5 Best Scanners For Your Artwork (Watercolors, Sketches, Paintings, etc.)
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After several hours of research, reading artists first-hand accounts on all the popular scanner types, reviewing forum discussions, and sifting through Amazon verified reviews we found that the Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII was the best scanner for artists.
Not only did the Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII produce accurate color representation, but its versatility, impressive native resolution of 9600 x 9600 dpi and fast startup times made it simply the best overall scanner for artwork.
Whether you intend to scan watercolors, sketches, or small scale paintings, the CanoScan 9000F will not only be a great way to digitally backup your portfolio, but capture your work in the most accurate representation possible.
For those artists on a more restricted budget, we found that the Epson Perfection V39 was a great alternative to the CanoScan 9000F. While not nearly as high in resolution nor packing nearly as many additional software offerings, the Epson V39 was a compact scanner that quickly captured artwork perfect for social media sharing. In addition, the Epson V39 has a removable lid allowing for scans of virtually any sized artwork.
Comparing The Best Scanners For Artwork
|PRODUCT||HARDWARE RESOLUTION||PRICE||COLOR DEPTH||GREYSCALE||MAX SCAN AREA||DIMENSIONS||WEIGHT||SCAN SLIDES OR NEGATIVES|
|Epson Perfection V600||6400 x 9600 dpi||$$$||48-bit||16-bit||8.5″ x 11.7″||11″ x 19″ x 4.6″||9.0 lb||Yes|
|Epson Perfection V370||4800 x 9600 dpi||$$||48-bit||16-bit||8.5″ x 11.7″||11.2″ x 16.9″ x 2.6″||6.2 lb||Yes|
|Canon CanoScan LiDE220||4800 x 4800 dpi||$||48-bit||16-bit||8.5″ x 11.7″||9.9″ x 14.4″ x 1.6″||3.4 lb||No|
|Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII||9600 x 9600 dpi||$$$||48-bit||16-bit||8.5″ x 11.7″||18.9″ x 10.7″ x 4.4″||10.1 lb||Yes|
|Epson Perfection V39||4800 x 4800 dpi||$||48-bit||16-bit||8.5″ x 11.7″||9.9″ x 14.4″ x 1.5″||3.4 lb||Yes|
Why Were Only Epson And Canon Scanners Reviewed?
While this may seem biased from the onset, when looking at all the other manufactures they either had subpar reviews or featured a roller design.
When preserving artwork, passing them through a roller could inadvertently tear fragile surfaces or may induct heat into the scanning process.
This becomes an especially important if you are using a scanner at a professional level and plan on either selling a piece or want it perfectly preserved.
Furthermore, roller type scanners are not compatible with either paintings done on canvas, sketchbooks, or other non-traditional surfaces.
When scanning artwork, you will also want to look for scanners that are flatbed (which Canon and Epson offer quite a few variants) and can produce accurate color reproduction.
Hardware vs. Digital Resolution
One key factor to look out for when selecting the best scanner for artwork will be the native resolution of the scanner itself.
When buying a scanner, we recommend having a resolution of at least 4800 x 4800 dpi. Not only will a scanner of this quality be able to capture the essence of a painting or drawing perfectly, but it will be at an acceptable resolution if you plan on making additional edits to the piece in a photo editing suite.
Now one aspect you may notice when looking at scanners is that there is an additional resolution often stated next to the native resolution. This is often the software enhanced resolution (often referred to as Interpolated).
We often disregard this feature as it’s not a true representation of the original scan as the software has made up data points.
We would never recommend scanning at this increased resolution as the results may become distorted and not match the true original piece when viewed up close.
Film & Slide Scanning Is A Nice To Have Not A Must Have
While not particularly a factor that we were looking for when selecting the best scanner for artwork, however, when looking at the marketplace many scanners are built with photographers in mind.
Therefore, if you plan on using your scanner beyond just capturing your artwork, many of the models we looked at offered trays for old film types including 35mm and slides.
This can be a nice way to share old family photos or even generate inspiration for many artists.
When investing in a brand new scanner, it’s at least worth a consideration if you ever plan on digitizing those old boxes of photographs that are sitting in your basement or attic!
Important Tips To Follow When Scanning Artwork
Scanning artwork is a lot different than scanning a photograph.
Particularly, when scanning watercolors you will always want to press firmly down on the lid as the scan is happening.
This will prevent any of the warped areas of your painting from looking blurry. This becomes especially important if you plan on scanning the pages from your watercolor sketchbook.
Furthermore, for the oil painters looking for a scanner, you will want to make sure that you scan your piece before a varnish is applied.
A matte look to your paint will ensure that the bright LED lamp found in scanners doesn’t produce reflective results when capturing your work.
Reviewing The Best Scanners For Artists
If you are familiar with Canon, chances are that you have heard of their ‘Mark’ line.
Synonymous with uncompromising quality, the CanoScan 9000F Mark II carries on the namesake by providing a scanner that simply delivers breathtaking results.
Featuring the highest resolution of all the scanners on this list at a jaw-dropping 9600 x 9600 dpi (for film), it’s just so easy to forget how far scanners have come in recent years.
Not only will the 9000F provide best in class scans with perfect 48-bit color depth, but the FARE Level 3 technology employed will ensure that the artwork you scan will be free of any defects, dust, or scratches.
When scanning in your artwork, whether its watercolor paintings, drawings, etc. each scan on the 9000F will take about 7 seconds.
This allows you to go through your catalog of artwork and get them posted to your digital portfolio, website, social media channel quickly.
Of all the scanners, the 9000F is definitely a workhorse!
Now depending on the scale of your artwork, the 9000F does feature a standard 8.5” x 11.7” glass plate. Therefore, for artwork outside of this scale, it will need to be scanned in sections and then stitched together in a photo editing software.
To further complicate this, the 9000F’s lid does only open to 90-degrees making it limited in the scale (larger pieces will likely need to be photographed instead of scanned). If you are adamant on scanning very large pieces, then you will want to consider the Epson Perfection V39 as the lid can be completely removed (however, expect a downgrade in resolution quality).
When you aren’t scanning in your artwork daily, the Canon 9000F photo scanning features are second to none. Featuring a transparency unit, you can scan in a wide array of film negatives and slides. You will have a fun time going through old family photos as the 9000F will restore them beautifully.
If there were any major downside to the 9000F, it would be the footprint. At 18.9″ x 10.7″ x 4.4″, it will take a fair bit of surface area that will make even the largest desks feel a bit more cramped.
Lastly, the price.
Unlike the nearly speced Epson Perfection V600, the 9000F does come in quite a bit cheaper (and with more options included).
- Highest resolution available
- Quick 7 second scans
- Transparency unit for film negatives
- Quick start LED
- Modest price
- Large footprint
- Lid opens only to 90-degrees
The Epson Perfection V39 is, without a doubt, the best scanner for student artists and small studios.
Competing directly with the CanoScan LiDE220, the V39 shares many of the same features of its primary competitor.
First off a small footprint size, at only 9.9″ x 14.4″ x 1.5″, the V39 is almost identical size to the LiDE220 except for being just .1” thinner.
Like the LiDE220, the V39 is powered by only a single USB cable, making it not only great for portability, but also for organizational purposes.
While the resolution in the V39 doesn’t match the 9000F, it does still carry an impressive 4800 x 4800 dpi.
But specs aside, what really makes the V39 stand out from every other scanner on this list is the removable lid.
This scanner was designed for large scale paintings.
Without having to battle with a lid getting in the way of your piece, you can scan in sections of your large-scale drawings or paintings onto the standard 8.5” x 11.7” glass panel.
To help your workflow even more, the Epson V39 comes packed with the Epson ArcSoft stitching software (Windows only). This will help to bring your individual scans into one complete picture with perfect quality.
While not featuring a transparency unit nor trays for scanning in negatives, the Epson V39 is a bit limited if you are looking for a scanner to be used in a variety of capacities.
But as an artwork scanner, you just simply can’t beat the form nor the speed of the scans.
After setting up the software that comes with the V39, you can customize the buttons on the front of the scanner and optimize your workflow to share your artwork in only a few clicks.
- Removable lid perfect for large scale pieces
- Compact designed
- Powered through USB
- Easily scan sketchbook work
- Limited uses
- No transparency unit
The Epson Perfection V600 is definitely a worthy contender for being a top-notch scanner for artwork.
When it comes to scanning, the V600 has it all:
- High resolution (6400 x 9600 dpi)
- Ability to scan sketchbooks
- 48-bit color depth
- Incredibly fast scanning speeds
- Improved Epson Photo software
Whether you plan on scanning in vibrant watercolor paintings or grayscale drawings, the Epson V600 will not only provide accurate color reproduction, but will expertly capture the super fine pencil and brush strokes that you originally made when making your artwork.
Furthermore, watercolorists will love that the Epson V600 is also able to capture the natural ripples found in both cold press and rough watercolor paper types.
Of course, if you are looking to remove this natural texture found in watercolor paper, when tuning the image in your favorite photo editor or the Epson ArcSoft software included, you have total control.
One of the most important aspects of scanning artwork will be the resolution. While the V600 is capable of scanning at a resolution of up to 6400 x 9600 dpi (still not as high as the Canon CanoScan 9000F), most artists using this scanner will likely not need go this high – especially if the intent on the scan is for social media sharing.
However, if you want near lossless quality, you will want to make sure you have a computer with ample storage and memory to handle the larger (several hundred MB) files that this scanner produces.
While the focus of this article is finding the best scanner for artwork, for those looking to also use this for personal use, the V600 ability to scan in old photographs is equally impressive.
The built-in transparency lid (accessible by sliding up the document pad) has trays to hold slides, 35mm negatives, and even medium format panoramic film.
When it comes to retouching old photographs, the free DIGITAL ICE software included with the V600 is stellar. What would have cost several hundred dollars of few years ago to have a restoration artist to retouch a photograph, the smart technology employed by Epson now can remove not only dust from old photos, but also surface scratches as well.
The lid on the V600 only opens to 90-degrees. For oversized artwork, you will need to scan it in sections.
Once each section of your artwork has been scanned, you can then stitch it together in your favorite photo editing software.
Lastly, the speed.
While not nearly as important when compared to document scanners, the Epson V600 speed will largely depend on the resolution that you plan on scanning in your artwork at.
For lower (but still amazing looking) resolutions, you can get your artwork scanned into your computer in under 20 seconds. The fast LED bulb that the V600 uses (same found in the other scanners we reviewed) doesn’t require warming up – allowing you to scan your artwork immediately.
- High resolution rivals pro models
- Incredible photo editing software
- Fast scan times
- Ability to scan film
- Compatible with Windows and Mac
- Perfect for watercolors, sketchbooks, drawings, etc.
- Initial setup might be a bit cumbersome
- Larger foot print
There is a lot to love from Canon in this affordable yet powerful scanner.
First off, the form factor.
With a footprint of only 9.9″ x 14.4″ x 1.6″, the LiDE220 is almost the smallest and slimmest scanner we reviewed (the V39 is just 0.1” thinner).
This makes it a perfection option for those artists looking to have a scanner in dorm rooms or cramped living quarters.
Secondly, we really loved that this scanner was powered through USB. This not only makes it extremely portable, but it will be one less cable you need to worry about when setting up the scanner.
But form factor and cables aside, the most important aspect of a scanner is of course the quality of the scan itself.
With a 4800 x 4800 dpi, it’s among the lowest of all the scanners listed in this review.
While not suited for professional work or near lossless archival quality, the lower resolution found in this scanner will still make it terrific for selling prints and posting your work to social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
The accurate color representation will ensure that the vibrant watercolors translate well digitally.
Like the Epson V600, the LiDE220s lid only opens to a 90-degree angle. Therefore, if you plan on scanning in larger pieces of work, you won’t have the full flexibility found in either the Epson V39 or Epson V370, but you should still be able to stitch together the artwork in either the photo editing software included by Canon or through your favorite photo editor.
As was mentioned earlier, the LiDE220 is a barebones scanner. While it can scan in old photographs, there is no transparency unit or tray included for scanning 35mm film negatives or slides.
But given the sub $100 price tag, it’s still a great value for artists looking to scan in their drawings or paintings.
- Compact size
- Powered through USB
- Perfect for beginners
- Scans in about 10 seconds
- 5 Easy buttons
- Not the highest resolution compared to others
- No transparency unit
The biggest art-friendly feature of this scanner especially when compared to the other scanners we reviewed (with the only exception being the Epson V39), is the that the V370 lid can lay completely flat (as opposed to a 90-degree angle).
With this unique design, you truly can scan in your artwork at any size. Once scanned you can bring it to the included Epson ArcSoft Scan-n-Stitch software (or your preferred photo editing software) and have a perfect digital representation of your work.
But where the V370 falls behind compared to some of the others we reviewed will be its resolution quality.
At only 4800 x 9600 dpi, it’s definitely not at the top of our list when it comes to resolution (that award goes to the Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII), however, if you are just starting to build a collection of your portfolio, this still should be enough.
But not all is lost:
Unlike the other higher end scanners on the market that carry a price tag north of $200, the V370 costs only a fraction of the price at around $109 (at the time of publishing).
Making it one of the best value scanners you can buy (with the only exception to this being the Canon LiDE220).
When you aren’t scanning in your artwork, the V370 does come with a tray that can scan in both your 35mm film negatives and old slides – allowing for great digital archival of old family memories.
The speed of the scanner isn’t nearly as fast as some of the others reviewed, however, if you aren’t scanning several hundred pieces of artwork or photos, then it probably won’t be a big deal for most.
Lastly, the scan to cloud button is a wholly underrated feature. Not only will the artwork that you scan be instantly accessible everywhere (great for sharing with others from your smartphone), but also will back up the photos as well.
- Great value scanner
- 180-degree lid great for large scale artwork
- Accurate color representation
- Instant-on design
- Can scan slides and 35mm negatives
- Not the best resolution
- Bulky design