What to Look for in a Scanner As An Illustrator Or Artist

What to Look for in a Scanner as an Illustrator or Artist

Illustrators and artists probably have the trickiest time choosing a scanner with which to digitize their work for the World Wide Web. Not only will they need to check general essentials such as scanner speed, software and usability; they’ll also want to make sure their scanner is good enough to show their work in its best light, which means a rich colour depth, crisp edging and accuracy for details.

Whether you perfect your craft using watercolours or inks; design comic strips or fine paintings…you’ll need to choose a scanner carefully if you are set on achieving a result that is professional, clean and impressive.

Common Problems

When illustrators scan their designs or drawings through particular scanners, the outcomes can often be frustrating. Common problems of scanning illustrations include:

  • The fading of colours, or colours looking ‘washed out’ (requiring extra Photoshop adjustments to be made later on)
  • The struggle to get good lighting
  • Lens curvature causing a ‘warping’ of the picture, or unwanted shadowing
  • A slightly grainy quality

It’s important to be using a scanner that can accommodate larger documents and delicate line details in order to capture the essence of your work. Whilst all-in-one scanner-printers are getting more adept at covering all purposes, it’s probably still best to get a dedicated scanner for art and illustration so you can be sure its features will enhance your work.

Features To Consider

When shopping for a reliable scanner, here are some things you’ll need to think about.

Size

A larger scanning area will work to your advantage, particularly if you are scanning larger paintings or prints of A3 size. Whilst most scanners come with an A4 area, minimal edging and a flatbed design will still make it easy to scan more cumbersome pieces in sections and piece together later.

Resolution

The resolution of a scanner is normally written as two numbers (1200 x 2400 for example). You only need to pay attention to the ‘optical’ resolution of your scanner and should focus on the first number only.

A good scan quality will usually only need a resolution of 300 x 600, but bitmap line work will require at least 1200. Get some advice from similar artists or illustrators or surf artist forums to see how they get the best results.

Design

Raised edges or ‘gutters’ within the scanning area could cause unwanted shadowing on your scans, or make it difficult to lay larger pieces completely flat. Look for ones with minimal edging and no protruding elements that could get in the way.

Glass panels also make the process much easier as you can clearly see the section of the work that is to be scanned.

Speed

Speed means less waiting around, and inevitably more productivity on your part. If you have a lot of work to scan on a regular basis, speed is likely to be your priority. Look for a scanner with a USB 2.0 connection if possible for a guaranteed satisfactory scan rate. A FireWire connection will work even better.

Extra Features

It’s useful to know exactly what you’ll be scanning before you shop for a designated scanner, so you can check it has all the features you may need. Will you be scanning transparent materials or film slides? Will it need to be compatible with your current operating system, or other software you use, such as Photoshop? Do you want an easy, fuss-free electronic filing system in place for all of your scans?

Check your scanner’s software features, fax and copy capabilities and any other compatibility elements before you buy.

 

Suggested Scanners

Most illustrators recommend Epson scanners as the brand of choice when it comes to illustration and design. Here are some of the most popular and highly reviewed Epson models for giving you beautiful and immaculate, natural-looking scans.

Epson Perfection 4490

The Epson Perfection 4490 Photo is said to be one of the best flatbed scanners if you have a large batch of film slides you wish to digitize (sized 35mm and 2.25 inch). It offers an impressive 4800 ppi, a colour restore feature and digital ICE dust and scratch removal. Read PC Mag’s full review for more details.

Epson Perfection v600

This model has been recommended by animation and illustration bloggers across the web, and brought about significantly superior results when compared to rivals like the HP Photosmart. Notable elements include its ability to maintain a scan supremely close to its original, rich colour, and a consistent scan quality.

Epson Workforce DS-50000  Colour Document Scanner

This A3, 600 dpi scanner will accommodate larger 11 x 17 sized pieces such as comic book strips, paintings or prints – particularly useful if you not wish to scan your work in small sections.

At £1710, it is the cheapest of its type and comes with a 4 line CCD line sensor for vivid colours and crisp detailing.

Scanner Spotlight: The Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600

When it comes to scanning external resources such as books, magazines and compiled documents, things can get a little tricky. You’ve got feed-in scanners that aren’t any help at all, and then there are the traditional flatbed scanners. While the latter are certainly useful in capturing those favoured pages, they also come with a set of fiddly drawbacks, such as the lid not closing, books being skewed, and page corners being curled under in the squash.

Enter the Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600. If there was a time to convert to the contactless scanner, this baby proves that that time is definitely now. The ScanSnap SV600 makes scanning those heavy or bulkier items a doddle thanks to its overhanging motorised scanner head, under which its black felt mat makes the ideal scanning area for your manuscripts. There’s no annoying shadow like there is with some contactless scanners, and the ScanSnap is capable of handling documents up to A3 size.

Basic Features

So let’s start from the basics. The Fujitsu ScanSnap has a speedy scan rate of 15 ppm, and the result is a clean, crisp 600dpi, with good contrast and no distortion. This makes the scanner perfect for document and book-archiving systems, as well as replicating photography and perhaps even artwork. Its clever depth-of-field calculations enables it to scan (and later correct) curved pages on books up to 30mm thick, and the user can set an interval time between scans to give them time to turn the page (though the ScanSnap can also do this automatically with its page-turning sensor).

The scanner’s black felt mat, as mentioned earlier, makes a great scan base. It removes glare and provides markings for accurate positioning. It is also rubber-backed for firm stability on almost any hard surface.

Software Functions

The ScanSnap is compatible with Windows 7, 8 Vista and XP, and also with Mac OS as well. It comes with free Adobe Acrobat software (standard edition), as well as ABBYY FineReader 8.0. Fujitsu’s ScanSnap Manager allows you to make simple yet effective changes to your scan really easily, popping up as soon as you hit the scan Start button (though some might find this annoying if they plan on using alternative software).

ScanSnap Manager gives you options for all the most basic things you’ll probably want to do with your scan, such as save it as a searchable PDF; print it; send as an email attachment; edit in a Microsoft Office program or move to a cloud storage system like Google Drive or Dropbox. Its editing tool also allows you to conveniently flatten out curved pages and erase visible fingertips that may have been used to hold down page edges. You can also crop your scan, reposition the book centre and fine-tune its edges.

The ScanSnap will impressively automatically detect multiple documents, even when they’re strewn all over the scanner mat. It will create separate documents for each, and align them all perfectly using its anti-skew measures. If scanning a double page, the software will also allow you to indicate where the book’s spine is located, before proceeding to merge the two separate pages into a seamless double page spread.

An additional feature that would no doubt be useful for many people is the scanner’s scan-to-mobile function, which sends a scanned image straight to your tablet. Simply download the Connection Application to your device and enter the IP address of your host PC. Be sure to run the hosting component as you press the scanner’s Start button.

Why Go Contactless?

Contactless scanners are the next generation of scanners allowing us to effortlessly scan books, magazines and even framed photographs or artwork without damaging spines or pages in the process. Because no part of the page is pressed up against the glass (as it would be with a typical flatbed scanner), it generates a smoother image, even when scanning uneven surfaces, like a book with lots of sticky notes.

In the case of the Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600, there is also the bonus of having time to turn pages in between scans, so you don’t need to disturb the scanning process in order to capture multiple pages.

The Best Scanners For Book Scanning

Scanning books is one of the most common reasons for using a scanner. As most photography is now digital, you no longer need to use a scanner to store them on a computer. Most office documents are now sent via email too, meaning Word or PDF files provide a quicker and cheaper option to paper. However, books are something of a different issue.

It’s often difficult to find digital copies of books, and when you do they are rarely free. If there are pages you wish to save to your PC, smartphone or tablet, scanning is really the only option you have. Students might want to do it to save learning resources for assignments or revision; teachers might want to do it to distribute pieces of text around a class.

There is one problem though — it’s hard to find a great scanner for books. As they are large and thick, your standard devices are generally incapable of supporting them. If you wish to scan multiple pages, furthermore, it’s challenging to find a scanner able to perform this at a decent speed. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options out there for scanning books. Here are some of the best that you can purchase.

1. Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600

Fujitsu’s state of the art scanner is groundbreaking for several reasons. For those who want to scan books, it has capacity to work with documents that are up to 30mm in size. This might not allow you to scan the entire hardback of War And Peace, sure, but most books will be able to fit under the device very comfortably. However, the Fujitsu ScanSnap Sv600 is probably most notable for its quality and ease of use. The lens that scans the pages operates from above and has a deep depth of field. It means that it produces a steady and consistent high quality image from edge to edge. The Fujitsu ScanSnap Sv600 also comes with page turning detection to scan automatically when you turn a page and boasts the technology to correct any damage to the images when scanned.

2. Kodak Sceye

Usually when you are scanning a document, you are expected to bring it to the scanner. Kodak’s Sceye puts an interesting spin on this. Designed more like a lamp than a traditional scanning device, functioning with an extendable arm, you can scan documents right off the desk in front of you. You can just take it to the library or arch it over your workspace and simply let the Kodak Sceye do the work. It also comes with auto-scan technology to detect when there’s a new page under the scanner and begin work without prompt.

3. Epson WorkForce DS-50000N

As the name suggests, this Epson scanner is geared more towards workforces than individuals. This means it comes with a hefty price tag and is far from ideal for, say, students residing in their dorm rooms. However, if scanning books is part of your profession and something you do on a regular basis, the Epson WorkForce DS-50000N is hard to beat. It’s a one-touch scanner that can process a page in just four seconds time and at a very high quality. It’s capable of scanning thick and bound pages and comes with a Book Spine Correction technology so that the results are as crisp as the original copy.

Welcome to Photine

Photine is a new website, where we will be passing our opinions on the latest and greatest in the imaging world. Our main expertise is Scanners, but Cameras come a close second.

We hope to give general hints and tips on buying your next scanner, including reviews of the latest products.

Who are we ? We are a group of people working in the imaging sector including Digital and Analogue photographers, and even a scanner sales person. We aim to give full bio’s in the future, so come back soon.

A few of us use scanners to scan our old and new negatives. We also use scanners in a workplace for scanning books and general documents.