A lot of artwork these days is digital - whether its graphic design, illustrations for social media, or the album artwork of your favorite artists, but for those of us who enjoy the traditional pen - or pencil - and paper, the world of digital art can be a little daunting.
However, you can get the best of both worlds by scanning your drawings and paintings so you can share them with others, post them online, or simply immortalize them in a digital format.
If you’ve ever tried photographing your artwork you’ll know that this can be a challenging task thanks to bouncing light, troublesome shadows, and losing the overall feel and vibrancy of the work.
Plus it’s well known that only highly trained and talented art photographers who specialize in this area are capable of such tasks.
A scanner is the best way to capture your artwork for online or marketing purposes - this way you’ll get a clear, vivid image that closely resembles the original piece, providing you choose a scanner with a good DPI and image resolution.
If you don’t have a scanner, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of choice out there and of course, those dreaded technical terms. You may be thinking certain questions like, doesn’t a scanner for artwork need to be different to a scanner, say, for copying documents?
To answer all of your burning questions, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best scanners for artwork, complete with a handy buyer’s guide and a ‘frequently asked questions’ section, so that you have everything you need in one article.
So, let's get started.
OUR TOP PICK
The Epson Perfection V600 lives up to its name: it’s highly rated thanks to its versatility and extremely high resolution.
With 6400 x 9600 DPI resolution, this high-performance scanner ensures precision scanning for sharp, vivid reproductions up to 17" x 22" in size.
Featuring Digital ICE for both film and prints, one-touch color restoration, and ArcSoft PhotoStudio, this scanner provides a complete photo restoration solution that is also perfect for producing high-quality scans of your artwork.
Like other scanners in the Epson Perfection line, the energy-efficient Ready Scan LED light means the scanner is immediately ready to work from the moment it’s switched on, so you use less power, and print faster.
The four customizable buttons also increase productivity by allowing you to instantly scan, copy, convert to PDF, and scan straight to email.
The V600 also features fully automatic scanning, as well as three additional modes to give you greater control over your reproductions.
- Highly rated among artists
- 6400 x 9600 dpi resolution
- One-touch color restoration
- Energy-efficient Ready Scan LED light
- Four customizable buttons
- Automatic scanning modes
- Reproduction up to 17" x 22"
- Not the cheapest in the Epson Perfection range, but cheaper models offer the same or similar features
The CanoScan LiDE 400 is a full-color image scanner with a compact design, making it great for artists with limited space or for those who work remotely.
It’s designed to scan photos and documents in high-resolution but will also scan your artwork to a high quality, thanks to the 4800 x 4800 DPI resolution.
Scanning is fast and easy with this device, thanks to the high-power USB cable providing an 8-second scanning speed.
You can also send your files and images directly to Cloud services like OneDrive and Dropbox with the ‘Send to Cloud5’ feature.
This scanner is also designed to be super user-friendly, making it perfect for beginners, and the 5 'EZ' Buttons, with Auto Scan Mode3, automatically adjust settings by detecting what you are scanning, so you get optimal results every time.
Not only is this scanner lightweight and portable, but it’s also ultra-convenient, and you can even save space on your desk by scanning artwork vertically, without having to worry that the quality will be compromised.
- Portable, slim-design which also scans upright to save space
- 4800 x 4800 DPI resolution.
- Fast scan time - have your artwork scanned in just 8 seconds
- EZ buttons and Auto Scan mode for ease of use
- Scan directly to cloud services
- Affordable for lower budgets
- No AC power adapter needed, thanks to the high-speed USB
- Not the best for color vibrancy and accuracy - so bear this in mind if you work mainly in color
Another scanner from the Epson Perfection range, the V19 is ideal If you’re new to the world of digital artwork and scanning and you’re reluctant to spend too much money.
It’s also compact and folds up for easy portability. This scanner is user-friendly, with large, easy-to-use buttons and a fast processing time - scan letter-sized images in less than 10 seconds.
It’s not lacking in image quality either - the 4800 DPI optical resolution ensures your images are clear and detailed so they don’t lose vibrancy in the scanning process.
If you’re an artist who works in different locations, or simply want a compact scanner, then the Epson Perfection is ideal - it has a space-saving built-in kickstand for vertical placement and plugs into your computer or laptop via a USB cord, meaning it doesn’t require an AC adapter.
This scanner comes equipped with Epson Easy Photo Scan software for sharpening every detail of your work and saving it to cloud services to save storage, or you can scan your artwork directly to your email or create PDF documents.
- Compact design is great for artists on the move
- Kickstand allows you to store the scanner vertically to save space
- Great quality - 4800 dpi optical resolution
- Plugs into your laptop - no AC adapter required
- Quick scanning time - less than 10 seconds
- Comes with Epson Easy Scan software
- Can’t scan large or oversized images/artwork
The Epson DS-50000 allows you to scan a range of sizes, from business-card size to large-format artwork up to 11.7” x 17”.
Whether you’re an illustrator or graphic designer, this scanner provides optimal clarity thanks to the 4-line CCD sensor (RGB and black) which provides vivid color and crisp, sharp text.
The DS-50000 features TWAIN and ISIS drivers so you can seamlessly integrate your scanned artwork into existing applications.
This means the machine is highly versatile and adaptable, whether you’re scanning directly to Online Storage Accounts like Dropbox or Google Drive, or sending via email.
The double flush glass of this scanner ensures prints stay put and do not lift while the scanning process takes place, and while this D5S-50000 offers 16-bit color depth and 600 DPI which may not necessarily be the best, it still produces high quality scanned images for artwork reproduction.
This scanner also comes with Epson’s 3-year limited warranty including an advance exchange with next-business-day replacement.
- Large-format scanning
- 4-line CCD sensor (RGB and black)
- TWAIN and ISIS drivers so you can seamlessly integrate your scanned artwork into existing applications
- Use with Windows or Mac
- Includes fast Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connectivity for quick, easy setup.
- 3-year warranty
- DPI could be better
If you’re using your artwork for professional purposes, or you’re a graphic designer looking for a top-notch scanner, the Epson Expression could be the one for you.
This scanner offers professional-standard large-format scanning and can accommodate media up to 12.2” X17.2”.
The standout feature of this scanner is the quality of the image: with 2400 X 4800 DPI resolution, step-drive technology, and a 3.8 Dmax for clarity and detail, you needn’t worry about your scanned artwork losing its original vibrancy and character.
If you use color, you’ll be impressed with Epson’s colorful II imaging system which provides enhanced color and superior image processing thanks to the fast warm-up LED lamp and Epson MatrixCCD technology for the boldest and brightest images.
This scanner is also perfect for restoring fading color photos, as it has built-in one-touch color restoration for easy photo fixing in a matter of seconds.
You won’t find yourself tapping your foot and waiting for your scanned images with the Epson Expression, as you can scan multiple images simultaneously and save the files to PC or Mac for maximum productivity and convenience.
- Large format scanning
- Extraordinary Image Quality - 2400 x 4800 dpi resolution,
- Enhanced Color with the ColorTrue II Imaging System
- One-Touch Color Restoration
- Batch Scanning for Increased Productivity
- Powerful Software Included - LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast Ai and IT8 Target to calibrate colors.
- Hi-speed USB cable
- It’s not cheap - but this is a professional-standard scanner
Best Scanner For Artwork Buying Guide
Scanners can be used for anything from documents to photographs, so does one-scanner-fit-all, or should you look out for specific features when browsing for a scanner for your artwork?
There are a few important elements to bear in mind, such as DPI resolution, color restoration features, speed, and versatility, as well as more general aspects such as portability and energy efficiency.
Here’s our guide to finding the perfect artwork scanner, but first up, let’s have a look at some scanning jargon and abbreviations -
- CIS Scanners - Can scan flat media such as general documents or flat drawings
- CID Scanners - Can scan textured and slightly raised surfaces such as a thick acrylic painting
- DPI – Dots Per Inch
- PPI – Pixels Per Inch
- Tiff – Tag Image File Format
- CMYK Colours – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black
It’s important to choose the right scanner for the artwork you’re hoping to scan. For example, if your artwork is flat, then a CIS scanner will suffice, as these scan only flat media.
On the other hand, if you’re hoping to scan textured paintings, you’ll need a CID scanner, as these can scan artwork such as oil and acrylic paintings.
Unless your surface is completely flat, a CID scanner is probably your best option for artwork and provides the most versatility.
As we mentioned above, DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, which basically means how many dots make up every inch of your scanned image. Most experts recommend a DPI of at least 300 for scanning artwork, and all of the scanners on our list are well above this mark.
If you’ll be editing your image in Photoshop or other photo editing software, do not increase the DPI when editing as it will cause distortions to the image. Instead, ensure your scanner has a DPI of at least 300.
Any artwork scanned at a DPI of 100 or less will appear pixelated or blurred and this means the quality won’t be good enough for reproduction or selling.
You should also bear in mind that, generally speaking, the higher the DPI, the larger you will be able to print without pixelation, but this is only something you only need to consider if you’ll be increasing the size of the original artwork.
PPI is the resolution or pixel density of a digital image displayed on-screen and is different from DPI. You needn’t worry about this term when buying a scanner, but it’ll crop up if you’re using editing software afterward.
If you work mainly in black and white, this will be less of a concern for you.
However, if your artwork is colorful, you want to ensure that your scanner will adequately capture your work without dulling down the vibrancy.
Surprisingly, this also links in with color quality. Most people will be familiar with JPEG formats and most of the time, a JPEG file or image is adequate for reproduction. However, when using JPEG you run the risk of potential image degradation.
TIFF file formats are an alternative and can be used across different editing software such as Illustrator and Photoshop.
The image won’t degrade with TIFF files as it's based on the CMYK color scheme (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) which is used by printers. This basically means it will provide you with the most accurate color reproduction for your prints.
As you can see from our above list, brands like Epson and Canon dominate the market when it comes to scanners and printers, and have done for many years. The brand you go for should depend on the features the scanner will offer and its value for money, rather than the name alone.
However, it’s always best to go for a well-known brand when buying such hardware, particularly if you’re investing a lot of money, as these names are more likely to have better warranties.
While ten or twenty years ago scanners were a highly expensive piece of kit reserved only for professionals, today the market is far more competitive, and you can find scanners ranging from under $100 to well into the thousands. How much you spend depends on what you need the scanner for.
If it's simply for personal use, then you can get plenty of bang for your buck at the low-mid price point, whereas if you’re looking to reproduce your artwork for marketing purposes or with the intention to sell it, then it's worth investing a little extra into a quality scanner, as it will probably pay for itself over time.
Frequently asked questions
How do I scan my artwork?
- Ensure the glass pane of the scanner is clean, then place the art carefully on the glass, ensuring it is straight and lined up within the scanning area.
- On your computer, open up your scanning application (this usually comes with the scanner you purchase). Here you can adjust the resolution. A minimum of 300 DPI is recommended for artwork, and remember, if you’re reproducing a larger version of the artwork you’ll need to increase the DPI as high as possible.
- Follow the manufacturer guidelines to scan your image.
- If your artwork is too large to fit within the parameters of the scanner, you can scan it in sections, and then stitch these together in Photoshop. There are plenty of guides online which demonstrate how to do this.
Is it better to scan or photograph artwork?
While some experts suggest you can photograph your work, this is OK for social media and personal use, but the quality is going to be inadequate for reproduction purposes.
There are too many considerations to take into account, such as color and lighting, not to mention resolution, and generally, a scanner will provide you with a much more evenly lit, vibrant, and clear image providing you scan it correctly.
Even some of the best photographers aren’t up to the highly technical challenge of art photography, and nothing looks worse than poor reproductions of artwork.
What DPI should I use for scanning artwork?
300 DPI is the most widely accepted minimal DPI you should use when reproducing your artwork. Theoretically, the higher the DPI of your scanner, the larger you’ll be able to print without the art becoming pixelated or blurred.
WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.
What’s your favourite scanner for artwork? We’d love to hear from you... Please leave your comments below.
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