Is scanning or photographing artwork better for reproductions?

You want to make your painting or drawing into a full size reproduction, or maybe made into art cards. How do you know if you should get your artwork scanned or get it captured (digitally photographed)?


Scanning provides much higher resolution images – up to 6400 dpi – wow! That’s great resolution for printing. There is no need to focus a scanner, as the scanner sensor passes about 1″ away from your work of art, and everything is always in focus. It’s so sharp we often see the hairs from your cat or dog and even the actual fibres of the support you are working on. Colour calibration is also tightly controlled due to the consistent lighting conditions. We can scan just about any size image too! Scanning is best for works of art that are matte or low gloss, such as watercolour, pastel, charcoal, pencil, crayon, wax, oil sticks, line art, etc.


Capturing is best for works of art that are glossy or have 3D elements (such as mosaics). Oil and acrylic paintings are generally going to be photographed instead of scanned because they usually have a glossy surface. When capturing large paintings with varnish or shiny material, we polarize the lighting to drastically reduce reflection and thus burn-out of highlights. Resolution is from 260 dpi to 360 dpi at 100%, much lower than scanning, but well within the optimum resolution for 100% reproductions. We have finely tuned our system and profiles to get stunning results when photographing artwork. We do recommend that you bring your paintings in for capture before you varnish so that there is less glare to contend with in the photography process.

We are always happy to discuss your particular scanning and capture needs and will tailor our approach to your desired results. Stop by our studio in downtown Victoria, BC or contact us and we’ll get you started!