Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scanning Layouts

One of the biggest frustrations among scrappers is that there is no company that makes a 12x12 scanner.  Very large flatbed scanners do exist that could accommodate the 12x12 page in a single scan, but they come with a large price tag ($2000+) to match their format.  For those of us who can't justify that but still want the clean look of scanned layouts, we have no choice but to scan and stitch.

I own the Microtek ScanMaker 4800.  I bought it around 12 years ago and it's served me very well over the years.  Considering it was under $100, I'd say I've more than gotten my money's worth!  It's a typical desktop scanner with an 8.5 x 11.7 scanning surface.  Since I am unwilling to chop 0.3 inches off the edge of my layouts, the only way to end up with a complete scan is to scan all four quadrants and stitch them together.

To do this, I use ArcSoft Scan-n-Stitch Deluxe.  It's a bare-bones program with an extremely simple user interface.  It has 5 scanning choices: Legal Size Page, A3 page, Scrapbook Page, Long Page, and Poster Size Page.  You simply click one and it shows you what scans to do.  After my four scans, I click the button that says 'stitch' and my layout magically pops into place.  The price is currently $39.99.  When I got it, it was $19.99, which was a no-brainer.  At $20, I love it.  At $40, I'd still recommend it but not as enthusiastically. 

My only hesitation with giving full marks to the software is that sometimes the stitching fails.  Despite getting four good scans, there are times when they don't come together perfectly.  Sometimes I redo it and it is perfect.  Other times, I try three or more times and it fails in exactly the same location.  This is an example of a stitch that repeatedly failed:

(Inspired by Jessica Sprague's digital layout "Dude", CK Sept 2009)

It may not be readily apparent at this size (though my eye goes right to it), but there is a weird blip in the upper right hand corner.  That bugs me.  A lot.  But after I've tried repeatedly and get the same error, there comes a point when I just have to accept it.  Fortunately, this is rare.  Less than 5% of my scans have a problem.

I'll continue using my Microtek scanner and ArcSoft stitching software until that glorious day when someone manufactures an affordable 12x12 scanner.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a cool program! I photo then edit my lo's using Picasa! :):):):):):):)

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  2. There's specially built equipment in the photo world to do exactly what Julie suggests: it's called a "copy stand". It helps to keep your camera square with what you're photographing. Some even come with built in lights. The cheapest I found was $30 at Adorama:
    http://www.adorama.com/CECS305.html

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  3. I sometimes use a scanner for really flat layouts and then photostitch. I don't really like how it looks on dimensional objects though. I live in a place where it's summer all year long so I just take a photo and edit in photoshop. It's faster. I know that using a lightbox will get me the professional look that I like but I would need a really big one for 12 x 12 layouts and space to set it up. Ahh..when I actually have a scraproom!

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  4. I may have to give this a whirl. I go the old fashioned way and photograph my pages but then I have the problem of wonky photos.

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  5. Steve already bursted my bubble about the affordable 12x12 scanner, lol. You know what I really want is the all in one printer that can scan AND print 12x12, a girl can dream :) I did buy that stich software but I did not have very good luck with it, most of my projects looked like this one or worse nearly everytime. :(
    I just keep taking pictures of them instead, it works ok. I will have to look into that thing Steve was talking about. . .

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