Other than photography, scanning is another excellent way of transforming your physical documents into digital art. Though it’s easy to scan regular documents, transporting a larger piece of art can be a challenge, and it calls for creativity and keenness. So, how can you scan large artwork?
When handling larger artwork, all you need to do is scan it in sections. Just divide the artwork into sections and scan each at a time—no need to tear your work.
How to Scan Large Artwork with a Flatbed Scanner
Before you proceed;
- Ensure your flatbed scanner is installed correctly and connected to a computer
- Before starting the flatbed scanner, clean its glass with a glass cleaner or a clean damp cloth and dry thoroughly.
Choose Your Editing Software
There are varieties of software to choose from. But with this kind of work, we recommend Adobe Photoshop for its compatibility with most files to import or export and its simplicity.
Nevertheless, you can go for any other software you are conversant with. For instance, CorelDraw, Capture One, and Luminar are ideal choices you can go for. And in your selection, ensure the program you want to use supports the file you intend to use, be it PCX, TIFF, BMP, etc.
Additionally, your program should be able to work in layers. It should be able to work on complex jobs and not support just standard photo editing features. Ensure also that your computer handles your program of choice reliably.
While CorelDraw is easier and lighter to work with, Photoshop, on the other hand, is more resource-demanding and thus requires a fast machine choice; therefore, you should go with how fast your computer is; choose CorelDraw for a slow one.
Prepare and Test the Scanner and Software
Once you select the software and the scanner is clean and dry, you’ll need to prepare them for the scanning task. Follow these steps;
- Connect your scanner to the computer and power
- Change the scanner’s settings to as many dpi and resolution as possible and test the functionality with an image, portrait, or a segment of your artwork.
- Ensure the test portrait or image is saved on your computer and check whether it’s in the correct format. If not, you may be required to download the scanner’s software or install it directly from the manual system. Doing this only takes a few minutes of your time.
- Once the correct format is set, open your artwork using the editing software. Note that one software may open your file while another may fail, so use the compatible one.
- Once you ensure the image opens correctly, then the testing is perfect, and you can proceed to scan
Proceed to Scan
This third step is where you’ll need all your focus and keenness. You need to divide the artwork into segments without repeating the sections and ensure everything goes accordingly. This will eventually help you easily stitch them into one image for perfect results.
We elaborate on this in the following steps;
- Figure out how you desire to divide your work for scanning. This should give you a clear mental map that will set you going. For instance, a 50 by 50 inches artwork can be scanned in 5 parts of 5 by 10 inches for a scanner this size.
- With the section figured out, align up the artwork on the scanner. You do this by placing it flat and face down on the scanner’s glass. The artwork should line up with the glass borders and lay as flat as possible on the glass.
- Ensure that each section you scan corresponds with the others and don’t repeat any part. You may need to overlap for easy stitching without leaving out any details.
- Now, check that everything aligns up correctly and save the file. Always preview your work, and if everything is light, press the scan button. If the artwork doesn’t display correctly in the preview, adjust it before scanning.
- If all is well, save the file on your computer. Save all the sections in the same folder, making it easier for you to edit later. Ensure the format too is correct a then all is done. You have finished scanning and can edit and stitch your artwork.
Take a Look at The Scan Files
This step calls you to move to the computer to confirm whether your scanning was a success and make any necessary edits. You’ll need to follow the following steps;
- Click open your editing software.
- From the scanner, open the files containing your artwork. Identify the folder in which you saved them and open each section as you view whether they are correct.
- Note that most programs, including Adobe Photoshop, will allow you to open each section as an individual task. View them individually before combining them.
- Ensure each section is neat. You may notice a few parts overlapping, which is okay; you can cut them later. Also, note that at this point, some art may need to be rotated, cropped, or re-sized as they may be all over the place. Edit them accordingly.
- Remember not to alter the resolution and DPI or don’t create a vast difference if cropping or re-sizing. Do away with any window that suggests quality changes, as may be the case with some programs. Some programs are set to change all files to a specific resolution, and unless you omit such a prompt, the file will be altered, and the sizes may change.
- Finally, you can stitch your artwork together if all the sections are in order and you are through with the edits.
Stitch Your Work Together
This step can pose some challenges, and it calls for patience for satisfying results. Nevertheless, it’s not rocket science, and you’ll be done if you are keen. Follow these steps;
- Now that you have made the necessary edits on each file view them well to see how they should fit precisely and smoothly.
- Open a new page on the editing program so you can import your scanned files for easy stitching. Ensure to set a background that doesn’t correspond with your artwork for clear viewing
- Import/upload each section on the project as an individual layer. If you divide your art into 5 sections, you’ll work with 5 layers. Ensure that you do not merge the layers until you are through.
- Now that each layer is edited and aligned, you can start to stitch them together from the new project. Change the layers’ opacity accordingly; it can be 50% or other as you desire. Adjusting the opacity helps to move each section individually and with clarity easily.
- Arrange each layer on the project and change the opacity to 100% simultaneously after placing them right. Patiently align and stitch the sections using the mouse and arrow keys without leaving gaps or overlapping areas. Remember not to merge any part.
- Continue stitching and editing until you achieve an artwork that resembles the original one. You don’t necessarily need to add any special effects.
Finalize and Save
After you have aligned all the sections on the project and adjusted the opacity, now you can stitch any remaining parts. Once you’re satisfied with the results, follow these steps;
- Identify the option that allows you to merge the sections into a single image (also known as ‘flatten’ on Photoshop). Different programs may give this option another name, so check the name used in your editing program.
- Since you have merged the image, view it closely and remove any excess bits. For instance, there could be traces of the background color or dots on the artwork. Re-size the artwork where necessary without altering the resolution and DPI.
- Pay a close look as you edit to ensure that the colors do not change. Altering the colors will need you to make more edits. Leave the artwork if you’re unsure how to go about it.
- Finally, save the image in your preferred format. TIFF, BMP, and PCX are the commonly used formats that maintain quality and excerpt little compression. You are done scanning a large artwork.
As you can see from the above steps, scanning large artwork is not as hard, but it requires effort and patience. Nevertheless, the results are worth the time if you follow everything right. There aren’t other methods to scan larger artworks unless you can access an industrial scanner, which can be tough and expensive.
So, if you follow our steps keenly, you are sure to get a precise image of the original artwork. Just split the artwork into different sections, scan each separately, then stitch it together to produce digital art that resembles the physical piece. Enjoy transporting your physical document to digital life.