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Scanning Original Artwork...

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KimFrey

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Hello Folks!

I'm just venturing into illustration, and have some questions about scanning original artwork! Is there a recommended scanning resolution? (how many dpi's?) Also, how much border do you leave around the original artwork, to leave some room for printing process? Are there any questions about scanning that I should be asking?


Currently I'm working on some papercut illustrations for (I think) an 8 1/2" trim. Not sure if I should cut my black background to the exact size, or leave it larger for cropping. I'm VERY green at all this, and have a new printer/scanner/copier that I'm trying to figure out. Adds to the thrill, I guess, but I'm definitely feeling like the proverbial "Old Dog."

Thanks!
Kim :-)
#1 - January 25, 2010, 06:52 AM

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Maybe there is someone here with a bit more knowledge, but I believe the resolution for submitting is preferred at 300 DPI. However, if my work is scanned at Fed/Ex Kinkos as 300 dpi, I lose a lot of my fine details. So, I have it scanned at 600, work the piece. and reduce the dpi when the work is completed.
#2 - January 25, 2010, 07:32 AM
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It's been a while since I took pre-press in college and a lot can change in 6 years, but if you are scanning for submitting a dummy or for attaching jpeg examples, I'm not sure it matters too much as long as it's a fair representation of your work. 300 dpi is probably fine. When your illustrations go to print for a book, your original artwork is sent to the publisher. The printer uses a drum scanner. Big expensive scanner (we're talking a machine that goes for a few hundred thousand dollars). Artwork needs to be flexible for this scanner, as the artwork gets wrapped around a cylinder and spun. For illustrators who work in collage and other mediums that are stiff and won't flex and have 3D type detail, they are photographed like in the old days. I remember hearing that soft pastel work can't be scanned on a drum scanner either as the centrifugal force will actually throw the chalk dust right off the page. Eek.

As I said, it's been a while and for all I know the printing methods have changed. Maybe someone more in the know will comment as well.

As for cropping, if your illustration is meant to cover the whole page, then I'd definitely leave a bleed. When your image is imported into the print document the image will need to fill slightly more (usually 9 pt, I think) than the trim size. In case of a slight misalignment you won't end up with an unwanted white edge to the page.
#3 - January 25, 2010, 09:20 AM
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Kim,

Good answers so far, but I have a question for you: Are you asking for general information, or are you working on a book with a publisher? If you're working on a book, then ask the art director, who will give you guidance about how much bleed to allow for, what to do about the gutter area, etc., as well as this particular question.
#4 - January 25, 2010, 11:20 AM
Harold Underdown

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300 dpi will probably be fine for anything you're doing at home. You can always scan a few times at different resolutions to see what you prefer.

Also, for large format work, I've been using a plain ol' digital camera. I spent a lot of time worrying about getting a large bed scanner, but actually, with the ease of working with digital files now, sometimes it's way easier to take a high resolution photo.
#5 - January 25, 2010, 12:54 PM

KimFrey

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Wow! I was really surprised to see so many answers so quickly!

I'm playing around with an idea I have for a book... to see if I could illustrate a story with papercuttings. I'm not working with a publisher at present, but may possibly submit it to one. So I guess they were pretty general questions, but I'm getting some great specific advice!

 I usually mount my papercuttings loosely on matboard, so a drum scanner would be a little scary!  :faint My new scanner can scan at much higher resolution than my old one, and I wasn't sure what is standard. I guess one concern would be that if I mounted things without enough bleed or "edge," or scanned them incorrectly, I'd have to re-do a lot of work.

Thanks so much everyone! :thankyou

#6 - January 25, 2010, 08:33 PM

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I'm playing around with an idea I have for a book... to see if I could illustrate a story with papercuttings. I'm not working with a publisher at present, but may possibly submit it to one.

Are you making a dummy for a ms you've written? You might want to check out some of the threads on submitting a dummy. You don't need to have finished artwork for the whole book, just 2-3 finished pieces to show what your work is like. The dummy is made up of polished sketches to show what your ideas are for the rest of the illustrations. After being accepted the text may need revisions which might impact the illustrations, as well as the AD may want changes to some of the illos themselves. Also the finished size of the book may change to what you had in mind. If you have already done finished artwork for the whole book, this could mean a lot of extra work for you, and the editor/AD might think you wouldn't be willing to make necessary changes.

If this book is for your portfolio, and not for submitting for publishing, then a series of finished work showing how you handle characters, emotion, perspective etc through an entire book is a great thing to have. A lot of illustrators will illustrate a well known folk or fairy tale for their portfolio.

#7 - January 26, 2010, 09:35 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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 I usually mount my papercuttings loosely on matboard, so a drum scanner would be a little scary!  :faint My new scanner can scan at much higher resolution than my old one, and I wasn't sure what is standard. I guess one concern would be that if I mounted things without enough bleed or "edge," or scanned them incorrectly, I'd have to re-do a lot of work.





If you are working in photoshop, it's fairly easy to enlarge your canvas size and put borders on pieces. Like you, I scan my images. A change in lighting in the room can effect an image from a digital camera . . . something I noticed when I was showing a work in progress on my blog. I used digital pic's . . . when I compare them to the image after scanning, there is a pretty big difference. However, with collage art, digital seems to be preferred as it doesn't compress all the work . . . and the shadows show the textures. What works best for your medium and for your preference is great.

What Artemesia said about the book dummy is straight on. You want to show that you can keep your characters consistent, handle pacing, show a range of perspectives and emotions, but only two to thee full color renderings are needed.  I just got done revising one of my main characters throughout an entire book dummy. If they would have been full color renderings . . . it would have been a HUGE ugh.
#8 - January 26, 2010, 01:57 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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A change in lighting in the room can effect an image from a digital camera . . .

When I took fine arts in college one of my instructors advised us when documenting our work to photograph it outside at midday on a clear day to avoid weird effects from artificial light and unwanted shadows. If photographing works best for your chosen medium, this might be worth a try.


#9 - January 26, 2010, 02:52 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
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That's good to know. I'll try it during more seasonal weather. But it's been mostly  :rain :snow :tornado So the pic's I took of my illstrations didn't fare well in the indoor lighting.

I just had a scan done via drum scanner for the first time. It was a large piece. I usually keep my work within the 11 x 17 dimensions, but I went a bit larger. In the past for my fine art, I had it scanned by a high end print shop at a high end price. I couldn't do that because of our budget. So I took my last piece to Fed/Ex Kinkos and had it scanned on their drum scanner at less than half the price. The art fared well, but there were some lines that went through part of the image in the file. It was an easy fix with my clone key. But, I still had to fix it. Thank goodness the art went through it unscathed.
#10 - January 26, 2010, 05:18 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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m_stiefvater

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I know many high-end scanners are wicked awesome, but when I was a full time author and pulled prints from my artwork, I had a camera with a bumload of megapixels that I used to get accurate representations. I also tweaked them in Photoshop (keeping in mind that with each save, you're losing data from the original file). It really depends on what you're using it for, as others have said. I had a very, very hard time getting my flatbed scanner to do some color accurately. There are some photographers that will charge you a flat fee to photograph a whole bunch of your pieces at once too.
#11 - January 26, 2010, 06:13 PM

KimFrey

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Scanning does seem to work the best for the papercuttings. However, my brother is a photography nut, and would love to play around with photographing artwork... I'll have to put him to work! This first stuff is probably portfolio work... I've considered putting the story up on my blog, day by day, as part of a portfolio. Has anyone ever done something like that?

Thanks... and what great advice! I'm soaking it all in!

Kim :-)
#12 - January 30, 2010, 04:47 PM

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Hi Kim,

Sounds like a fun project you've got going. While folks have provided some great answers, I'm compelled to suggest a few more considerations as I used to work as a production artist doing pre-press work (both traditional and digital). Plus, I've had my artwork shot through reflex photography and scanned via flatbed and drum scanner...

-- Decide the final output (or usage) of your images and base your dpi on that. If you'd like to someday produce a larger, fine art reproduction (or high quality giclee) of your image then go with as high resolution as necessary. A service bureau can go upwards of 2400 dpi and above. Here's a site that may address some of your technical questions about scanning: http://www.scantips.com/

-- Keep master copies (and/or a master disc) of your Raw art files. Never "touch" them. Work from digital copies.

-- Once you scan or take photos of your artwork, you'll need to clean and modify the images for the best result--that usually means employing a good photo manipulation program like Photoshop or the consumer version of it (not sure of the name). Having the art scanned or photographed is just the beginning of the process ;-).

-- You may be able to get away with using a flatbed scanner for your collage work if you have Photoshop CS3 or CS4 (maybe even CS2?) because there is a feature that merges pieces of an "oversized" image together (oversize in relation to the scanner footprint). I've used it quite successfully in my work.

I hope some of this info helps, Kim! Good luck w/ your project!

OMT, it's your choice as to whether you want to post your images online but I'd encourage you to think strategically about which image you'd want to share given the fact that people lift stuff from the 'net all the time and if you have your heart set on subbing the art as part of a book dummy are you sure you want to post *all* of it? Remember, there is an art to presentation, as well as, the art itself.

Cheers,
Edna  :hangloose


#13 - January 30, 2010, 07:04 PM
« Last Edit: January 30, 2010, 11:56 PM by ecm »
Forthcoming books:
HONU AND MOA (fall 2018), author/illustrator
THANKU picture book anthology (fall 2019), contributor

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I've considered putting the story up on my blog, day by day, as part of a portfolio. Has anyone ever done something like that?




When I participated in a mentor program, I posted the work in progress on Facebook. However, it was from a story that is public domain . . . so lifting the work was not a concern. There were some people who spoke of enjoying seeing the work evolve. So when I got my blog running, I decided to put a work in progress up.  It's been fun to receive remarks that people have been watching it. So I put part of my book dummy up with a few thoughts on the mind-work that goes into illustrating a scene. I'm hoping that it's enough to get some of the jist of the story out without giving away the entire work. When I've submitted my work to agents, they have asked if I have my dummy in an electronic form online. I'm sure they are speaking of Lulu, etc . . . which I don't. But, there may be enough between my full color samples and some of the work that is posted to give them an idea without having to send the entire hard copy. We'll see.

There is always a risk that someone who likes your work will lift it from your site. But, without putting some of your best out there, how are people going to know what your best is? It's somewhat of a hot topic between my DH and I. And it's been interesting. When I read critique requests for queries online here, I wonder the same thing. It's tricky knowing how much to put out there and how much to hold back.
#14 - January 30, 2010, 09:20 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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My husband posted some of his drawings on FB, and didn't realize he didn't have any security settings on his profile. One day he spotted an application that was using one of his original drawings. After that, we both took our artwork off facebook.
#15 - January 31, 2010, 02:41 PM
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Yes, I wouldn't encourage posting your work on FB. I was warned by a good friend of mine about the risks, so I took down all but my Wizard of OZ work.  :paint
#16 - January 31, 2010, 07:29 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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Yes, I wouldn't encourage posting your work on FB. I was warned by a good friend of mine about the risks, so I took down all but my Wizard of OZ work.  :paint

I had some artwork up on Facebook, too. Once I realized there could be security issues, I took it down.
#17 - January 31, 2010, 09:49 PM

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