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Scanning for a New Life in Print

(December 2011) posted on Tue Dec 13, 2011

How large-format scanners are driving new demand for print services.

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By Michael Antoniak

When fine-art printing is the goal, Awesome Graphics has HP’s Z3200 12-color printer for printing on canvas or other fine-art media with archival inks. Often, though, there’s more life for the art, once scanned. On one recent project, for example, Napolitano scanned a bright painting of a lion on a 3 x 5-foot sheet of plywood for artist Melissa Alexander for reproduction as a giclée print, as well as onto T-shirts, stickers, and 9 x 10 laser prints.

“Once you have their art in your computer, you’ve got that customer,” he says. “Without these scanning services, it can be very difficult for them to re-create their work.”

Capturing maximum image data
Since it launched as a specialist in prepress and 4-color separations in 1971, American Litho Color ( of Dallas has been working to help artists reproduce their work in print. The company continues that tradition today, though more often working from original art rather than film; the company’s Cruse flatbed Synchron Light scanner can digitize original art as large as 60 x 90-inches, and as thick as three inches in a single pass.

“Often artists will come to us after they’ve tried to have their work scanned somewhere else, and weren’t satisfied with the results,” says Marshall Rawlings, vice president of the family business founded by his father Arthur. “We have a controlled environment here to make sure we capture all the color of their original, even the brushstrokes.”

American Litho’s initial foray into scanning services was with film scanners to digitize slides and transparencies. As flatbed size and resolution caught up with its requirements for capturing all details and color accuracy, the company began working from original art. “We started with a Kodak scanner with a 20 x 24-inch scan area and did all kinds of work with that,” recalls Rawlings.

“Then we heard about what Cruse had, and what it could do, we went out and bought the biggest unit they offered.” With the unit, no project is too large – the scanner has been used for everything from an 18 x 24-inch drawing to a mural measuring 5 x 15 feet. “A full-bed scan comes off this machine at one gigabyte,” he notes. “That’s about as much image information as you could want for any kind of reproduction.”