I'm hoping to get your collective thoughts on scanning large pieces of art
which are too big to fit on a desktop scanner.
I generally work in watercolor on paper and sometimes provide artwork for
interpretive outdoor signage. These signs are often as large as 24" x 36"
and I usually paint them at 100% or slightly larger in order to preserve
detail in the scanning, but also because they often contain passages which
would just be too tiny for me to paint effectively at smaller scale.
Sometimes I do the sign layout, sometimes the client does, but in either
case, there's a need to have the image digitized. The sign comapnies I've
worked with in the past seem to be satisfied by an image as low-res as 150
dpi, but I'd prefer to at least start with something sharper, even if it
has to be scaled down to that.
In the past, I've had an imaging company here in Kalamazoo scan it for me
using some sort of roller-feed scanner. The results have never been very
good, but this last job really stunk! Very poor focus which no amount of
unsharp-masking could correct (and pretty bad color, though not completely
un-fixable, just time consuming). I scanned portions of the painting on my
little old Epson 1200 scanner and got results which were VASTLY superior. I
asked the imaging company to run me another scan and please tweak it this
time, which they cheerfully did, with slightly better results. They charge
only $30 to produce the scans . . . I should've been alerted by the low low
I called around town for alternatives and found that no one else has any
sort of large scanner, neither flatbed nor drum. Apparently, the "new" way
to go is to have a digital photo taken with an extremely high res camera,
get a large (4" x 5") transparency, and then scan that. I took the art to a
local photo lab. They shot the art with a low-res camera (judging from the
results) and created a 2" x 3" transparency which they scanned onto a disc
for me. The result was terrible: out-of-focus and so blue-toned that I'm
unable to color-correct it (this may be a separate color calibration issue.
If they can give me something that's sharp, I'll ask them for the color
calibration formula they're using and run that through Photoshop). I'm
going back over later this morning to see if they can do better. $63.
I called a reputable photo studio in town. They don't have the super-duper
high res camera but thought they could get me a decent image for $200. I
don't have the budget with this project to go that route but will try them
in the future. I suspect this is a get-what-you-pay-for issue. Some of the
printers I talked to guessed the job could cost as much as $400-500. My
signage clients are generally non-profits working through grants; they
won't be able to afford that kind of price. In fact, $200 is probably too
Another (tedious) method would be for me to scan it in chunks on the Epson
and piece them back together in Photoshop. I've done this before and it's
time consuming. I'd probably charge the client as much to do that as to
have the transparency shot.
Has anyone else run into this issue? Which route did you take to solve it?
Were you pleased with the results? As always, thanks ahead for sharing your
Corvus Art, Natural History Illustration
PO Box 19434
Kalamazoo, MI 49019