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How to Reproduce Your Art & Make it Digital - Part I: Scanning

Flatbed scanning of artwork

Need more room for all those paintings to hang on your wall? I'm in the same boat, so when I finish a painting, I do a 300-dpi scan of it to create a digital file. Home scanners are typically good at doing this, but if your artwork is large, you must find someone with a large-format flatbed scanner or take a high-resolution photograph that isn't blurry or doesn't bow on the sides. Practice makes perfect!

I try to stick with painting on canvas, boards, wood, and paper in 12x12 or smaller, and if your flatbed on your copier/scanner doesn't fit the entire artwork, you will need a program where you have several scans showing all the painting and then merge it. I use Photoshop, and it works great! 

If your artwork is larger and you can't make scans of all the artwork on your home printer/scanner, then there are alternative ways to do it. First, I would advise finding someone who has a business doing large format art scanning. They usually turn out great with the details of the colors in your painting. Normally, they will give you a digital copy of it by downloading it from their site or giving you some type of electronic copy. Sometimes they will make a small print so you can see how it looks printed on paper or canvas. I suggest contacting a local art club in the area for recommendations. If it can be done locally, they would know.

If you find no one locally or fail at getting a recommendation for someone who offers the above service, why not go to a company that offers printing services. They will have scanners and charge you for the scans. Ask if they have scanners that have good color profiles for artwork.

Last, if you have a good camera or cellular phone that takes high resolution photographs you can take a picture of your artwork. I would try and lay it flat with a tripod that holds your camera straight down and take the picture. Make sure there is no light glare on it. If you don't have a tripod, then put the picture facing you at your height, straight up, taking the picture making sure you get all sides in. Do not take the photograph where you will have to crop out a lot of the background around it because you will lose resolution and you don't want to do that!  When you go to reproduce it, it is better to have a high-resolution image that will reproduce a large, clear image, than one that is a low resolution and not clear. The more cropping you must do, the lower the resolution.

If you have a cellular phone with the most awesome picture capabilities that are being offered now, well, you can use it instead of a professional camera. I prefer a 35 mm camera, but that is me. If you are using your artwork for small projects, a cell phone would work just fine.

These are some things that I do for my artwork. Next in Part 2 we will discuss things you can do with your digital artwork once you have converted your artwork.


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