Scanning new drawings

Every year , I go through a predictable drawing production cycle: create new drawings, have the drawings scanned, and get the images printed. Last year, a new problem emerged. The graphics company that I had been using for years was no longer able to do large format scans because their machine had become inoperable. My standard format for large drawings is 14″ x 17″. I started working with this size decades ago and have become accustomed to it. When I complete a new drawing, the first step in producing reproductions is to have high resolution scans made of the image on paper. The output of the scanning process is a large Tif file at 300 DPI. Once the scans are made, I have an archive of the image and the Tif files can then be printed from a digital printer. So, a solution had to be found, since I had several new images to be scanned and a few old images to be archived.

Amazingly, after extensive searching and many phone calls, I found that no one else in the city of Huntsville could make high resolution scans for an image size large enough for my paper size. This seemed hard to believe. I began to consider the only alternatives at hand. One possibility was to have my drawings photographed, and use the photo image file for digital printing of my art reproductions. This avenue was deemed unsuitable due to the very fine detail in my drawings. Another possibility was to have the image scanned in sections on a smaller flat bed scanner and have the sections re-assembled using a graphics program such as Photoshop. In some cases, such as panoramic images of landscapes, this process is totally acceptable. My local printer offered this service as an alternative to large format scans as it had been determined not to repair their broken scanner. This option, however, cost almost triple the cost of a flatbed scan.

After some further searches, I was able to find a an artist contractor that was willing to try this process at a much more economical cost. With no other apparent options available, I decided to try this route. When the scan was complete and the images stitched together, I examined the image on my home computer. Initially, it looked perfect. But, after careful examination, I found one detail, a single object in the image that was ever so slightly offset. Even though the detail was very small, and certainly not obvious, I decided that the possibility of introducing such defects into my archived digital images and reproductions for sale was unacceptable. It was at this point that I decided to widen my search for graphics scanning and reproduction services outside of Huntsville. Soon, thereafter, I found Chromatics. Located in downtown Nashville, they offer scanning and reproduction services specifically for artists. Most notably, they offer scanning services using their Cruse Scanner, a specialized, large format scanning device used to create high resolution scans of high archival quality.

The Cruse Scanner is well known as a precision machine and is used by iconic establishments such as government agencies and museums around the world to create high quality scanned images. At this point, I had 5 new drawings that needed to be scanned, so I decided to have the scans made at Chromatics. The result was very satisfactory. The Cruse Scanner is an impressive device (see photo). It is large enough to scan several of my 14″ x 17″ drawings at a time. During my visit at the facility, it was obvious that graphics reproductions for artists is a principle component of their business model. The resulting 300 DPI scans are Tif files about 60 mb in size. The only drawback is the fact that to get scans made, I have to make two rounds trips to Nashville by car. One trip to deliver the artwork, the second trip to pick up the scans. However, the scans are very high quality, the staff is very professional and they seem to take extra care to make sure the product is as near perfect as possible.

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