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Should I scan or photograph my artwork myself?

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Question: Should I scan or photograph my artwork myself?
Answer: Yes and no. A good professional printer will have a drum scanner, which produces the best results for fine art reproduction. The sensor system in drum scanners is less prone to electronic noise, and more sensitive to density variation, producing more detail in shadows with less visible grain than flatbed scans. For best results have your work professionally photographed, providing positive transparencies - 35mm is acceptable, but choose a larger format if available - to the printer for scanning. Very good results can also be obtained with professional standard flatbed scanning of your artwork, with the print shop's scanner being callibrated for their specific requirements.

For small prints, where high resolution is not so critical, or if you just want a few copies and need to keep costs down, you can create a print from your own digital file using your desktop scanner. Scan your image at as high a resolution as possible - for best results you'll want 300 dpi output, 350 or higher for fine detail. Resampling a lower resolution file doesn't give good results - you need a high resolution scan to ensure all the detail in your drawing is captured.

Digital photographs can be particularly problematic, rarely giving enough detail for successful printing, though some of the more sophisticated models - 5 megapixels and above, with high quality optics - may produce acceptable results. If you are confident in your photographic skills, with access to good quality studio equipment, you can certainly take your own photographs, but otherwise, its best left to the experts. Remember - the final image can only be as good as the source data that the printer has to work with.

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