Last June, we scanned in this beautiful original piece of canvas artwork by local artist John Maitland. We have been doing picture framing for John for years now, but after he was commissioned by a Brisbane-based Catholic school to not only create this piece but also provide prints, he asked us what we could do.
Originally, we had thought to photograph it - being 1300mm wide and 1800mm high, it would make for a very difficult scanning process. However, without a very expensive setup and a professional camera for art reproduction, standard digital SLR photos produce sub-par results that require a lot of colour correction. This method doesn't capture the fine details and textures that you get from an original piece of art.
So we opted to scan it in on our professional Epson V700 scanner, which is only A4 (210 x 297mm). At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that it would only require approximately 36 to 49 scans (6 x 6 or 7 x 7 A4 sized scans to capture 1300 x 1800mm). However, when scanning large pieces like this, you need a healthy amount of 'overlap' so that you can join each individual scan easily. So instead of around 7 scans at 210mm wide to a 1300mm wide row, we captured around 12 or 13 each time, and instead of 7 scans at 297mm high to the 1800mm height, we played it safe and scanned 13 rows. This resulted in approximately 150 individual A4 scans and around 4 hours work!
Above you can see each of the 13 rows before they were merged together into the final piece that you see at the top of this article. So each one of the 13 rows above are actually made up of around 12 A4 scans.
This is the process required to capture the detail and allow for an accurate final file. We would scan a single row of 12 in, and then merge it together before starting the next row, to ensure nothing had been missed. Once that was confirmed, we would move onto the next row, allowing around 100mm of overlap. This overlap can be seen on the strips above - note the subjects eyes are in the first and second rows on the left, and even slightly on the third row.
The image above shows the texture that scanning allows us to capture. You just wouldn't get this kind of detail from a standard photograph. This level of texture across the entire piece allows for an incredibly detailed print, and the colours are captured perfectly too (look at the gold in the image above!). We printed a limited edition run of these prints at 500 x 700mm on our Epson fine art printer on a beautiful, heavyweight, textured cotton rag paper. John signed and numbered each individual print.
Here's a photo of the actual original piece of artwork hanging at the school: