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Profiting with Large-Format Scanning

(September 2008) posted on Thu Sep 11, 2008

Five shops share their viewpoints on digitizing on a large scale.

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By Clare Baker

Conversely, Borum also says they work with artists who have a sophisticated knowledge of art reproduction and want Chromatics to give them the most accurate reproduction possible. For those customers, Borum describes the scanning procedure as a collaborative effort with the client. After scanning the original, any color corrections are made in Photoshop and then a test print is output using the shop’s Epson Stylus Pro 11880. "Generally, the proof is so close they can’t tell the difference. And if it’s an oddball situation where we have to make a choice on a color, then we collaborate with them and discuss how we all want that color to look."

In addition to two-dimensional artwork, the Cruse scanner is also capable of scanning 3-D objects for clients. "We have artists who will make pieces that are essentially flat, but have a couple of inches of relief and we’re able to scan those prints effectively without any shadows." Another client creates very intricate pieces of art using seashells. "You can’t photograph it with a digital camera because of the cross lighting the cameras use. You would have a million shadows going every direction," says Borum. The lighting from a Cruse scanner, however, creates a shadow-less environment.

Even with the precision of the Cruse scanner, however, Borum admits that the scanner hasn’t had much of an impact on an increase in clients or business. He explains: "When we got the scanner in 2000, copying with a transparency was still a strong business and people didn’t really know what to do with the scans. It took several years for people to realize that scans were preferable and that we could do more from a high-quality scan than you could do with a high-quality piece of film."

"It also took some time for printing equipment to catch up with the scanner. Until relatively recently, the Cruse scanner could capture colors from the original artwork that the printing equipment could not reproduce. It’s taken several years for everything else to catch up to fully utilize the capabilities of the scanner."

While printing technology has caught up with the scanner, the high cost of the procedure is still a deterrent to some clients-a 60 x 80 in. reproduction nearly reaches the $1000 mark, Borum points out. However, he says, most customers believe that the high quality of the scan is worth it. "Artists see that they can bring us a piece of framed art, even artwork behind glass, and we can scan it extremely well without having to remove it from the frame or glass, without anything touching the print. That’s a really big deal. They can’t get a better scan than that."

Clare Baker is associate editor of The Big Picture.