Scanning a double-page sketchPosted: April 8, 2016
I received an email today from someone asking me about how I scan my work, and instead of answering her by email, she suggested I do a post about it. Great idea, since I am often asked how I scan my daily sketches.
I have an Epson Perfection V600 Photo flatbed scanner (there’s probably a newer model on the market now) which sits on my desk, right next to my computer. I use it to scan almost everything including 1/4 sheet watercolours (11″ x 15″) but if something is larger than that, I will photograph it. If it’s a double-page sketch like this one I did as a workshop demo in Palmetto Bluff last month, I have to scan it in two parts. I always scan in high resolution (300 ppi) tiff format in case I need the better resolution for printing sometime in the future.
The sketchbook in this example is 8.25″ square, so a double page like this is over 16″ wide. It can’t be scanned in one pass. I start by scanning both halves of the sketch separately. The images you see below are what I see when I open the initial scans in Photoshop. Now here’s my disclaimer: I am by no means a Photoshop expert! I do my best to get my scans to look like what’s in the sketchbook and I’m happy if I can match that.
The next thing I do is use the Photomerge option in Photoshop. It’s under the File >Automate menu in Photoshop CC. You can see from the scans above that the images are crooked, but Photoshop is smart enough to put together the two halves and align all pixels that are the same, so you don’t have to straighten anything first.
The next step is when I straighten and crop, and then I flatten the two layers of the image. Sometimes the rounded corners of the sketchbook show up so I either crop a little tighter, or use the clone tool to get rid of that. What I am left with is an image that is close to finished but it looks a little FLAT. The contrast is low and the whites may not be bright enough.
The final step is to add a Levels Adjustment Layer. This opens a histogram that allows me to brighten up the whites a little and darken the darks (see the final image below). Start to finish, the whole process, including a few minutes of scanning time, takes no more than 10 minutes. I save my final high resolution tiff image in my archives, and then save a 72 ppi image for web. If I need the better quality image for printing, I will zoom in on the image and clean it up, but for my quick sketches, this is all the time I have and it seems to work perfectly well.