The average graphic designer doesn’t want to use the same kind of scanner you’d normally find in the office. In fact, many of the better ones are made for the job.
You’ll want something that’s stable enough to handle delicate artwork. More than likely, you’ll also want a scanner that produces an image with a large number of dots per inch (DPI). While you might think that you need a huge piece of equipment to do the job done, you could end up surprised at what you’ll find. A number of vendors now offer slim scanners that produce excellent images.
Get your paintbrushes ready as we take a look at some of the best scanners for artwork.
Raven Original Two-Sided Scanner
• Automatically scans stacks of sheets at upwards of 17ppm
• Can transfer images via USB, several cloud services or even an email account
• Features a big touchscreen display
• Won’t usually scan color images greater than 300 DPI
• Lacks USB jacks
Some people tend to be low-tech and prefer traditional media. If this doesn’t describe you, then the Raven Original could be your next scanner. It comes with a touchscreen interface and several other special features. Those who want to be able to scan artwork and layout pages without having to start up their PC will love this special interface. They’ll also love the speed this scanner works at. This makes it an attractive option for those who are making digital collages out of multiple scanned images.
While Raven originally marketed this scanner to offices, it’s today focused on the art market. The price is relatively high compared to some similar models, but it might worth it for those that need features like AI-based OCR technology.
iCODIS Document Portable Scanner
• Features built-in article recognition, which is great for layout designers and graphic specialists
• Includes an LED fill light for extra bright scans
• Often is able to scan full sheets almost instantly
• Needs to be placed on a very flat surface, which might not work in some art studios
• Can’t handle sheets much larger than A3 size
Due to its innovative design, iCODIS likes to call the X3 a document camera rather than a scanner. It resembles the overhead models once used to trace transparencies. In fact, some users have reported that their X3 units pull double duty as a projector.
Those who work with innovative visual styles will love some of the special features the X3 supports. It comes with TWAIN and OCR modules, which should please magazine designers. It automatically splits pages into multiple segments. Likewise, the X3 can merge sections together.
This same unusual design comes at a cost, however. You’re going to need to install it on a pretty level surface. Fortunately, the price tag isn’t high and the unit is portable enough that many people should be able to overlook this.
Plustek A3 Flatbed Scanner
• Scans documents as large as 11.69″x17″
• Doesn’t take any time to warm up
• Comes with several preprogrammed one-touch buttons for quick operations
• Can scan images in beautiful 48-bit color
• Suffers from software compatibility issues
• Users may need to update the drivers as soon as they get their scanner
Since the Plustek A3 supports large format document scanning, it’s become a favorite among graphic designers. If you do any kind of layout work or graphic design, then it’s for you. The A3 can scan at a resolution as high as 1,200 DPI.
Scrapbookers and those who like to use found images from old magazines can lay entire sheets out on the top of the A3. This is a TWAIN-compliant scanner, which means it should work with almost any modern computer. It’s supposed to support both Macs and PCs out of the box, but you’ll probably want to download the latest drivers. There used to be some stability problems that the vendor fixed with an update.
Photos can sometimes get discolored by the light from scanners. Plustek’s special LED light source is relatively gentle. You won’t have to wait for it to warm up, either. Those who need to scan artwork in very fast can select the 300 DPI setting and get an entire monochrome page scanned in under nine seconds. It doesn’t cost as much as some of the big name ones do, either.
Epson FastFoto FF-680W
• Easily enlarges any image up to 1,200 DPI
• Comes with Epson ScanSmart software with built-in OCR software
• Uploads images directly to Dropbox or Google Drive for sharing with others
• Allows users to reduce any images to the right dimensions for a postcard
• Doesn’t work very well with images printed on bent paper
• Won’t scan older monochromatic images clearly
With intelligent document control tools and WiFi access, the second generation FastFoto scanner would fit into any office. Where it really shines, though, is in the world of fine art.
It scans documents fast enough that those making collages can important a great deal of work into a single file. Artists who leave handwritten notes on the back of photos can scan these in simultaneously.
Epson’s engineers made sure that it could operate at fairly high temperatures. This might sound important, but it’s a great feature for those who do a great deal of scanning in their own studios. It’s also one of the few devices that can enlarge trading cards, so it might even prove attractive to a few niche artists. The price is a bit higher than the competition in some cases, but this is outweighed by its many features.
Doxie Go SE Smarter Scanner
• Highly integrated Wi-Fi connectivity makes file sharing easy
• Totally wireless
• Scans up to 400 pages before needing a recharge
• File sizes of scans tend be rather large
• Needs to be connected to a special SD card
Doxie’s Go SE scanner has generated a ton of buzz in artist communities. That’s because it’s a portable scanner that’s actually good enough for serious use. Artists who tend to look through paper archives will love how small it is. It’s also perfect for those who need to make scans of posters in a studio with no other equipment.
Since it’s Wi-Fi capable and battery powered, you send photos right to your phone even when you don’t have access to your laptop. In spite of the small size, it makes crisp images and doesn’t require any special drivers to use. While it won’t necessarily make the high DPI scans associated with many others, this may not matter to those in the market for a portable model. Doxie is a lesser-known name at the moment, and that’s kept the price down thus far.
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500
• Connects via USB and Wi-Fi
• Feeder supports up to 50 documents or images to be scanned
• Automatically cleans up images
• May crease some types of paper or card stock
• Can’t handle dirty or deteriorating media
There aren’t many scanning devices that allow you to sort images with an integrated file manager. That alone should attract potential users to the iX1500. It offers a little tree that shows you what you’ve scanned in before and offers to create miniature on-screen albums. If you find yourself scanning in numerous documents for page design projects or your own personal art collection, then this is a great feature to have.
A few in the art world might cringe because it looks like a printer or because it costs more than one. Open-minded users will find that the newest generation of iX scanner works great for double-sided images and bigger documents. That makes it a great choice for those who design business cards, logos and other types of advertising art.
Canon imageFORMULA DR-C225 II
• Scans up to 25 pages a minute
• Comes with a 30 sheet automatic feeder
• Can scan very long documents
• Not the best when it comes to glossy pages
• TWAIN driver has to be installed separately for some types of art projects
The first thing people notice about the imageFORMULA is how compact its design is. While it’s not a portable scanner, it doesn’t take up much room. That makes it yet another good choice for those that want to keep something relatively powerful in their studio.
It’s one of the few art-ready devices that can handle multiple document types. If you often have to scan in pieces of onion sheet, then this is one of the better tools for the job. It can also scan in several types of card stock without bending it. That’s a feature you don’t see very often, especially in this price range.
If you’re the average artist, than the Epson FastFoto should fit your needs. Those who aren’t experienced with sophisticated scanner equipment should have no problem using it. By no means is it a novice piece of equipment, however. Sophisticated functions like the ability to shrink and enlarge images right from the control panel makes it popular with the experts.
It’s only real drawback is the inability to scan older creased photos. The Plustek A3 or even the Doxie Go SE might be a strong choice for people who need to do this regularly.
Otherwise, though, you should find plenty to like with the FastFoto as well as it’s included software package.