Best Scanner for Scanning Art

woman holding a watercolor painting. Surrounded by paints and other finished paintings.

Curious about the best scanner for scanning art? I am in the market for a scanner for turning my artwork into printable art that I can sell. I may not be an expert in this topic, but I did the research and I'm sharing it here with you. If you need to know what kind of scanner to use for your art, or what the best artwork scanner is, this post will give you the answer.

Why Use a Scanner for Scanning Art?

My Etsy shop is still evolving, as are my artistic interests, but lately I've been creating physical artwork – mixed media, acrylic abstract, monoprinting – and I need a way to get that into my computer so that I can sell it.

Printables are the way to go, in my opinion, if you want to make selling your art as easy as possible.

I'm not interested in selling original art at this time. Shipping originals stresses me out a bit, plus I tend to paint on paper, sometimes on cardboard boxes or other recycled things.

I like the idea of turning one painting into something that I can sell multiple times, in multiple formats. And for those reasons, I need my paintings to get into my computer!

What Type of Art Can you Scan?

Scanning is the best method for digitizing smaller artwork (around 8 x10), but it can be used for larger pieces too if you have the skills to stitch it together after scanning it in pieces. Most affordable scanners won't be able to scan large art. A large format printer will be expensive and also takes up a lot of room.

Art with a lot of texture won't scan extremely well, depending on the type of scanner you use. The reason that I'm looking to buy a new scanner for my art is that my acrylic paintings and collage work are fairly textured, and the scans I'm getting have blurry spots where that texture is. Simple scanners are amazing for line work, photos, watercolor, and other art that is two dimensional.

Young female artist lying on carpet at home, top view

Can I Scan Art with a Home Printer Scanner?

You can! But keep reading to see what you should look for when buying a printer and scanner to use for your art business.

I am currently using an HP Envy Photo 6255. This is my all-purpose printer and I'm very pleased with it as a printer. I especially love the Instant Ink system. I pay a monthly fee for printing, and they send ink when I'm running out. It's super convenient and not as expensive as it sounds.

I've read a ton of reviews and lists of the best scanners for artwork, and none of them recommended any HP products.

Scanning with this printer is ok, but I'm finding some trouble recently scanning artwork with texture. This is an older HP scanner model that I don't think is being made anymore. Looking at the specs, I think that It should be able to handle my art better than it has been, but since it's older, it may just be time for an upgrade. I will likely try to stay with HP for printing because of the ink set up and get a separate flatbed scanner for my art.

Choosing a Scanner to Scan Artwork

Here are the things you should look for and compare when choosing a scanner to buy for scanning your art:

  1. Bit Depth: Also known as color depth, this is a number that represents the number of bits in a single pixel. You want the highest possible bit depth. 32 bits is ideal, but 16 can be enough. Avoid buying a scanner that can only do 8-bit.
  2. Resolution: This is where you'll see the DPI that you can get from your scanner. Both the color and clarity of your images will depend on the dots-per-inch. The standard recommended for clear images is 600×600 DPI. Anything less than that will be unacceptable for scanning art.
  3. Scanner Type: I don't want to get too technical here, but there are two basic types of scanner technology. CIS scanners are the kind that make fax machines work. They can scan things, but not with enough detail. CCD scanners (charged coupled device) use camera technology and is what you want for digitizing art. You'll get better color, better focus, and better lighting.
  4. File Format: Serious artists should look for a scanner that can produce TIFF files as well as JPEGS. TIFF is the preferred file format for CMYK (printing) color schemes and will give you the best color reproduction. For most things, Jpeg will work just fine, but if you envision bigger things for your art, keep this in mind.

There are other things you will want to look into depending on your own preferences. Things like scanning speed can be important to your work process. You may also want a scanner that is wireless so that you can use it somewhere other than next to your computer. Finally, you will see scanners that can read multiple sizes. For my purposes, I'm looking for a scanner that can scan letter/legal sized papers at a minimum.

Ok, so to sum this up, the Scanner that I'm looking for should have:

Bit Depth of 24 – 32

600×600 DPI or higher

a CCD scanner

Scans at least letter sized paper

and maybe be able to create tiff files.

I'm also looking for a flatbed scanner that is under $300. And I'd like to pay less than that if possible!

Great! Let's shop for a scanner for my paintings!

Quality Printer/Scanner Combos for Scanning Art

As an artist or crafter, you need to be able to print things. Postage labels, invoices, stickers, etc. Buying a scanner that is also a printer is a good way to save space and potentially money.

Epson EcoTank Photo – They call it the Printer for Creatives

Epson is a well-known and well-respected printer brand among artists, and many who you talk to will tell you that they use an Epson to create their art prints. These printers and scanners are on the expensive side, but worth it.

The scanner on the Ecotank photo is 4800 dpi, 48-bit, so it's much higher than my minimum requirements! It comes in two sizes, one that prints up to 8.5″x11″ and one that prints up to 13″x19″. I'd definitely choose the larger one if possible! The ink on this printer is professional photographic dye ink and you can print borderless prints on fine art paper, vellums, poster board, and vinyl. This system is also cartridge free. Bottles of ink are used to refill the printer, reducing plastic waste.

The Epson EcoTank Photo will cost you more than $500. This is actually not the best printer/scanner that Epson has to offer though. It's a mid-range product from them. Depending on what you need, I think that the Ecotank Photo can be an excellent option for scanning and printing your original art.

Budget Friendly Option – HP Envy Photo or the new HP Envy Inspire

The next best scanner for scanning art may be from HP. Both of these models have similar specs when it comes to the scanners: You can scan files in multiple file types, up to 1200 dpi, and they have a bit depth of 24 bits. These are inexpensive options, and very similar to the machine that I already have. Like I said, it works, but I think it can work better!

Is It Better to Scan Artwork or Photograph it For Prints?

This is a question that comes up often, and I think that the answer lies in your equipment and its ability to capture your artwork and its details.

For small artworks that are relatively flat (without texture), I think that a high resolution scanner can be the best way to easily digitize your art.

A scanner can be used for watercolor art, illustrations, and other paintings on paper or unwrapped canvas.

For larger pieces of art, photographing them can work much better. For very large pieces, you may even want to photograph each quarter of the piece and then put them together in photoshop or another photo editing software to create one large file.

Remember, the goal will always be to take the most detailed, highest resolution image as possible, so that it can be sized for prints.

Can I Take Pictures of Art with My Phone to Make Prints?

You can, as long as your camera takes good pictures. I recently upgraded my phone for exactly this reason. I had an older Samsung Note8, and the photos were not great. I upgraded all the way to the SamsungS22 Ultra, and I'm AMAZED at the photo quality.

I can now take photos of all of my artwork using my S22 Ultra phone, which is super convenient!

Remember that lighting is important when taking photographs of art. I use these table lights plus an overhead light to create a well-lit space.

Should I Edit My Artwork After Scanning or Photographing It?

Absolutely! I almost always tweak things a bit using Photoshop before I decide that it's done. Usually, I enhance the colors a bit and make sure that the lighting is even.

You can even adjust the art so much that you can create different print versions of the same piece.

So, What is the Best Scanner for Scanning Art?

Buy the best scanner that you can reasonably afford. Remember that you are investing in a tool for your business that will allow you to more easily sell your art online.

Here is a recap of what we talked about in this article on Scanners for Artwork:

  • Consider the Epson EcoTank Photo as an excellent option. Buy the bigger scanner if you can.
  • For a more budget friendly choice, look into the HP Envy Photo or the new HP Envy Inspire.
  • If it's time for a phone upgrade, consider the Samsung S22 Ultra. I love mine!
  • FedEx Kinkos and OfficeDepot can scan your artwork for you. Call around for pricing, but this is a good option if you aren't sure yet if selling prints is right for you and your art business.

Binge crafter is here to help you make money using your crafty gifts and skills! If you love this craft idea, please leave a comment and let me know. I'd also love to know what you've been making lately!

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