04 3 / 2012
How to scan
Getting your art into the computer should be easy. The goal is to translate an image into pixels as simply and cleanly as possible, and make any adjustments in Photoshop.
The screenshots here show Photoshop CS4 and OS X 10.6. Some descriptions might be slightly different for other versions of the software, but the basic ideas carry over.
- Use Image Capture. Scanner drivers are notoriously unreliable, and in most situations OS X’s Image Capture is a simpler, faster way to go. It’s part of every OS X installation, so you don’t have to worry about installing it.
- Place your artwork on the scanner pane before you start Image Capture, because it automatically does an overview scan when it starts. Why waste that precious time?
- Adjust the selection box to fit your artwork. Or, if you’re scanning multiple pieces of a large drawing, scan the whole platen. That way, you don’t have to do an overview scan for every piece.
- I set the resolution to 150 for thumbnails and reference art, and 600 for anything that will survive in the final piece.
- Here are the other default settings I like to use:
I don’t try to massage the image here—it’s easier to change levels, crops, and whatnot in Photoshop.
- Hit scan. Image Capture will automatically number the filenames of multiple scans.
If you have a large drawing, you can scan it in as many pieces as you need, and let Photoshop stitch them together. No more giant scanners! Just make sure each piece overlaps the ones next to it a bit.
- In Photoshop, select File → Automate → Photomerge…
- Select your scanned files, and set Photomerge to “Reposition” so it doesn’t try any perspective oddness.
- Watch Photomerge do its thing, then marvel at the automatic layer masking.
- If everything worked out, select Layer → Flatten image…