Art Question - Cameras and Scanners

In category: Art Talk

This question is for artists who don't have a scanner available:

In my years of taking photos of my traditional artworks on my phone, Samsung's cameras give out somewhat blurry lines; lower end phones get blurrier lines.

For traditional artists, what camera do you use for your artworks? In the case of large paintings (watercolor, acrylic, oil), what's your t&t on taking the best photo?

For digital artists, how do you make your sketches/line art crisp before you color it?

For both: What kind of camera should be best used, phone camera or regular camera? What are your tips and tricks when you take your photo at night? How do you keep your hand from shaking when taking a photo?

I had been given advice about this topic before, but it's best to know more and share some things.

  • UPDATE: Question for those who have scanners:
    • What type of scanner do you use? Even though my scanner is busted, I still a sucker for Canon scanners.
    • Since most sketch papers (and watercolor papers) I know have a size of 9x12, and I know that I'm not the only one having that problem of scanning that, how do you fit that on a scanner?
    • From the question above, what about 12x18 or A3 paper?

    This might be looked down upon with most artists and I guess you can say that it's "cheating", but for digital art, I like using the line tool and then fix it up.

    It has resulted in some good lines for me :V

    Mairo
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    AlexYorim said:
    This question is for artists who don't have a scanner available:
    *snip*

    Solution: Invest in a goddamn motherfucking scanner for fucks sake!

    Because I'm actually kinda baffled as scanners do get thrown around for free and those printer combos with wifi sell for as low as 30-40€ nowdays pretty much constantly where you can ignore print portion if you don't care about that and I can't imagine prices being massively differend from any other first world country.

    It's also most likely one time investment, remember when Vista became a thing many devices were not useable thanks to lack of drivers which shouldn't be worry nowdays.

    AlexYorim said:
    For both: What kind of camera should be best used? What are your tips and tricks when you take your photo at night? How do you keep your hand from shaking when taking a photo?

    Get a high end DSLR and use it in proper lighting, so that the shutter is so fast that you don't have to keep your hands steady.

    Which is hundreds of euros more expensive solution from just getting a motherfucking scanner.

    Also with scanner you do not have to worry about low end mobile phone camera issues like sensor blur, contrast issues, motion blur from slow shutter and shaky hands, rotation and tilt of the image, low resolution already lossy export which to do post processing on, etc.

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    Mairo said:
    It's also most likely one time investment, remember when Vista became a thing many devices were not useable thanks to lack of drivers which shouldn't be worry nowdays.

    Not in my experience.
    I picked up two cheap scanners from a flea market last year. Both worked fine with Windows 7, but I've been unable to get them to work in Windows 10. Haven't found any compatible drivers for them.


    AlexYorim said:
    For traditional artists, what camera do you use for your artworks?

    For both: What kind of camera should be best used? What are your tips and tricks when you take your photo at night? How do you keep your hand from shaking when taking a photo?

    I use a Canon Digital Rebel T5, which is an entry level DSLR. No special lighting is needed, but I do use Photoshop or similar software to make sure the colors in my photo match the ones on the actual painting. I like to tune the levels, curves, brightness, and contrast, specifically.

    Most of my paintings won't fit on the cheap scanners @Mairo recommends.


    That's when you need to scan it in multiple parts and digitally recombine them after the fact.

    Mairo
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Date: February 02, 2019

    Genjar said:
    Not in my experience.
    I picked up two cheap scanners from a flea market last year. Both worked fine with Windows 7, but I've been unable to get them to work in Windows 10. Haven't found any compatible drivers for them.

    Welp!
    But still overall my statement should be correct, there was much more issues with device drivers before XP than there is after Vista and in many cases installing Vista drivers on 10 can still work.

    CCoyote said:
    I use a Canon Digital Rebel T5, which is an entry level DSLR. No special lighting is needed, but I do use Photoshop or similar software to make sure the colors in my photo match the ones on the actual painting. I like to tune the levels, curves, brightness, and contrast, specifically.

    Most of my paintings won't fit on the cheap scanners @Mairo recommends.

    Oh yeah, at that point DSLR can be better, especially if making sure that photo itself is fine and doing that kind of post processing. Also with some materials that can turn out looking more natural compared to scanner.

    However that's still DSLR, not $100-150 Samsung or Lenovo phones with bad cameras that I have seen AlexYorim using. There's slight difference in cheap phone with cheap camera and $400 camera designed only for taking photos and nothing else.

    This is also why guidelines do not specifically say that scanner is required, but still most artists do not seem to notice a difference between your cheap smartphone and proper DSLR, let alone thinking that no post processing is required.


    CCoyote said:
    I use a Canon Digital Rebel T5, which is an entry level DSLR. No special lighting is needed, but I do use Photoshop or similar software to make sure the colors in my photo match the ones on the actual painting. I like to tune the levels, curves, brightness, and contrast, specifically.

    Most of my paintings won't fit on the cheap scanners @Mairo recommends.

    I could invest on a DSLR camera in case the paper I'm using won't fit. Apparently, 9x12 sketch paper does not go well with regular scanners, which could only scan Letter or A4 size.

    Also, I think I need to update my first question.

    Basically, it's this:

    Question for those who have scanners:

    • What type of scanner do you use? Even though my current scanner (a Pixma E510) is busted, I still a sucker for Canon scanners.
    • Since most sketch papers (and watercolor papers) I know have a common size of 9x12, and I know that I'm not the only one having that problem of scanning that, how do you fit that on a scanner?
    • From the question above, what about 12x18 or A3 paper?

    • canoscan 8000f
    • I've scanned A4 and A3 (via stitching). Not sure if I've ever encountered the slightly larger 9x12 format, but the scannable area *is* slightly larger than A4, so it might work in this scanner.
    • A3 paper you need to stitch (multiple scans). There is automatic stitching software but it isn't always that good at understanding drawings, esp. line drawings. Mostly I throw the scans at Hugin, and if I'm not happy with the result, get each scan as a layer with a layer mask, align them and then put judicious gradients into the mask to combine them. You need to write off a border section of each scan as it will be distorted and shaded as the paper curls out of the scanner bed. I generally go left to right, top to bottom across the paper. It's important to keep the paper in a consistent alignment too (otherwise you'll have to apply rotation or perspective tool pretty precisely).

    If you use camera, finding the right distance from the paper is really important (otherwise you'll get lense distortion). Don't fill the entire photo with the drawing -- it should be less (how much less depends on the lens); the picture should also be central.


    TheHuskyK9 said:
    This might be looked down upon with most artists and I guess you can say that it's "cheating", but for digital art, I like using the line tool and then fix it up.

    It has resulted in some good lines for me :V

    I don't think that's considered cheating--after all, it's just a line at a steady pressure that you then invest time in adjusting to look correct. The other way to make a perfect line is by putting an actual ruler on your tablet and... that's why we have line tools instead, haha!

    But no, 5+px lines (6px for me personally because of OCD) and some adjusting, digital lines can look beautiful and stylized. There's plenty of effort that goes into tempering linework after all.


    Mairo said:
    ... but still most artists do not seem to notice a difference between your cheap smartphone and proper DSLR, let alone thinking that no post processing is required.

    AlexYorim said:
    I could invest on a DSLR camera in case the paper I'm using won't fit.

    @AlexYorim I think @Mairo does bring up something worthwhile here, and thanks for that, Mairo -- there are some cell phones (not the cheap ones) that take adequate photos for the kind of post-processing I do. I use a DSLR because I'm also into photography, but if you have a really high-end iPhone, Galaxy, or Pixel, give those a try and see if they work. Just remember to take time to fix things like keystone and color corrections. :-)


    CCoyote said:
    @AlexYorim I think @Mairo does bring up something worthwhile here, and thanks for that, Mairo -- there are some cell phones (not the cheap ones) that take adequate photos for the kind of post-processing I do. I use a DSLR because I'm also into photography, but if you have a really high-end iPhone, Galaxy, or Pixel, give those a try and see if they work. Just remember to take time to fix things like keystone and color corrections. :-)

    Thanks for the tip.

    Next question: Which scanner is more investable? Standalone flatbeds or the printer/scanner combos?

    Mairo
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    CCoyote said:
    @AlexYorim I think @Mairo does bring up something worthwhile here, and thanks for that, Mairo -- there are some cell phones (not the cheap ones) that take adequate photos for the kind of post-processing I do. I use a DSLR because I'm also into photography, but if you have a really high-end iPhone, Galaxy, or Pixel, give those a try and see if they work. Just remember to take time to fix things like keystone and color corrections. :-)

    Higher end models do allow more fine tuning and even shooting into RAW files which are insanely much better (the quality compared to saved JPG is actually pretty insane in some cases with my phone, but too lazy to enable it for casual photos) and with proper post processing I could see them being acceptable.

    But at the same time, buying over 500€ phone just to take photographs of your artwork is not exactly the brightest idea.

    AlexYorim said:
    Thanks for the tip.

    Next question: Which scanner is more investable? Standalone flatbeds or the printer/scanner combos?

    Depents on what you need.

    Printer/Scanners are usually much cheaper as they move much faster from stores, but at the same time they are generally limited to A4 and 600 DPI with features more suited to document scanning. They are definitely useable still and most cheapest and easiest way to get best digitizations from physical medium. Flatbeds can be much larger and have much more precise scanning, but comes with premium cost. I do actually have couple scans from physically low size artwork taken with extremely premium scanner and it's kinda insane to be able to see papers texture in HD, with all the individual strands showing. Of course this is at the level that's not demanded from e621, but if you are doing a lot of traditional artwork, I do not see reason not to invest in higher end model at that point if the financial situation allows that.