Scanning is the best way to convert physical documents into digital. Regular documents can be scanned easily. Problem arises when you need to transfer large pieces of art into the digital world.
So, how to scan large artwork if it doesn’t fit in a typical scanner? Well, it’s easy – you just need to scan the piece in sections.
Yes, you read it right – you won’t have to cut or tear the artwork apart. Simply scan a few sections at the time and then connect everything with a computer.
It sounds easy, but it’s not. We decided to create a brief guide that covers every detail and factor. If you’re looking to scan your large artwork but can’t seem to find an easy way to do so – this article is for you. Continue reading!
Why use a scanner and not a camera?
Let’s first explain why a scanner is the only device that can help you scan your artwork.
There are many reasons. So we’re going to explain why a scanner is such an excellent piece of equipment, and why a camera is not worth using. Here’s what we mean:
Scanners are simpler
Scanners are simpler than most people realize. It is easy to connect the scanner to electricity and install it on your computer. Then you can scan any artworks you wish. They will drop right on your computer.
You will need to locate the best spot for lightning and shadows with a camera. Then, you’ll need to set up a proper lens and find the ideal position to take the photos. Finally, transfer all the data to a computer via USB and Bluetooth.
Scanners offer a higher scan quality
It may seem a little counterintuitive, but it’s true. Cameras are not designed to reproduce physical artwork digitally.
Scanners provide the brightness, detailing, resolution, vibrancy, and more faithful reproduction from physical to digital – without distortions from lightning, shadows, or movement. The scanner for documents and photos provides all the facilities you need for scanning.
Scanners are now more accessible
Even the largest scanner costs less than half of a high-end digital camera. The scans are more accurate than a photo taken with a camera.
If you don’t have the money to buy a new scanner, then you can always rent one from supply shops and other similar places. Renting a camera is more difficult, especially if you’ll need extra equipment like lightning and lenses.
Are you now clear about why a scanner is the best choice? Continue reading if you are positive that a scanner is the best choice.
6 Steps to Scanning Large Artwork
We wanted to be concise, but also to make sure that everything was explained as clearly as possible. This wasn’t easy, of course, but we managed to come up with an easy-to-read and comprehensive guide.
If you’re looking to bring your physical artwork to the digital world, then follow these steps:
1. Select the right scanner
First and foremost – make sure you get a scanner that indeed works for scanning your piece of art. But how do you choose the right scanner? Well, easy – you need to consider all the different factors that matter, such as:
- Type of scanner
- Scan quality
- Image & color format
We’re going to explain each one of these features next:
➥ Types of scanner
There are two main types available on the market: CID Scanners (CIS Scanners) and CID Scanners (CID Scanners). What’s the difference here? Well, the CIS scanner only works with plain & smooth paper – meaning if you place something with a textured surface or something that raises, it won’t work too well.
CID scanners can scan both smooth and texture pieces. It can scan any type of item, including acrylic paintings and water-color papers.
But how is this possible? It all boils down to the design and function of the scanner. The CIS model includes a cover or lid that presses the document/piece down to increase pressure. This pressure helps bring the piece to the glass. scanner can take the best image It is possible without blurriness or background lighting
A CID scanner, on the other hand, doesn’t have this cover/lid. And if it does, there’s no need to use it for a proper scan. It can be left with the top up and still produce the scan quality that you require. Yet, they’re more expensive than CIS scanners.
You should choose the one that meets all your requirements. A CID scanner is best if your artwork is difficult to flatten. But if it’s not and you can push it down to the glass with no issues, then a cheaper CIS model will do the job.
Some scanners are capable of handling standard A1 pages. Others can handle larger A4 papers. But there’s nothing that can handle a large piece of artwork. That’s why you must consider getting the largest possible scanner you can. We understand that this can be expensive so do it anyway.
It is more difficult to scan everything if the scanner is smaller. You’ll have to scan several parts of the art piece separately, and then unite them through a design program. If the scanner is small, then you will have to take more scans on the artwork, and you’ll have more images to put together later.
A 50-inch wide artwork will require at least 5 scans to get it complete in a scanner that is 10 inches wide. The same artwork will only take one or two scans on a scanner that is 50 inches wide.
➥ Scan Quality
Two factors matter enormously when looking for excellent scan quality – DPI and PPI. Both are important for quality scans, but we pay more attention to DPI. Why? Why? Because DPI (dots/inch) refers how many images are present per inch.
The higher the DPI of the scanner, the larger the image will be on each scan.
That’s why we recommend getting at least 300 DPI (dots per inch) if you want a neat enough scan of your artwork.
If you want exceptional quality, then don’t go for scanners with 1200 DPI. Otherwise, you might end up looking fuzzy or rough.
You will then find the PPI (pixels/inch). This is a similar measurement to DPI, but it is much less important since it focuses on details and not size. To ensure decent quality, ensure you have at least 300 PPI. You may experience blurriness and pixelation.
➥ Image & Color Format
Consider the format that the scanner can work with. There are many things to consider:
- JPG / JPEG
We recommend scanners that can read and write TIFF files. They preserve quality much better than any PNG/JPEG – and that’s because TIFF doesn’t have a single inch of compression.
BMP and PCX are also excellent options. They preserve quality well and are easy to import into design software.
The same goes for the color format. This can be slightly more difficult to find if you aren’t tech-savvy. If you are able to modify it or customize it, make sure it is CMYK. This color scheme is perfect for adding vibrancy and brightness to the scanned artwork.
However, you can choose whatever is more practical. However, quality can vary greatly between formats, especially when it comes to large pieces of artwork such as this.
2. Choose an editing software
You’ll find tons of editing software options to go for. Adobe Photoshop is our favorite because of its ease-of-use and compatibility with most files that can be imported/exported.
CorelDRAW and Luminar can be used. Capture One is another option. It doesn’t matter if you are more familiar with the program or what you know. However, make sure that it can handle the file type you need: TIFF, BMP or PCX.
The design software must also be able to work with layers. It shouldn’t be a standard photo-editing softwared, but something more serious that can handle complex jobs. Later, you’ll know why this is important.
Finally, ensure that the program is compatible with your computer. Photoshop, for example, can be very resource-intensive. CorelDRAW, on the other hand, is lighter and more intuitive to use. Corel, a lighter version of CorelDRAW, will work well on a slower computer.
3. Prepare & Test
Once you have the scanner, the software and all the necessary preparations, you can start scanning.
Here’s how to prepare everything:
- Connect the scanner to the computer. If the scanner is already connected, you can clean the surface of dust and debris.
- Now adjust the scanner settings so that they are as high as possible. Test the scanner settings with a photo, portrait or a small piece of artwork.
- Once you have saved the test image to your computer, it is possible to check if it has the correct format. If it doesn’t, you may need to download the scanner software or modify it directly from its manual system. This can take a while.
- After you have created the perfect format, you will need to open the files with your editing program. If the program can’t open the files, then you may need to change to another one.
If the image was saved correctly and you could open it with no problems, then you’re done with the testing. With no problems, you can continue with the actual scan.
4. Start Scanning
This is where the more difficult steps begin. You’ll need to make sure that everything lines up correctly for the scans to be perfect, and you can eventually stitch them together.
- First, create a mental diagram of how you would like to divide the artwork. Next, calculate based on the size and dimensions of the artwork and the scanner. For example, a 50×50 inch artwork might need to be broken down into five parts in order to fit on a 10×10 inches scanner.
- Once you have your mental map, you are able to start aligning the artwork on the scanner according to it. Begin by placing the artwork on the scanner. Place the artwork flatly on the scanner. It should match the scanner’s glass borders so that nothing is lost in the scan.
- Every section that you scan must match the previous ones. That means you shouldn’t repeat the same section twice. You may also want to overlap sections a bit. This will make it easier for you to sew together without leaving any gaps or missing sections.
- Now press the scan button and wait for the machine to finish its job. You should not save anything without a preview. Check Before saving the file, ensure that everything is aligned correctly. If it doesn’t, then line up the artwork as necessary.
- Save the files in a new folder on your computer. To make it easy to edit later, ensure that everything is in the exact same folder. Also, don’t forget to check if the files have the right format again. If everything looks correct, then you’re done with the scanning.
Now that you’ve successfully scanned everything, you’re ready to proceed with the editing & stitching of the files.
5. Check Scan Files
This is where you will need to jump on the computer. It’s time to check whether the files look good enough, and plan how you’re going to stitch them together. Also, make any edits.
These are the steps to follow:
- Open the editing software. If you aren’t familiar with editing programs, then ask for the help of someone who has experience. You can also find tons of tutorials online.
- After you have the editing program installed, you will be able to open the saved files from your scanner. Next, locate the folder in which you saved everything.
- Most editing programs, such as Photoshop, allow you to open each file in different projects. Check They should be arranged in this manner before they are merged into the same project.
- They should all be neat. You can trim them later. You will find scans all over the place. Some of the scans will need to be cropped or resized. This is the right time to do it.
- Don’t alter the resolution or DPI for any scanned file. If you’re cropping or re-sizing the image, make sure it doesn’t change much. And if there’s a window to change the quality or something similar, omit it. Some editing programs allow you to set each file at the same resolution/size.
Once you’ve checked all the scan files and made the first few edits, then you’re ready to stitch them together.
6. Stitch the Scans Together
This is the most difficult part of the entire process. And you’ll have to be careful as well as patient, so everything fits correctly. It is not rocket science.
Here’s how to proceed:
- Now that you’ve opened each file and fix them as necessary, you can continue to put them together. Here, you’ll see how they fit, depending on the edits you made. You can edit each section individually if necessary.
- Next, create a new project in the editing program. Set a background color that doesn’t mix with the artwork color. This will make it easy to edit everything. You can now upload the scan files into the new project.
- Place each layer as a layer on your new project. If you had to scan the artwork in 6 pieces, you’d have 6 layers to work with. Don’t merge the layers until the end.
- After each layer has been edited, align them together. Adjust the layer’s opacity to 50% or whatever you prefer. This will allow you to move the pieces more easily.
- After you have placed the first layer on your file, adjust its opacity so that it is 100%. This will allow you align the other layers seamlessly. Use the mouse and arrow keys to adjust them properly. Don’t leave any gap and overlapping part.
You can achieve anything you want. There’s no need to add special effects or anything of the like. Just place the layers together and make sure they fit the original physical artwork.
7. Finish and Save
After setting all the layers together (this can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours), and you liked the final result, then you’re ready to stitch them together.
- You can merge layers into one image by using a function. This is called “flatten” on Photoshop but can be a different name on other editing software.
- Once you’ve merged the layers, then you need to eliminate any remaining bit on the image. This could be done with the background color, orange or with dots (gray/white/black). Re-size the image if necessary, but make sure it doesn’t change the DPI and/or resolution.
- If the colors change a little after you’ve merged the layers, then you may need to edit the image. This is a tricky area, so be careful and only do it if you are confident. Otherwise, you can keep the image as is.
- Save the image in the preferred format. We recommend PCX, BMP, and TIFF to preserve the image’s quality with minimal compression.
By now, you’ve successfully scanned a large artwork.
Get a scan of your large artwork now!
It can be a bit more difficult than you expected to scan large pieces of artwork. But if you do it right, then it’s totally worth it.
There’s no other way to bring large art pieces to be digital unless you have an industrial scanner. These can be extremely difficult to find as well as very expensive.
Follow these steps and make sure to do it correctly. Finally, scan your favorite artwork using our help. You won’t be disappointed with the final result!
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