Scan or not to Scan

I often wondered if it’s best to take a photo of a painting or whether to scan it. Below is a small painting of a peeled tangerine that I finished last week. I scanned it at 300 dpi, which is normally requested by magazine or any print matter. The bottom image directly below was taken with a Panasonic camera.

After comparing the two, the bottom image is much closer to the colors than the scanned image. I could, of course, manipulate the colors in a photo manipulation program such as  Photoshop or in my case, a free software – Gimp.

It’s easier to scan. But it’s also good to know how to take a good camera shot of a painting if it’s too large for the scanner.

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112 Peeled Tangerine 300px
Peeled Tangerine, oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 4 x 4 x 1.25 inches; scanned image
112 Peeled Tangerine
Peeled Tangerine by Marlene Lee, oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 4 x 4 x 1.25 inches; Image taken with a camera


14 thoughts on “Scan or not to Scan

  1. Absolutely beautiful painting!! I always take photos but always need to correct the colors in a photo editor. I actually never thought of scanning a painting, maybe it’s quite common? It’s an
    interesting comparison, though. -Heidi

    1. Yes, it was good to see the two side by side. I think many artists do scan only if their art is small enough. If it’s a large piece then they go to a printer. But it’s for printing purposes only. And thanks for the compliments.

  2. Nice painting! I think the camera image is a bit richer in colour, especially the blue. I have been struggling so much with photos of my paintings, but I think I am starting to get the hang of it.

  3. I’ve always photographed my work, but I love photography in its own right. The back side of my house is almost always in open shade so anytime during the day I just run out there and take a picture. It doesn’t even take a minute.

    1. That’s great! I’ve heard that doing it inside of garage with the door open is another good place. I did my shooting inside my office but surprisingly the light form the skylights and through the open door provided the perfect light…as long I photo during around noon time. I’m interested in seeing your set up.

      1. The garage and your office work because they provide open shade. I was thinking of doing a post on it at some point since I see so many people not sure how to do it.

  4. Beautiful Marlene 🙂 I always scan, and then make adjustments in Photoshop as needed. Usually it is only one or two small tweaks to get it to look like the original. But I only have the camera on my phone, and I work mostly on paper. I do scan small canvas work as well.

    1. Doing this was a great practice for me. What I discovered here will helped with photographing larger works since my scanner goes up to only 9 x 12 images.

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