Please note Friday the 30th of September 2016 is a public holiday in Victoria, and Image Science will be closed. 

Direct Scanning and Photographic Capture for Art Reproductions

17th September 2015 Scanning, Art Reproduction


Art reproductions play an important part in making your work more accessible. They open up new markets and income streams for artists which can be used to support the creation of your originals.

A high quality digital file is the key to high quality reproductions and having this process done to all the artworks you produce before you sell them can be the difference between making a living as an artist from your work or not.

There are two methods of producing a high quality digital file - direct scanning and photographic capture. In general, the direct scanning approach for art reproduction only works well with small, simple pieces - with those it can work very well, and be quite cost effective. However, for larger pieces, the photographic approach is a much better way to create good quality files for digital reproduction.

Direct Scanning

Direct scanning is a great way to create a high quality digital file of smaller artworks but is generally not the ideal mechanism for dealing with larger art works as in most cases it is inherently uneven, suffers from poor focus, and almost without exception uses a fluorescent light source.

This is not at all ideal for art reproduction due to the highly uneven light output across the visible spectrum - which in practice usually leads to significant, often very hard to correct, colour errors that vary across the work. With small works it's usually easy enough to work around the limitations but with larger works the process simply doesn't work very well.

Many large scanners, such as plan scanners, touch the original works with rollers, as they're more designed for documents and plans and have automatic feed mechanisms. We've evaluated all the big players in the market (Colortrac, Contex etc) and unfortunately they all visibly mark delicate original works.

The Cruse scanner is the most heavily touted system and scans without touching the artwork surface. However we have often received scans of works made on these scanners and unfortunately they are often not sharp and they have always required significant colour work before final output.

We are not experts on this machine and they do generally have a good reputation but we can only judge based on the results we have seen. We have also seen a lot of negative commentary on the web in regards to their quality.

Photographic Capture

Warmer Air Art Reproduction Print by Jeremy Geddes
Warmer Air Art Reproduction Print by Jeremy Geddes

In our experience and testing, Photography simply works better than scanning with larger works. It is one of the most colour accurate techniques for art reproduction in general, and results in most scenarios are very good. High resolution photography allows you to properly light each piece individually for the best effect and most accurate results - whether you want all the texture from the original work, or a more flat reproduction. The artwork surface is never touched, and it can in fact also be more cost effective, especially if you have multiple pieces done at once.

Photographic Capture services are well developed and readily available here in Australia. We use Photographic Capture for all our Art Reproduction services that are over A2 to create high resolution, colour accurate digital files. We work with a number of artists, some whom charge up to 6 figures for their original, to produce edition runs of their original works.