How to digitising watercolour/ink wash artwork

  • Hi, I want to make some art prints with my inktober pieces this year. I ran into some issues with digitizing the artwork. Some research on internet made me realised everyone has different equipment and methods for doing this. Here are some questions that may help me to figure out how to do it right for me.

    1. What is a "Good Enough" scanner for scanning artworks.
      I only have access to a normal office scanner (a scanner that is part of a laser printer) conviniently. I can set the scanner DIP up to 1200. Is this good enough? or do I really need a professional artist scanner - (what is a professional scanner? what should I be looking for? )

    2. I came accross this article at kidlitartists blog (from 2014).
      Does anyone has experience of the methods mentioned in this article for watercolor scanning?

    3. Since my original is no bigger than A4, I decide to go with scanning. But again, the paper i used is cold press watercolor paper, and it does have a lot of texture. Would it work better if I photograph the artwork instead? Does anyone has a simple guide to photograph artworks?

  • @xin-li I have some experience of this. You're right that photographing can help to bring out texture. Doing it well requires careful lighting above all else because it's really easy to unbalance things. If you do go the photography route you can use a lightbox to soften the light sources, which is generally good practice, but you'll want a subtle directional light of some sort to bring up the texture. You can make a workable lightbox, there are many tutorials out there explaining how to do it. If you want your images to be larger in pixel size than a single frame can manage you can shoot the work in segments and combine them using the Photomerge function in Photoshop. I use that a lot, it does a great job.

  • @bugeyefly thank you for the tip. I think I will have to digg into photographying route later to compare with scanning result, as I need the files digitalized in a short notice. I will go experiment with scanning and phtoshop magic, and see what I end up. Will give teh community a report on the result if anyone is interested in hearing.

  • Pro

    @xin-li I've been working with a standard Canon Lide 120. It's not a bad scanner but nothing to write home about. I compensate by making adjustments in Photoshop to clean and get the colors just right. And that works! A better scanner would be great, but it's not an absolute necessity. I scan at 300 dpi usually, or if I want to enlarge the original for the print version, then 600 dpi.

  • @xin-li I have an epson v600 that I like for watercolors. the epson scanner drivers yield a slight magenta cast, which I don’t like. I found an inexpensive scanning software called Vuescan by hamrick software that allows me to tweak variables like color easily.

  • Thank you for the tips @NessIllustration @BichonBistro.
    Does anyone know what specs I should pay attention when comes to scanners? I have no clue if the HP office laser printer+scanner (HP laserjet pro mfp m277dw) that I have is as good as Canon Lide 120 for example.

    And what is difference between Epson v600 and Canon lide 120 in terms of image quality? - is it Epson v600 gives much higher DPI (6400 dpi)? but if one uses a scanner to scan artworks that needs only 600dpi, does Canon and Epson gives similar quality when both scanner set to be 600dpi?

    I found Scanner world rather confusing. Any tech wizard+art geek here who can help me out?

  • @xin-li they all make exaggerated claims about their resolution. If you get good quality at 350dpi that is usually all you need. I just did a quick search on “Epson V600 compare canon” and it looks like the equivalent canon model is a 9000F.

    I would search for what other watercolor artists use. Here is a link to an article comparing the V600 and 9000F and the canon 9000F wins:

    @Chip-Valecek do you know what tech specs to look for when scanner shopping?

  • @xin-li if you do go the photo route. Don't forget to get a linear polariser for your lights/flash and a circular polariser for your camera. That'll solve any unwanted reflections, glare and improve contrast.

  • @BichonBistro thanks. I think I might be able to afford a budget scanner next year. Epson Perfection V39 sounds like something that will do the job.

    @sigross I do have a semi professional dslr camera with some good lens lying around. But what I miss is lights, and extra stuff such as circular polariser etc. I will experiment with the photo route later. Thansks for the tip.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @BichonBistro unfortunately I don't have a scanner and not really familiar with them.

  • @xin-li it does sound good and I like the idea of a removable lid 👍🏻

  • I don't have a scanner at home, so I've tried using scanners at FedEx Office and Staples at 300 dpi. I've never liked how my images come out after being scanned. I much prefer the photo look, since (like it's been mentioned) brings out the texture nicely.

    This is a great tutorial on how to to take good art photographs:

    Afterwards I fix any gradation digitally in Krita (I don't have Photoshop)

    Here's a tutorial for that in Photoshop:

    Hope this helps! 😃

  • @Daisy hei, thank you so much for the links.
    Althought they do not answer my immeditate questions which are about making fine art prints, I did pick up some very useful tips from both videos which will come handy in the future. Thank you.

    I ended up with using my office scanner, and using the Scanning Trick mentioned in this article. I hope it will come out fine. Will get my test prints on Friday (first time doing Fineart print - giclee print). Really excited.

  • Does anyone know what specs I should pay attention when comes to scanners? I have no clue if the HP office laser printer+scanner (HP laserjet pro mfp m277dw) that I have is as good as Canon Lide 120 for example.

  • Years ago I brought my artwork to a print shop and they would scan it and print it out on canvas or paper and provide me with the digital version on a CD. I would probably contact a good print shop and ask them what you should do today.

  • @deborah-Haagenson This is where I use to go. I realize you may not live anywhere near them, I don't either any more,but you might be able to contact them and get your questions answered. They have a website too.

    Image Source
    4532 Telephone Rd # 111, Ventura, CA 93003
    (805) 676-1000

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