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How to Scan and Digitalize Artwork?An Ultimate Guide to Scanning Artwork

The internet era has put new demands and challenges on all industries, and artists can no longer just immerse themselves in creation. For example, getting command of the digitalization of artworks has been vital, for this technique is necessary for your art recreation, work compilation, resume, etc. Troubled by the trivia of scanning your drawings and paintings? Or even have no clue how to get started? Here comes this post! 

Now let us walk through every detail of scanning and digitalizing artworks.  Whether an art amateur or an artist, you can get some beneficial info from this post. 

Why Should You Digitalize Your Artwork?

For amateurs, the digitalization of art pieces preserves their painstaking efforts better. On the other hand, artists can reap more benefits from digitalizing their works, including enlarging the influence of artwork and earning extra money. Artworks contain their authors’ profound thoughts and creativity. In the past, they could only inspire and touch people in front of the manuscripts. However,  these pieces now can strike a chord with someone thousands of miles away via their digital files. Moreover, artists access other income sources after digitalizing their works. No one knows better than artists that however hard it is to earn a living only by commissions of originals.

How to Scan Your Artwork?

The first step to digitalizing your drawings and paintings is to get a quality scan. To achieve this goal, you need to get some tricks and make full preparations.

Things You Should Know about Scanning

First of all, acquaint yourself with scanners and software.

  • Do not scan a work of color with grayscale or black/white. This happens when the color mode is not the default setting.
  • DPI, dots per inch, refers to the resolution of the image. To capture more details, you should scan your artwork at a high DPI. Try not to change the DPI in the editing software, or the image may get some distortion. 
  • Sometimes, third-party software may provide better effects than those outfitted by the scanner. Maybe scanner manufacturers grasp less special skills in developing software.
  • Output the digital file in a proper format. A TIF, or TIFF is a lossless form of file that fits scans for editing and printing. It has larger sizes than JPEG and PGN for the storage of some detailed information, such as layers and transparency. Moreover, it is compatible with most editing software or platforms and turns out to be less compressed after you resave it. You can output your images in JPG or PNG when you do not print them later (their support of transparency and CMYK leave a lot to be desired). However, they lose some quality every time you save it.
  • You had better edit and modify your painting on the editing software rather than the scanning software. 

The Best scanners for Scanning Artwork at Home

A quality scanner to a scan is what morning coffee to your morning -You can make it without a refreshing coffee but the drowsiness steals over your body afterward overwelingly. Also, while a cheap office machine combined with scanning and printing seems like a tempting option, it is really unadvisable for its lack of professional properties. It may lead to a pixelated or blurred printer of the scan. Do not know how to select the best scanner? Start from the following aspects.

  • CIS vs CCD scanners

These 2 types of scanners are equipped with different photosensitive elements. CCD scanners can retain the effect of some textured pigments and papers, such as 3D paintings, acrylic paintings, watercolors and textile arts. That being so, CCD machines capture the hues of your work more precisely. However, if your artwork is completely flat, the CIS scanner can fulfill all your needs at an economical price(especially for sketchers). 

  • Range of DPI

Realistically, the scanner can not allow you to scan up to its reported maximum DPI. It is regarded that a scanner for digital artwork should take scans up to at least 300 DPI. However,for some artists, image resolution is more important and 300 DPI is far from adquate. For example, they may scan their artworks of A4 size and then reproduce them into immense posters. And for others, high image resolution does no bad. So choose a scanner that can scan at a high DPI. Particularly, those who reproduce or recreate their works in huge sizes should select one of at least 1200. 

  • The largest size of the scanning area

You should check the area size that the scanner can scan and see if it is in line with your needs for digital files and can give your artwork a full scan.

  • Professional mode

In some cases, the scanner does not pick light colors correctly in the default mode. Thus, you had better pick a scanner with a professional mode. Maybe, it is not handy for beginners, but it leaves some flexibility for your future use.

All in all, the scanner of high caliber best for you should have a suitable photosensitive element, high DPI value, proper scanning area and a professional mode. Abandon the machines fitting office work and get one that scans your artwork as true to life as possible.  

A step-by-step Instruction on Artwork Scanning

Step 1: Prep the scanner.

  • Clean your scanner with a damp cloth and absorbent paper and make sure there is no dirt on the lens.
  • Connect it with the software.

Step 2: Prep the software.

  • Tune some parameters based on your work and expected result, including “Scan Mode”, “Kind”, etc. These values may be named differently in different facilities. Have a thorough read of the instruction book and communicate with the after-sales when necessary.
  • Set the highest scanning quality your facilities can reach if you are not definitely sure about the use of the scans (you can not avoid the loss of quality later, so the higer, the better). Otherwise, just set the proper value, such as 75 DPI for screen only and at least 300 DPI for printing and further recreation.

  • Choose the appropriate file format.

Step 3: Place your artwork and preview the effects.

Lay your artwork flat on the panel, and check if it is docile on the glass and has no perking or floating. Align the actual print area with the edges of the scanner in parallel. Then, click the “Preview” on the software, and check the size, hue and resolution of image. If not up to your needs, make more adjustment. Repeat this process until you get what you want.

Tip: Be cautious about using the palette tools above the “Preview” click. For veterans, trim your sails at your ease. But for novices, changing the colors/brightness in PS is easier and more effective for you.

Step 4: Take the scan and check the result.

Step 5:Save the file. Chech the extension again especially you have further editing. 

How to Scan A Large Artwork?

Most home flatbed scanners have a scanning panel slightly larger than A4 papers. How about a large artwork? Fret not, you can save the daylight robbery of the scanning bureau by scanning divided pieces and then stitching them together. Here is a trick, you should arrange each piece a bit overlapping with neighbors. In that way, you can line up them in the editing software in perfect alignment. To stitch the full image, you can try several and compare the effects. Almost all the editing software, even the basic MS Paint de facto has the function. Take PS for example, you can find the photo merge tool through “File” > “Automate”, then untick “blend” to get a natural feel and then take a “browse” to pick all the pieces. After being done with some necessary adjustments, choose the “Flatten Image” to glue the pieces together. 

How to Edit Your Artwork?

Since we have mentioned some editing work above, you may have sensed its importance. Playing around with editing software to get the exact effect you want is time-consuming, and intriguing, but full of toil.  Here is a universal process of editing artwork scanners. I hope you can get some reference from this.

  • Step 1: Open your scan in the software.
  • Step 2: Crop the image. You can modify the size or do away with unwanted areas in this step.
  • Step 3: Add layers. You had better make all your adjustments on the added layers so that you can do them while seeing if they fit and your original scan remains unchanged.

  • Step 4: Adjust the lightness. If you want to tweak the brightness of all the images, turn to the menu bar and find Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Move the sliders for these 2 values to get your desired effect. Also notice, do not increase too much contrast, or the image will be dark. If you want to only modify a part of the image, resort to the Curve tool. Also, you can use the droop tool in “highlights” to change the unsatisfied part without affecting other deep hues.
  • Step 5: Remove the undesired color tone. Sometimes, your scan may be slightly yellowish or bluish as a result of improper lighting. You can rid the image of the unwanted hue by the Hue/Saturation adjustment. Add a layer special for this work and make adjustments until your artwork recovers its intended hue.
  • Step 6: Save the image. Save it in a TIFF format for printing or further recreation. However, if the image is for Instagram or Pinterest only, click “File” > “Export ” instead. In this box,  you can again adjust the image size but do not need to change the DPI, for it automatically changes the value to the default setting suitable for internet spread.

What Sinosilk Can Do for You?

Are you planning to recreate your artwork or work with brands? Confused by those parameters and specifications? Daunted by the steep fee of a professional print shop?  Come to Sinosilk!

Sinosilk has collaborated with thousands of artists of great renown for many years. We are expertised in providing the finest raw materials for the textile art, such as 100% silk, silk blends, cotton, modal, wool, viscose, tencel.  We all provide extra services for those who want to custom fabrics and products with their own design and patterns. If work with us, you just need to offer an intact photograph or scan with no harsh glare or dark shadow, we can help you to recreate and reproduce your artwork. We have professional technicians who can help you reduce the outside influences of lighting and fuzz, and skilled designers who assist in the tedious post-work of PS editing. 


What Is DPI in Printing?

DPI stands for “dots per inch”, indicating that every inch of the printed image has how many ink droplets.  It measures the clarity and integrity of a picture(how much it contains details of the original version). The higher the DPI, the better is the resolution of the final image. Typically, 300 DPI is acknowledged as the benchmark for printing a clear and high-quality image.

How to Change PPI in Photoshop?

PPI is the abbreviation of “pixels per inch”. It refers to how many pixels make up every inch of the image. Besides, it is used to measure the image resolution on the screen. To change PPI, open your image in Photoshop and then go to Image > Image Size. Second, make sure the “Resample” option is not selected. At last, modify the value of “resolution” and click OK.

How to Scan Paintings?

First, sort out what facilities you need based on the painting and your expected effects. What is the size of your painting? Does it need to be scanned by pieces? Is it of colors or black and white? Are there any texture or effects slightly standing out the flat you want to reserve (3D paints or textured papers) ? If get all your want, scan your painting following the above instructions. Pay attention, paintings usually show delicate texture, light and shadow, sense of layers, and other visual effects. Try your best not to omit one feature in your scanning. 

How to Scan Artwork With A Phone?

Actually, it is hard to get a quality artwork scan with a phone. But there are some points you can take a notice. First, find a professional mobile app  for scanning. You can try those equipped with editing tools first. Second, turn on the “Grid” if your phone has. It can be set in the “Settings“ app. Via this mode, you can correct angles in scanning and crop the scanner easily in the editing. Third, scan at a place with good natural light (artificial lighting is inferior to natural light), but do not overexpose the artwork. At last, run your phone parallel to the artwork. With all of these things down, you can never fail to get a medium-quality scan.

Where to Scan Large Artwork?

You can turn to a scanning bureau or print shop with professional equipments. And it is easier to find these around a college of fine art.

Are There Any Alternatives to Photoshop?

Of course. You can find countless alternatives to Photoshop, such as Affinity Photo, GIMP, Capture One, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate, Pixlr X, Luminar Neo, etc. However, people have various reasons for finding an alternative. Someone is tired of downloading while others may take the fee of software as waste. You can first sort out why you need an alternative, what editing effects you want and how to edit it to reach your prospect. Then check the functions of each alternative and select the one best for you. Here is a comparison of some hot software for your reference.

Free of charge No download Works on windows and mac Easy to handle Professional functions
Affinity Photo
Pixlr X
Luminar Neo AI tool without subdividing functions
Adobe Photoshop Elements

RGB vs CMYK? RGB or CMYK for printing?

These 2 color modes are applied in different areas, RGB on screen and CMYK in printing. For artists, another important point is that RGB has a wider color gamut.


I hope this post offers insights into scanning and digitalization of artwork for you, clearing up some myths. As to this meaningful and profitable work, you should get suitable facilities and know the parameters impacting the result. After that, skill comes with practice and you can be an adept at this soon. If you aspire to textile art or want to recreate your art on textiles, come with us and we can be your trustworthy partner! 

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