Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Best Scanner for Watercolors

The Journey 
I was beginning to think that other artists used some kind of wizardry to get good images of their watercolor paintings.

It took a lot of research to find out which (reasonably priced) scanner would be best for watercolor paintings. Generally, the Epson Perfection series received good reviews from artists, so with some trepidation, I ordered the Epson Perfection v600.

And now for a comparison test. I hope this is helpful to anyone out there suffering from bad scanner syndrome.



The Comparison

    Epson Perfection v600

  • Colors are very close to original; minor Photoshop adjustments can create a match
  • Flat scanning causes very little gutter shadow
  • Consistent scan quality makes it easy to stitch together large paintings

      HP Photosmart (and other various scanners I tested) 
  • Lighter colors are washed out so scans are basically unusable,  even with Photoshop adjustments
  • Grainy quality
  • Just plain aggravating

     Photograph
  • Image is slightly warped due to lens curvature; this causes the edges to look ‘bent’ so you have to crop out some of the picture.
  • Hard to get good lighting
  • Colors need a lot of adjustment to look like the original; however, they are better than the HP scanner.

Conclusion
If you're looking for a good scanner, I recommend the Epson Perfection. I'm so happy with it that I will probably be up till 2 am re-scanning all of my work.  Hooray...

Update - if you're wondering what to do after you've scanned in your artwork to make it look more like the original, I just finished a tutorial. Click here to check it out!

39 comments:

  1. Thanks Sarah! My couple years old Epson just died on my (my own fault) and looking at these comparisons was very helpful in my shopping around for a new one. I have watercolor illustrations to scan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the tip! I've had a lot of trouble with scanners of late:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you tried scanning large illustrations and stitching them together? I have had a lot of trouble getting seamless transitions. but large format scanners are so expensive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel for you! But I'm sorry to say I don't have a solution for this one. I have tried stitching together larger paintings. And even with a good scanner, I've never had a perfect result, because even the tiniest degree of rotation can cause the line-up to be slightly off. With a lot of care, I've been able to get the scans acceptably close. Some minor photoshop fixups can make up for the rest, so I never considered it to be a major problem. Still, I'm dealing with a maximum of two scans. A painting that requires four or more scans could be pretty frustrating. I hope you're able to find a better solution. If you do, let me know.

      Delete
    2. If you have photoshop, you can automate this process by using their Photomerge function. file > automate > photomerge.

      So long as all the pieces of your image are saved on your computer and facing their correct alignment, photoshop will merge them incredibly seamlessly into a single file.

      Delete
    3. YES, Yes ... PHOTOMERGE is a God send for me. I have it on my One Touch Visioneer. A las, this machine is giving up on me and I have find another scanner, but WITH Photomerge ... won't do without it.

      Delete
    4. To anyone who has problems with stitching large illustrations together and do not have photoshop, there is a free program to windows computers called Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor), that can handle all the trouble! There is a link to the program in this tutorial: http://www.howtogeek.com/100500/how-to-make-scanning-big-pictures-easy-with-freeware-microsoft-ice/

      Delete
  4. How do you set your scanner? I have an epson perfection too but my scans don't look good as yours. can you share a printscreen of the settings you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Marcela - I never made any adjustments to the settings. I scan directly from photoshop and don't see any way to adjust the settings. Sorry I can't be of more help!

      Delete
    2. Marcela, go to "Epson Scan" program, then Settings and then select "color control"
      Best regards,
      Marcelo Lelis
      www.aqualelis.blogspot.com

      Delete
  5. Thanks, been looking for a good scanner, watercolors are especially difficult to scan. The image comparisons are great.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One picture equals to thousand words! What a difference!

    ReplyDelete
  7. thanks! the pictures really help! i have an HP and the scans are incredibly bad; very yellow and actually too far off to bother correcting in some cases!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, this helped me a lot.
    I was very happy with my old Canon CanoScan 8400F, but after years of use it's now showing lines within the scan. Since I also have to scan watercolors, this was a very useful article to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I'm glad I could help :)

      Delete
  9. so very helpful!!! i was just googling good artist scanners for watercolors and an epson perfection came up. thank you for this!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks so much! I have an HP and was really discouraged with my scans; they are really yellow and hard to correct. i just got the Epson that you recommended and did my first scan just now. I am so happy i had to write and thank you for the shots that you posted. It really helped. I didn't even tweak the settings and got a good scan. even the background is nice and white. so happy. thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sarah,
    Thank you for your post . . . very helpful. A question if you don't mind . . . have you had any difficulties with the Epson in scanning images from books? (large-format art books for example?)
    Thank you for any reply . . .
    John

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you so much for showing all three images; I have an HP PhotoSmart, and I'm going to save up for the Epson v600 now, definitely.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks so much for your post! I haven't been satisfied with the scans of my watercolor paintings that are produced by my large format flatbed Brother MFC-J6710DW (which I purchased specifically to scan my artwork!). On the other hand, the Brother does a nice job with my acrylic paintings. Go figure. It's great to hear that there is a machine out there that actually works!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Sarah!

    Great post! All of your information and pictures are so helpful. :) What is the largest size illustration that you have been able to scan?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello! Just a tip - you can use spherize in Photoshop to correct lens distortion!

    ReplyDelete
  16. hello! thanks for the reviews and samples. do you use smooth or rough watercolor paper? i really like the rough paper, but our scanner (HP) picked up a lot of grey in the background. I would order the epson, but don't know if it will work on the rough texture.
    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use rough (cold press) watercolor paper. The scanner picks up the paper's texture, but it's nothing too dramatic and doesn't look grey. It just looks like the texture of the painting itself, if that makes sense. Most of my later blog posts are done using the scanner & textured paper (along with photoshop to correct brightness & color intensity) - the texture is barely visible.

      Delete
  17. Thanks! I just ordered the Epson V600. So glad I can still use cold press paper. :) What sort of adjustments do you do in Photoshop?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I make adjustments to the brightness, contrast, and saturation in Photoshop. Sometimes I also adjust the levels to get my darks a little darker, and color balance if things look too red/ too green. Maybe I'll do a tutorial about this process - it's easy and can be pretty fun.

      Delete
  18. Yay! Yes, please. :) Thanks for all your help.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Just got my Epson V600! Thanks so much for your original post, it was so helpful! I ordered it purely on your recommendation and I'm thrilled!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great news! I am so glad to hear this was helpful for you. Happy scanning :)

      Delete
  20. I think you made a wise choice. The Epson Perfection models have been ideal for scanning photo slides, since they capture the colors more vividly. There have been criticisms on V600’s inability to handle multiple scanning tasks, though I guess those who were complaining didn’t realize that the model wasn’t really meant to be used in an office setting. By the way, your artworks are beautiful. I love them!

    Ruby Badcoe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! My main concern is the size of the scanning bed, actually. It's great for small paintings, but I wish it was easier to get my hands on a larger bed size (as much as I love scanning a big painting 6 times to get the whole thing...)

      Delete
  21. Thanks for the post Sarah! I've been exactly in the same spot like you outlined in the start of the article - when you really have no clue HOW artists convert their beautiful illustrations into a digital file. I am so happy I am starting to learn this and that kind people like you share their secrets :) Epson v600 goes right to the top of my shopping list now. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks Sarah! That's exactly the sort of post/review/comparison that I was looking for!
    Camille

    ReplyDelete
  23. Those are great paintings. Thankfully, your scanner did justice to your artwork. It did a great job in transforming the colors into pixels. I agree, the colors of the photograph with the Epson are more vivid than with HP.

    Curtis Pilon

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sarah, thank you very much for this helpfull article. Last week I ordered an Epson V370, but the same problems as you describe appears in the scans: lighter colours got lost, other colours look like mud. Your article and the enthousiastic comments of other people that - including me - recognize the problem of getting a satisfying digital equivalent of the original painting makes me hopeful: I'll order the Epson V600 immediately!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for sharing you scanner experiences, Sarah. I’d like to know your workflow: do you use a plugin in Photoshop? Do you scan from the original Epson software? Or do you use a third party software like Silverfast or Vuescan? I am looking for a new scanner (I just returned a CanoScan 9000F MK II due to defects and deceptive UX) and Epson V600 might be an option to me. I too use it for water colour illustration.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oh my god thank you so much for clarifying the questions many watercolour artists (Especially those starting out!) struggle with! So so helpful. Can't wait to get my hands on one of these! x

    ReplyDelete