It quickly became apparent that the detail and quality of digital images to be processed in such a manner was of utmost importance. Although composition, subject matter, color and lighting are critical, detail and texture must be captured using exacting photographic technique and equipment. Detail that is not in the base image can not be created. What this means is that the base image (the photograph to be processed) must not only be able to stand on its own, but have unusual sharpness and clarity. Although often photographers use plug-ins and other techniques to try to salvage images with shortcomings, rarely is that the case with images shown here. The size of the base image is important as well. Cropping significant amounts not only reduces detail present in any photograph, but since detail is even more important in images displayed here, cropping is minimized as much as possible.
There are several other characteristics of photographs that make the best images, and often I keep these in mind when in the field taking photographs; minimizing shadows and shooting "high-key". Nonetheless, neither of these is absolutely necessary, and some images turn out OK without them.
Shadows are not only detrimental to such images because of the distraction they cause, but often contain very little detail. This makes lighting very important in creating suitable base images. The soft, low contrast light of overcast or cloudy days is almost a prequisite.
High Key, generally with its white background, is extremely well suited to illustration type images, which traditionally are rendered on white paper. Since low contrast and generally lacking shadows, it also tends to accentuate the subject, its colors and textures.