The Fine Art of Scanning a little spottyLast night I finished the first piece in my current watercolor series. I am working on the second piece now. The pieces in this series are small (approximately 4.5″ square). They are also a little rough as the watercolor pencils and I are still establishing our working relationship. Heh. This is definitely a test of my perfectionist tendencies, but so far I seem to be handling it well. This first piece (partial photo at right) is a little spotty, in more ways than one.

I figured that since I managed to finish this piece, which I probably won’t sell, I would try my hand at scanning it for printing purposes. I did a little research and discovered that professional scanning services can be pretty pricey – definitely more than I’m willing to spend on a ‘practice’ series such as this. So, I contacted one of my web design clients who is a professional artist to see if she could offer any advice. Surprisingly, she told me she does all of her own scanning in her studio with her own scanner. Interesting.

I have a pretty good scanner. I’m pretty well-versed in tech junk. And I have (reasonably) mad Photoshop skillz. I can do this, right?


Friends, believe me when I tell you, scanning is not so easy…not for a lifelong perfectionist (in recovery) like yours truly. Now, I can hear you all saying, ‘C’mon, Ruth, how hard can it be? You just throw the piece in there, make sure it’s straight, click the scan button, and voila!’ And to you I say, I shared your cockiness for about 35 seconds until I saw the life sucked out of my piece right before my eyes. It was like a pretty girl after a run-in with a vampire, one minute it was all bright and vibrant and the next – totally pasty and unappealing (Ya like that analogy, Twihards? Heh.).

The first scan was so bad that no amount of tweaking in Photoshop could bring it back from the dead. Several setting changes later, I managed to create something that I could work with. The next part of the process went something like this: run upstairs, open file, adjust, look back and forth between screen and original piece half a dozen times, tweak, send to printer, run downstairs, grab test print, sigh with disappointment, run back upstairs, start process all over again. After a few times through, I managed to come with something fairly reasonable, but it is obvious that for awhile it is going to take me almost as long to scan these pieces as it does to paint them. Eh, at least I’ll get some much-needed exercise.

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One thought on “The Fine Art of Scanning

  1. So true, if you figure out how to scan art without sucking the color out please let me know. Although you do have great photography skills why not take digital photos of your watercolors instead.

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