Scanning Artwork: Your methods

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  04 April 2005
Scanning Artwork: Your methods

I've been doing a hell of a lot of pencil sketches recently, and now want to colour those in photoshop. I wanted to get a grasp on the pre and post scan methods you employ for prepping an artwork for the computer, not just for pencil, but for watercolour, marker and so forth.

The main issue I have is that the lighter strokes and shading of my sketches tend to lose detail when I've scanned them.

All scanning tips are useful. Photographing artwork would be interesting to read too.
"There Really is No Secret"
Martin Brennand - mocha Product Manager - Imagineer Systems
  04 April 2005
I would not suggest to photograph your wonder art as you have to make sure the light is equally spread all over it, it is only sugested if you aint got no scaner.

When you scan, do you get anny contrast controll? if so, turn it off to low contrast, high contrast tend to eliminate some thin lines.
  04 April 2005
Scanning tips and tricks

In your case you are aiming to capture as much detail as possible from the original. This can be tricky... I suggest the following things.

1) Make sure that the original is clean as possible and that the scanner glass is clean.

2) get your artwork as flat as possible. If the paper is larger than the scanner try and get the part your are scanning away from the edge that overlaps.

3) remove any contrast enhancements sharpening filters that the scanning program wants to add. these will make you loose subtlety in your final resurlt.
  04 April 2005
My workflow

Usually I scan pencil sketches to be used in 2D or 3D works as a template. Typically I want something clean and easy to read. My workflow looks something like this.

1) Scan image at high resolution as possible with no sharpening or contrast enhancement.
This original is saved and archived onto CD - Just in case....

2) Using a copy reduce resolution to the required amount... depends on application

3) use clone brush to get rid of any obvious defects might make another save here (CDs are cheep)

4) Use Curves tool to increase contrast and remove background detail (paper grain etc)

5) Save and archive sketch.

What happens next depends on what application I have for the image:
6) 2D painting/colouring: Move sketch to a new layer - set layer mode to multiply colour background layer - I generally work above this layer when painting, below it when colouring.
2D vector - Contrast/detail removal is more seveer in this case. Image is at screen res
load image into Illustration program and trace - possibly simplify curves after. Helps if originals are done with something like brush and ink.
3D template - load image onto 512x 512 size image along with other angels of same contruction. This size works well with most 3d apps.
  04 April 2005
Great tips so far guys! As for capturing the shading etc, the only reason I ask about that is if I want to post up sketchbook stuff straight from the source (like the sketchbook forum on, I don't want to lose the detail. What you've said covers pretty much what I want, but I'm sure there's more interesting tidbits!

Sometimes it would be nigh impossible to scan an artwork, say if it were an oil canvas painting. I'd like to hear of lighting setups to get the best overall light for photographing as well!
"There Really is No Secret"
Martin Brennand - mocha Product Manager - Imagineer Systems
  04 April 2005
This is done in painter IX and Inkscape.

Since i dont have any drawing pad like a WACOM i usually trace all my work through Inkscape which is free, you can google it. Then i scan it and trace the bitmap and get this result:

As you can see the tracing is not perfect, and then you got the splotches of grey and blue all over the paper, because it was scanned that way. The next step i do is to use the dodge tool in Painter under Brush Category: Photo. Just drag it all over the place until all gray and blue unwanted crap disappears. Im pretty sure that this method doesent work on everything, but so far it worked for me. This is after the dodge.
  04 April 2005


1. scan at a resolution of at least 300dpi (so that the image can bea at least printed at the same size as original if needed in future). Scan higher than this if smaller details are important or enlarging smaller images.

2. save files in tiff format. jpeg looses quality over many saves.

3. larger than A4 size images? scan in sections and complie the images together later in photoshop/etc.

4. if scanning just black/white or pencil drawings. desaturate the image after scanning it.

5. use "levels" tool and click "white point" and choose a white area (this is optional and worth testing) click in a few different areas of white as the subtleties can be quite small and have a BIG impact to the brightness of the image. NB: This is really great for hand-drawn tatoos, etc with bright colours.

6. depending on how the scan looks at this stage a "sharpen" of 0.5 - 2.0 could really help the image.

- Somhairle
  04 April 2005
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