send it to the printers! Once you receive your test print in the mail, analyze it from different distances, and lighting, and make any editing adjustments needed for your satisfaction. When you've narrowed down the perfect final print. You're ready to frame it and enjoy the beautiful creation you've made. Bravo! You've successfully taken a rock and turned it into Fine Art.




American Federation of Mineralogical Societies
Gem & Mineral Society America:
Rock & Mineral Shows
Top Spots for Gem Hunting in the US

Product Links:

10" Lapidary Slab Saw

Lapidary Rock Grinder Polisher

CabKing 6" Cabbing Machine | Lapidary Rock Grinder Polisher | Model CABKING-6V3

3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator

Full Face mask for working. face shield, respirator, face protection, eye protection, lung protection

Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera

Nikon D7100 DSLR camera for work, business, and personal life. Photo and video to get the content you need to build your business and express your inner artist

Large Format Scanner

Large format scanner

Hearing Protection

Hearing Protection that's bluetooth to enjoy your music while you work. best work headphones,

CREWORKS Ultrasonic Cleaner

Ultra Sonic Cleaner to get the smudges, debris and dirt from your surface to have a clear and clean product to work with


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Design like a Pro!


Jess Alice

Find me on social media to stay up to date on my newest project. Thank you for your support, and I wish you infinite blessings!
Jess Alice Artist, Chainsaw Carver, Entrepeneur, Crafter, Photographer, Mountain Mama
Product links within the Blog re-direct you to affiliated products, whereas Jess Alice as an Amazon Associate earns commissions from qualifying purchases. 


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