How To Scan and Extract Items

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How To Scan and Extract Items

I'm hoping to get a new scanner soon, and I was wondering if there's a standard method to be used for scanning and extracting. Up to this point I've just been using my camera, and I'm excited to be able to step up my game.

I think my biggest question is what resolution to scan on and then how/when to shrink it down to 300dpi.

I usually only scan flat things. You can get some fuzziness in areas where the items recedes away from the scanner bed. Having said that, you can get away with it sometimes if you scan at a high enough resolution. I've scanned some things as high as 1200dpi, extracted, and then resized to 300dpi when I was finished.

As with the rest, scan as high as you can with your scanner. Use the scanner utilities, use the histogram if there is one to adjust the color. Fix, repair what has been scanned. Than save as needed. The higher dpi when scanner make it easier to do repairs and extract.

I'd echo what Cat said about scanning flat things. I've had to throw out some commercial-use things I bought because the designer obviously didn't know or didn't care that there was some extreme fuzziness caused by the way she scanned it. Photographing definitely works better for items with depth, most of the time. But if your scanner is really good, that might not matter. smiley

Thanks for all the tips!

One other thing I forgot to mention, and Fran's mention that her scanner goes up to 96000dpi is that you want to get a scanner that has a higher optical scan resolution. My scanner will go up to 19200dpi, but that's digital resolution. Its the same thing as with your camera. For example, my camera has a max zoom of 10X, but the optical zoom is only 4X. You will get better scans using the optical resolution because it is essentially taking a picture. The digital resolution is stretching the picture and using mathematical algorithms to interpolate the colours of the pixels so it won't be as good quality as the optical resolution.

One other thing to mention, although I scan things using at least 1200 dpi, there are times that more is not better. Sometimes when you scan so high you actually don't get as good of results as if you were to use 600 dpi. I found that I many times scan at multiple levels...600dpi, 1200dpi and 2400dpi...then you have better chances at getting the perfect scan. I also tried to take photos with my camera using manual, macro, etc for those things that had depth without as good of results as I had with my scanner, although fabric textures with pile didn't do as well with a scanner. This discovery was made after photographing buttons, ribbons and shells for over 8 hours (in two days) and then suffering major back pains for several days later. My buttons, ribbons and shells ended up being perfect with the scanner...wish I had known that before taking out my camera.

A good scanner is a must. I have both an all in one photo scanner by Epson and an Epson Perfection 600 Photo scanner and I found that the Perfection produced much better scans than the all in one.

The most usefull tip I have ever got about scanning was: Get a "scanning kit" with a black and a white piece of paper or cloth with the size of your scan bed (I use cardstock) and a piece of dark heavy cloth that covers your entire scanner (I use black felt). After placing the piece you want to scan on the bed, you put the paper that contrast more (black or white) over it and close the scan bed. Then, you cover the scanner in a way no light can enter through the space close to the scanner bed (even a ribbon can make a very tiny space between the bed and the cover) - to make this step either I use tape to fix the felt on the scanner, or put something havy, like a can, pressing the felt against the scanner in a way the light can´t get into it), and only then you scan. I keep my scanning kit always close to my scanner, so I don´t need to look for a caardstock and a cloth every time I deceide to scan something.

My best scans were all taken on 600 dpi...

To extract my weapon of choice is my wacon bamboo with lhasso tool.

I have good luck scanning at 1200 dpi. This way I can size accordingly. I use extraction tools in Photoshop.

Wonderful everyone! Thanks for all the tips.

Thanks for all the wonderful tips! My birthday is coming up in a few days and I suspect my present from my hubby will be a scanner! All your tips will be very helpful, so keep them coming!

Thanks for the tips, too! I had pulled out one of my photo albums just the other night (was showing some of my fun college pics to my oldest) & the photos were falling out & all... First thought that came to mind was I need to scan these photos, scrap them & then send them off to a printer to be made into a book.

I've always wondered how people scan and extract items. This is interesting information. I've never done it before because I think it would take forever to extract things. Are there tricks to extracting quickly/quicker?

Round ellies: I was absolutely astonished when I learned that professional designers use the eliptical marquee tool to help extracting buttons and other perfect round ellies. you just use it and then go on select>transform selection and do tiny adjustments. Then select>inverse and delete. Simple like that. and I never thought of it before reading it on SNP design mentoring material, by Lori.

About the other kinds of ellements, yes, you need patience!

I've been struggling with this all night and I think it's time to call in the experts smiley Even though several people have advised to stick to flat things, Janet's story with the photographing till her back hurt stuck in my head, so I decided to give scanning a couple of buttons a try. They come out wonderfully sharp, no fuzziness anywhere. But.... I keep getting this nasty reflection of the scanner light bouncing of the button itself (a little rainbow in all the white parts). Darn. I have tried every scanning tip in the book. I am beginning to think scanners just do this to shiny stuff. Anyone have any experience with this? Should I just chuck them and photograpgh the lot (there are hundreds, please don't make me do that smiley )

I now have lots of really sharplooking buttons. Even if I can't get the flares out with the scanner, maybe someone here knows of a Photoshop tip to get them out? I would be so grateful!

Most scanners come with a white background which can reflect in light. In areas whear it is very hot they say to wear white to reflect the sun off. This sound like what is happening. You might try putting a dark color ontop of the buttons, so the white does not show. Than select each button by itself, so that you do not have any reflections from any other objects.

I tried with a white and a black background, but the scanner light seems to be reflected by the button itself, since the background didn't make any difference. I'll try scanning separate ones and let you know how I get on.

Is there such a thing as non-reflective plastic that you could place between the buttons and the light source?

Oooh, buttons...

I've had a few similar problems, and I haven't been paying close attention, but I think scanning them individually has helped, as well as switching to a dark background. Let me know how it goes for you.

@Harriet, could you expand on the non-reflective plastic? I have no idea what you mean... a sort of milky plastic?

What about layering with quilt batting or a towel? I don't do much scanning and extracting but maybe that will fill the holes and lessen the shadows???

Since I don't usually scan something and then extract, I am so learning a lot. I am a sketch, drawing-that is what I offer But you may be opening up more to me. I Never knew about 3-d items being better with A camera. thank-you!

I usually have scanned at 360 since that's what my Epson prints best at. If I want the item bigger I increase the size rather than the resolution. Reading this topic makes me wonder if I've been doing it all wrong. Most scans are for photo prints though. I don't do much extracting yet. will be reading the topic more closely and saving it for when I might want to scan elements!

I know exactly what you're talking about. So far I haven't been able to figure out how to change that reflective glare. I usually end up tweaking the final scan in Photoshop.

A small clone or healing brush can help greatly for small areas. If you're able to select a portion and use the content aware fill option (make a rectangle or any other shape selection, then hit delete and enter) that can also be a quick way to get rid of problem areas. One last thing that I do (if it's a solid color button) is use a paintbrush with a soft blending mode and a low opacity. Use the color selector to get the color of a 'good' nearby area and then paint over problem areas.

I'll be interested to see if other people have suggestions on how to fix it right in the scanner. That would be so much less time consuming!

Melouise, sorry I haven't been back to this thread in a while. I don't have specifics about the non-reflective plastic. It is just a theory of mine, so far, but it seems a sheet of matte finish plastic (as from a photo album) might cut the glare without diminishing the scan quality too much. I don't scan a lot of 3D objects so this is just guess work on my part.

With the button glare, have you tried turning down the lighting within the scanner? Our old scanner, just a scanner - no 3 in one, had the ability to tweak brightness and contrasts, just like a nice camera can set the intensity of the flash. I found through the years that often times the scanner software was the best to tweak in! I'd scan at regular and then without disturbing the item scan again after tweaking the brightness, ours had a preview scan that was helpful for this. My dads first "stand alone" scanner did not have good software AT ALL! So there were even times that I'd take a few of his scans and tweak within my software.

So if you can do it, I'd even ask around to see if the store has a copy running, just so you can see the software!

As said before, there are times when highest dpi is NOT the best. I found that often maxing out at 1600 was to much and that 600 to 700 dpi would be enough to give better "grain/texture" representative of the actual item. There are things that it's best to get tripod and camera out with.

Also I use GIMP, and sometimes I've found that instead of white or black it was better for extracting items to use a neon cardstock behind the item, so that the colors are not going to be present within the subject being scanned. Other times I wanted to use a pastel blue because there was no getting around a slight glare streak, and blue is a tone that is more natural, remembering this form art portraits.

Sometimes this type of work is SO item specific ... Ugh!

I have tried all your tips and this is what I got:
- changing the background color: no difference at all
- scanning seperately: takes out the glares a little, but I still see the scanner light reflection
- covering with non-reflective plastic: ended up with the plastic "grain" showing and dulled out the colors and contrast
- layering with towel: lessens the shadows, but didn't take out the reflections
- touching up seperate buttons in PS: works! But I have 118 buttons to digitize...
- turning down the scanner lights: my scanner doesn't have that option

In the end, I took out my DSLR with macrolens and tripod. Worked like a charm... smiley

I did scan a bundle of pretty ribbons though. Turned out gorgeous. Still love my scanner smiley

I like the cloth and cardstock idea. I have tried something similar that worked pretty well. Extraction, now that is another story!

Looking forward to your buttons!

@Judy, thank you so much for the tip on adjusting your scanner settings. I'd never dug into the settings before and was astonished at the difference. My photoshop time will be so much less now. Thank you!!!

Thank you all for the great info! Does anyone know of a good action for PSE10 that would help locate and remove stray pixels and rough edges?