How can I make my watercolor scans look good?

  • Hi everyone,
    Whenever I scan my watercolors (with google scan) and then go on to editing in photoshop they look so horrible! I love watercolors and I want to encorporate it in my professional work too. It makes me feel discouraged to see it look completely different and ugly. Is it just because I am not using a proper scanner or I am editing it wrong? The details that look lovely on paper becomes garish on photoshop (Image 3)
    Please help!

    Image 1: This is the one I just took a photo and edited on snapseed to post on my instagram:0_1490518484350_pi.jpg

    Image 2 . Here is the google scan image:0_1490518585096_gs.jpg
    Image 3. And here is the edited one 😢 0_1490518612345_p1.jpg

  • I use an Epson 950 printer/scanner to scan mine, and they seem to be turning out pretty well.

    Make sure you scan at a minimal of 300 dpi.

    You can also play around with levels and curves in photoshop to tweak the colours.

    *Edit: So I think it's probably google scan, though I haven't used it myself.

  • Google Scan is not scanning an image. It is a second generation manipulation. If you want to scan you need a scanner.

    If you want quality scans you need a quality scanner. Look to the specs and purchase as high a quality scanner as you can but don;t be fooled by "interpolation", go for actual scan resolution.

    A few things you need to know - your monitor is RGB which is a different color gamut (range) than printing which is cmyk. You need to make sure your monitor is calibrated. If you have an apple computer there is a basic calibration tool in your settings>>displays.

    When you scan do some test scans of solid colors, a clean yellow, red, etc. And make adjustments to the color settings in your scanner software. After that scan your artwork. If it is for reproduction work the minimum it should be is 300dpi at the reproduction size. If you work twice the reproduction size, than you can scan at 150dpi.

    Remember, you can always reduce the resolution of an image but you can never add detail back by increasing the resolution.

  • @jimsz @Sliproot
    Wow so much to learn! Thanks so much for your reply. Til I get a scanner, I better stick to digital painting.

  • Maybe you have a library nearby? I don't know where you live or how the libraries work there, but over here almost all of them has scanners one can borrow.
    Before I had my own scanner(and internet) I used to bike back and forth almost every day with my paintings. It took up a lot of time, but it's so nice to hang out in the library anyways, so it was very worth it. Just a bit panicky when I had a deadline on a sunday but they're closed on the weekends.
    Oh, and the scanner I have now, I found it! If you live nearby an office or something, try checking out their dumpsters once in a while. It's not unusual that they just throw out that kind of stuff, even if it works perfectly 🙂

  • @Embla Yes I have been thinking about it. There are some print/photocopy shops that have scanners. Going to the shop every time I finish a piece can get hectic though. I think I will go after I finish a couple...and see how I can work around it.
    Thanks so much for the dumpster idea too! I wouldn't mind but I cannot access office dumpsters.

  • scanners are not that expensive to begin with. so I would save up for one and get it when you get a chance. 🙂 or even check a place like craigslist.

Log in to reply