One of my hobbies is pen and ink drawing and water color painting. In my struggles to make copies of my pieces for friends, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of techniques and devices. Photo copies are generally the most inexpensive way to print in large format. Large color prints can cost just a few dollars. So I’ve tried photographing my paintings and sketches outdoors under natural lighting. I taped the picture to a large glass window and use a Leica digital camera with a 35mm lens. I then used Photoshop to clean up the image, correct the color balance, crop, and removing the slight trapezoidal distortion.
In spite of many attempts, the results have not been good. The original artwork done on Arches watercolor paper looks strange on photographic paper. The colors are much muddier and the dynamic range is compressed. I’m very sensitive to the original colors of the Winsor Newton paints.
Fortunately, I found an alternative that’s provided much better results. While it doesn’t work for my very large prints, 16-inches by 30-inches, it does a terrific job for smaller prints up to about 12-inches by 16-inches.
It requires two devices, a large format printer and a large format scanner. For the printer I’ve been using the Epson P600, a 13-inch printer that prints on Epson watercolor paper. For the scanner I’ve been using the Mustek A3F2400N, a high speed flatbed scanner that costs about $300 at discount.
I’ve scanned numerous pieces of art and the results are excellent. Colors and tonal range are much superior to photographing them, and the printed results can almost be mistaken for the original. All of the shades and nuances are faithfully reproduced.
The scanner has a very high 2400 dpi resolution that captures every detail in the original, even light pencil marks that were not fully erased. Most of my scanning has been done at 300dpi, taking less than 10 seconds.
I used the Mustek 2400HS with a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. Mustek provided a software upgrade during my testing, and it worked well. The biggest difficulty was just finding the software in my applications folder after the installation.
The scanner is connected to a USB port with the included cable. Controls on the scanner control power, scan, PDF and Panel.
The scanner weighs just about ten pounds. I found the best way to store it when I wasn’t using it was to stand it vertically next to my desk. Because of its footprint it can take up a good portion of your desktop.
I tried doing a wide range of scans, including copying a page of a scrapbook with mostly photos, and scanning pages of a book. Copying photos of photos generally increases contrast, as it did in this case, but the pages were good enough to share with others. I copied articles in a magazine and newspaper, as well as a chapter from a book. The large format made everything so much easier than trying to cut and paste. If you do have a book that you want to copy, this is probably one of the best way to do it, but I’d advise following copyright laws. With this scanner it’s likely you’ll find other uses as I did: copying record album covers, book covers and sections of maps. The large scanning window opens up many new opportunities to bring the real into the virtual.
The very economical scanner does an excellent job in getting a large image into electronic form for all sorts of uses. It works with both PCs and Macs and is highly recommended.For me it became the missing ling to go from artwork to a print. (www.mustek.com).