4 Tips for Scanning Your Artwork

by Valerie Johnston | May 8, 2012

film scanner, flatbed scanner, photo scanner, negative scanner, negative film

Technology can sometimes make you stop and wonder if the world would be a better place without all of the machines and gadgets we have come to use each day. The one thing that most of us really cannot do without any longer, however, is our computer. It is where we store our ideas, our financial data, our entertainment and more.

Whether we have a laptop or a desktop, it is also pretty handy to have a flatbed scanner too. This is something that can allow us to lead an almost paperless life if we desire because it will let us scan receipts and documents and then keep everything on a USB drive or even stored somewhere in "the cloud".

The digital scanner is also something of tremendous value if you are a DIY enthusiast too. This is because it can allow you to take almost any "scannable" item and create some sort of artwork out of it. For instance, you might love old fashioned ephemera relating to sewing or clothing. You could scan a huge number of them and then make a digital collage. You wouldn't sacrifice the antique paper documents and items and the scanner would allow you spare these things, plus you'd get some original artwork out of the deal.

film scanner, flatbed scanner, photo scanner, negative scanner, negative film

Can you also use the digital scanner to just capture artwork images that you have already made? Absolutely! There are a few things to consider in terms of quality and results, and we'll go over them here:

  1. What's the Resolution - your scanner has to have good "resolution" if you are going to try to capture images of items that have fine details. The way it works is simple: you have an old photograph that has gorgeous colors and unique features. It was taken with an old 110 film camera and printed on paper that feels a bit "textured". If you want to capture these things, the scanner will have to be able to grab this resolution and the details without also ruining the looks of the scan. Remember that you (or the printing company) are probably going to be enlarging the reprint and you may decide that the graininess is not really valuable to the image. So, the way to make the best scan is to tinker with the resolution and work from a lower figure, such as 300 dpi to a much higher setting such as 600 dpi or higher. Only then can you discover if your original artwork or photographs are going to be "wall worthy".
  2. Sizes - considering resolution often makes people wonder if just anything that they have made can be scanned and converted to digital art or some sort of wall print. That is a reasonable question. For example, let's say that you adore some sketches your children have done and want to preserve them permanently. Scanning them and turning them into a digital file is a good way to protect them, and you can then use those files to make digital prints. Remember, however, that you are usually limited to the size of standard printer paper when you handle the task. You can opt to send a digital file to a photo to canvas printing company if you want a traditionally large image, but you have to really scrutinize the results in terms of resolution and quality when it is a poster print.
  3. Think about results - you may hold up a 4x6 image or a small sketch done on a canvas and think that you just love it...but what if it were two feet tall by more than one foot wide? Would you still love the image at this wall print size? Stop and mentally visualize the image in this enlarged state. A lot of photo to canvas printers will give you a preview, but even the nicest shot may not do well if it is too large.
  4. Subject matter - finally, you never have to limit your scans to artwork or photography. If you love the way some old stamps look you can scan them, enlarge them and print them. Maybe you love some old cookbook covers, the soles of a pair of shoes, your children's hands...anything that can be safely placed on a scanner can be turned into a file that can then be made into wall art. It is really up to your imagination!

Photography, fine art printing and decorating news and advice

Tips-n-Tricks #370

Set up a efficient working process from pre-shoot to photo shoot to editing to delivery. This can help ensure you get consistent results from your photo sessions every time.


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