Whether you want to make high-quality reproductions for your portfolio, either physical or digital, sell your originals online on Etsy or in your own shop, or make your own beautiful archival art prints, you will definitely need an art scanner for artwork. So let’s have a look at which one you should get!
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Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need an Art Scanner as an Artist?
- How is an Art Scanner Different from other Scanners out there?
- Overview: 6 Best Scanners for Art in 2022
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Art Scanners
Almost every artist needs a scanner, and there are so many uses for a good art scanner that once you get yours you won’t know how you got by without it!
See, the thing is, there are tons of different scanners available, but the scanning process for an artist is, or at least should be, very different from what many other people do, so we need to focus on just the best scanner for artwork and artists, not just another document scanner.
So let’s do just that, with a look at exactly what kind of scanner you will need – and why so many scanners out there may not work that well for you.
Then I’ll show you my choices for the six best scanners for art on the market today.
Why Do You Need an Art Scanner as an Artist?
Again, there may be a lot of reasons that you want to scan your artworks:
To display your traditional artworks online
To sell on Etsy or your own online shop; for a digital portfolio or your website; for art challenges and so on.
To work on your artwork digitally
To make a digital copy of your physical art so that you can edit, add effects, merge different works, play, and experiment – well, the possibilities are really endless!
To print copies of your original artworks
For your portfolio; as a sales piece for Etsy, your own online store, or gifts; to hang in your studio or home – with or without digital manipulation.
(Please also see my article on the Best Printer for Art Prints, Etsy, Fine Art and Photos in 2022)
To make digital copies for other reasons
For cataloging; to see your work from another perspective; to share your art with colleagues or clients, and much more …
Whatever you use your art scanner for, you need to make sure you get one that’s good for you and for scanning artwork. And artists who get a scanner end up using it all the time, and for a lot more than they might have imagined!
How is an Art Scanner Different from other Scanners out there?
I am really shocked at how many other guides out there are recommending scanners for artists that, well, won’t work for artists at all …
Because we artists need things a little different, and the average office & document scanner may just not work. Specifically, as artists, we need:
Excellent Color Range and Accuracy
As artists, we work hard to get just the right colors and color shifts and values and want to make sure that really comes through when we scan our art. Quality art scanners support us in this task by providing an excellent color range and accuracy!
Not just for complex or highly detailed art, a really high resolution scanner will make even simple pieces appear on the screen with sharpness, impact, and clarity – providing a sense of life and depth!
Artists don’t just paint and draw on thin, normal office paper. No, wait, in fact, we never do!
So when you see a document-feed scanner being recommended for artists, run away as quickly as possible.
A flatbed scanner will accommodate canvas, sketchbooks, heavy paper, and even the occasional forearm tattoo :).
Without spending a mint, unfortunately even the best art scanners usually only have A4/letter size scanning areas – around 8.5 by 11+ inches.
But they should a least have a flat bed – no document feed scanners, please! – and a high-rise lid (or even a removable one) so we can scan larger artwork section by section and stitch it together in digital software of our choice (Photoshop, anyone?).
Now we do want some of the same things as everybody else – a well-made scanner that is easy to use, durable and reliable, and of great value – we may even want to use it sometimes for scanning documents and other boring stuff…
Luckily, there are a lot of great choices for art scanners – high quality machines at affordable prices that will work with the different media and different sizes and that will always faithfully capture the full detail, color, depth – even the feeling and energy – of our original creations.
How Can You Find the Best Scanner for Your Needs and Your Artwork?
Or, more specifically, how can you find the best scanner for scanning paintings, the best scanner for scanning watercolors, the best scanner for scanning pastels, oil pencils, pen and ink, charcoal, or any other medium – especially among the seemingly hundreds and hundreds of choices?
So I’ve put together this artists’ guide of the very best scanners for artwork and artists of all types.
I draw upon my own experience and the experience, and feedback of lots of my friends, colleagues, students and other artists, to find a great scanner choice in any price range – from the best budget scanner to the best high-end scanner and everything in between.
Regardless of how you create your art, these scanners will capture it, and will also offer ease of use, the right features, reliability, and great value.
So let’s look at the six best scanners for artwork that are available on the market today.
Overview: 6 Best Scanners for Art in 2022
- Epson Expression 12000XL-GA Flatbed Scanner
- Epson Perfection V850 Flatbed Color Scanner
- Epson Perfection V39
- Epson Perfection V600
- Plustek OS1180 A3 Flatbed Scanner
Large Format Flatbed Scanner (>12” x 17”, A3+) :: Excellent Resolution :: Great Color Accuracy and Depth :: Superb Range of Light :: Perfect for Large Artwork
Very High Resolution :: Incredible Color Accuracy and Depth :: Great Black & White and Grayscale Scanning Maximum Resolution 4800 x 6400 DPI
Color Flatbed Scanner :: Removable Lid :: High Resolution :: Great Colors :: Easy to Use :: Automatic Scan-To-Cloud
Color Flatbed Scanner :: Next Level Color Accuracy and Resolution :: High-Rise Lid for Books and Canvases :: High Speed
Large Format (A3 - 11” x 17”) Flatbed Scanner :: Great for Larger Artwork :: Fast Scanning :: Good Color and Resolution :: Mac and Windows Compatible
Best Entry Level Scanner for Artwork
The Epson Perfection V39 is my choice for the best entry-level scanner for artists, and as a first scanner or a backup it offers an almost absurdly good value!
No, you are not going to get the ultimate image scan quality from a scanner that retails for this low price, and the build quality is not quite as substantial as other models on this list of best scanners for artwork and artists, but for the money this is, nonetheless, a remarkable unit.
In fact, the Epson Perfection V39 has similar resolution and color depth specifications as the more expensive scanners below, and find the scanned images surprisingly good and attractive.
But it’s not just me. Many artists and photographers wax poetically about the resolution and detail and, maybe even more often, the beauty of the colors the Epson V-39 captures.
It is also an extremely easy scanner to use, has a removable lid for working with thick pieces, oversized artwork and books, and has lots of automatic features, like for scanning directly to the internet for posting or for archival purposes.
While not the ideal choice for the most discerning artist and graphic designer, the Epson Perfection V39 Flatbed Scanner offers unbelievable performance and satisfaction for the money, and is a highly useful and versatile scanner that works well every time and should last and last.
Pros & Cons of Epson Perfection V39 as an art scanner
- Great image quality for the money
- Easy to use
- Removable hi-rise lid for thick pieces, oversized artworks, and books
- Direct to cloud scanning
- Stitching software for oversized artwork out of the box
- At its size and weight, it becomes a handy portable scanner I can take with me when I am traveling
- It’s slower with scanning, but that’s not a bad thing if you want high resolution scans (DPI)
- The image quality is not as good as with more expensive scanners, however, that’s expected at this price point
Tech Features of Epson Perfection V39 Scanner
- CIS (Contact Imaging Sensor) Scanning Technology
- 4,800 x 4,800 DPI (dots per inch) Maximum Resolution
- Bit Depth: Color: 48 bits internal / 24 bits external :: Grayscale: 16 bits internal / 8 bits external
- Maximum Scan Area: 8.5″ x 11.7″ (A4)
Best Value Scanner for Artwork
The Epson Perfection V600 Color Flatbed Scanner is my choice for best step-up scanner for artwork and artists, offering significantly improved image quality over entry-level scanners for not that much more money.
With all of the features and enhancements you might expect from an Epson photo scanner, this is really a great budget scanner for any photographer – even a professional.
This is a photo scanner, and has tons of features any photographer would love – including automatic image enhancements, damage repair and the ability to beautifully scan film – slides and negatives – as well as color and black and white photographs.
But I include it on my list of best scanners for artists because the images it pulls from my original artwork are truly beautiful!
The V600 offers excellent specifications for the price – a full 6400 x 9600 dots per inch resolution and 48 bit color depth. But, as is so often the case, these numbers – impressive as they are – don’t do it justice.
I have used this scanner in many different situations, and can attest to the fidelity it offers to the original source material, with tons of detail, sharpness and depth, accurate colors and shading, and an overall nice sense of balance and flow.
And when you look on the screen you see something beyond all that – the scanned image just comes alive, really representing whatever made the original artwork so special.
More expensive scanners may offer slightly better specifications on paper, but they just don’t always get it.
The Epson Perfection V600 does, and for the price that’s pretty amazing
Pros & Cons of Epson Perfection V600 as an art scanner
- Wonderful image quality for the price point
- Can scan very fast if you need it to
- Easy to use
- Delivers reliable, and consistent scan results
- Not as durable as professional scanners
Tech Features of Epson Perfection V600 Scanner
- MatrixCCD (Charge Couple Device) 12 Line Color Sensor
- ReadyScan Fast warm-up LED Light
- 3.4 Dmax for surprisingly complete detail in highlights and shadows
- Maximum Resolution: 6400 x 9600 DPI (dots per inch)
- Bit Depth: Color: 48 bit :: B&W: 16 bit
- Maximum Scan Area: 8.5″ x 11.7″ (A4)
Affordable A3 Large Format Scanner for Artwork
The Plustek OpticSlim A3 Flatbed Scanner is my choice for the best affordable large format scanner for artwork and artists.
Plustek is maybe not as well known a brand name as others on our list of 6 best color scanners for artists, but the innovative Taiwanese company has been around for almost 35 years now, offering a wide variety of scanning, imaging and other products.
And the Plustek OS 1180 Flatbed Color Scanner is a great example of the kind of value they offer – a full A3 scanner, it accepts artwork or documents up to 11.7 by 17 inches – a large format scanning solution for a very low price!
This Plustek OpticSlim does not offer the high resolution of other choices in our scanner buyer’s guide, but its 1,200 x 1,200 DPI is sufficient for accurate and attractive working copies, nice display images for computer screens and internet use, and for creating a decent quality portfolio or archive of your work.
And, if you are scanning larger pieces, you might well find that this Plustek scanner offers even better results than trying to stitch together sections scanned from smaller, higher priced scanners.
With plenty of automatic image manipulation software built in, as well as a simple user interface, the Plustek OS flatbed color scanner is a great choice for both PC and Mac users, and a great bargain to boot!
Pros & Cons of Plustek OS1180 as an art scanner
- Amazing value for a large format scanner
- Reliable and well built
- Very easy to use
- Delivers better image quality than specs or price would suggest
- Not the best image quality at this price point – but possibly the best for such an inexpensive A3 scanner
Tech Features of Plustek OS 1180 Scanner
- Full A3 capability – maximum media size 11.7 by 17 inches
- CIS (Contact Imaging Sensor) Image Sensor
- Low heat, fast-on LED light source
- Maximum Resolution: 1,200 x 1,200 DPI (dots per inch)
- Bit Depth: Color: 48-bit input, 24-bit output :: Grayscale: 16-bit input, 8-bit output
Superb Quality and Easy to Use Scanner for Artwork
The Canon CanoScan 9000F Color Image Scanner is my choice for best art scanner for ease of use, and offers the best automatic image quality.
The CanoScan 9000F is maybe the most beloved scanner on our list among actual users – artists, graphic designers, photographers and others – with incredibly high ratings on various retail sites.
I suspect that this is because, as is my experience, it is the easiest high-quality scanner to use and to get a really superb image from.
With its automatic image optimization algorithms and innovative software, the Canon 9000-F adjusts itself to yield the very best quality image – and, unlike many other scanners – the image does look better and closer to the original.
And the Canon’s 7 EZ buttons make it super easy to use.
But this is not just a great scanner for a beginner or technophobe.
The quality of this Canon CanoScan flatbed scanner’s material parts and construction, the advanced technology and the remarkable specs – 9,600 x 9,600 DPI (dots per inch) resolution and 48 bit color depth – make the scanned images a significant step up from the lower priced scanners on our list of best scanners for artwork and artists, and even better than many more expensive units.
Highly recommended, then, to even discerning artists.
Pros & Cons of Canon CanoScan 9000F as an art scanner
- Superb image quality – a significant step up from lower priced scanners
- Automatic adjustments that really do increase image quality
- Incredibly easy to use
- Beautiful styling
- The model has been on the market for quite some time, so it might be due for getting discontinued, however, the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shortage in components supply and Canon doesn’t seem to have announced a replacement model yet!
Tech Features of Canon CanoScan 9000F Scanner
- 7x EZ Buttons
- Auto Document Fix and Auto Scan Mode
- Maximum Resolution: 9,600 x 9.600 DPI
- Bit Depth: Color: 48 bit :: B&W: 16 bit
- Maximum Document Size: 8.5 x 11.7 inches (A4)
My Favorite and Best Image Quality Scanner for Artwork
The Epson Perfection V850 photo scanner is my choice for best art scanner for image quality.
Even compared to the more expensive 12000XL-GA below, the Perfection V850 has truly superior image quality. Incredible resolution, deep color range and fine grayscale depth, in combination with the V850’s dual lens scanning mechanism, create beautiful images – good enough for your professional portfolio, internet images and even fine art prints.
I find that the images pulled from the Epson Perfection V850 to really catch the eye – they have real energy, three-dimensionality and detail which transfers brilliantly to a computer screen for working and editing or for an online store / portfolio.
And with a really good printer – like the Epson SureColor P900 17-Inch Printer – and archival art paper – like Canson Infinity Baryta Prestige Gloss Paper – I feel that the Epson Perfection V850 allows for a printed image which is an excellent and fully satisfying representation of my original work, and I would be proud to offer such prints for sale.
The only drawback is that the Epson Perfection V850 flatbed scanner will only scan images up to 8.5 x 11.7 inches – pretty standard for a desktop flatbed scanner, but if you need to scan larger artwork with this scanner you must do it a section at a time and use software to stitch the pieces together.
But for me the image is the most important thing, and the Epson Perfection V850 offers the very best and most satisfying image of any scanner here.
Pros & Cons of Epson Perfection V850 as an art scanner
- Superb image quality – detail, color, light, and shading
- Excellent build material with high construction quality
- Can scan fast if you need it to
- Delivers consistent results
- Easy to use
- A bit pricey compared to the art scanners above, however, when I consider it as an investment for my art business, it becomes a clear choice!
Tech Features of Epson Perfection V850 Scanner
- Alternative 6 lines color Epson MatrixCCD (Charge Couple Device) Technology
- ReadyScan Fast warm-up LED Light
- Micro Step Drive technology for higher resolution
- 4.0 Dmax for smooth gradations and fine detail in highlights and shadows
- Dual Lens System for best scans with various media
- Maximum Resolution 4800 x 6400 DPI (dots per inch) Bit Depth: Color: 48 bit :: B&W: 16 bit
- Dual Lens System for best scans with various media Maximum Resolution 4800 x 6400 DPI (dots per inch)
- Bit Depth: Color: 48 bit :: B&W: 16 bit
- Maximum Image Size 8.5 x 11.7″ (A4)
Best Large Format Scanner for Artwork (A3+)
The Epson Expression 12000XL-GA Flatbed Scanner is my choice for the best large format scanner, as well as the best professional art scanner for the really discerning artist and graphic designer.
The 12000XL will scan images up to 12. 2 by 17.2 inches (slightly larger than A3), so there is no need to scan larger artwork in sections and use something like Photoshop to stitch the sections into a whole – once you get the hang of it, stitching usually works just fine, but it’s always a bit of a chore…
While the specified resolution is actually less than some of the lower priced scanners, you should remember that a number of technologies and innovations come together with Epson’s extraordinary Dmax technology (the scanner’s ability to capture detail in shadows and highlights) and excellent mechanical stability and accuracy to produce truly beautiful scans which come very close to even the most detailed or subtle original artwork.
If you intend to sell fine art prints of your originals, if you want to put together the highest quality portfolio or if you simply want the very best reproduction of your work, this fairly expensive scanner will feel like a tremendous bargain, and one of the best investments you have ever made.
Pros & Cons of Epson Expression 12000XL-GA as an art scanner
- Superb image quality – sharp and detailed
- Accurate colors with subtle shading and gradation
- Offers much better results with larger artwork compared to “stitched” images
- Made of professional material and construction quality
- Delivers reliable and consistent scan results
- Amazing value for the image and build quality
- Compared to the models above, it is super expensive, so it’s mostly suitable for an artist or artist studio with a higher turnover. Once you get it though, it pays for itself many times over!
Tech Features of Epson Expression 12000XL-GA Scanner
- Micro Step Drive Technology
- Colorful II Imaging System
- 3.8 Dmax for excellent detail in highlights and shadows
- Epson MatrixCCD (Charge Couple Device) Technology
- ReadyScan Fast warm-up LED Light
- Maximum Resolution 2400 x 4800 DPI
- Maximum Image Size 12. 2″ X 17. 2″ (A3+)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Art Scanners
Which Scanner is Best for Scanning Artwork?
My favorite scanner for digitizing artwork is the Epson Perfection V850 Professional Scanner, which has absolutely superb image quality. Another Epson scanner, the Epson Perfection V39, is a brilliant entry-level scanner for artists at a surprisingly low price, and the Canon CanoScan 9000F is the easiest to use truly professional level scanner I’ve found, and has image quality comparable to the Epson V850. auto scan mode auto scan feature artwork scanner
How Do I Digitize My Artwork?
There are many different ways to scan artwork, but probably the two most popular options are flatbed scanners and cameras. It can be difficult to get a truly flat, undistorted scan from a camera, even on a stand, and uniform lighting is also a challenge, but flatbed scanners – like the affordable Epson Perfection V39 or the professional quality Canon CanoScan 9000F, offer consistently good scans and are super easy to use.
Can I Use a Camera to Scan Artwork?
Yeah, sure, and many artists use a camera with a tripod and studio lighting (or even just handheld – brave souls!) and get good results. Still, as I mention just above, even with a good, stable tripod or copy stand and good lighting, you may not get as consistent or excellent of results as using a scanner – or as easily.
Still, a good digital camera is obviously useful for many other things, and can work better than many a portable scanner I’ve tried, and so some artists would prefer to invest their money there – a kind of one-stop solution. For more information, please check out my article Best Camera for Artwork Photography in 2022.
How Do You Scan Original Artwork?
The easiest way to scan original artwork – and the way that offers the most consistently excellent results – is with a good flatbed scanner, which will provide flat and undistorted images and even, uniform lighting. Flatbed scanners are also very easy to use, and can be quite inexpensive, like the excellent Epson Perfection V39, while the Canon CanoScan 9000F is an affordable professional scanner with superb image quality.
If you are a serious fine artist or working commercial artist who is normally working with large artwork, a superb large format flatbed scanner – like the top-tier Epson Expression 12000XL – will be a brilliant investment, making your work so much easier and more successful.
Is 4800 DPI Good for Artwork?
Yes, 4800 DPI, or dots per inch, resolution is quite high, and normally more than enough for scanning artwork, and also for printing high quality reproductions from the scanned file. A much lower resolution is fine for screen display – like, for instance, sharing your art online or illustrating a website – but it is always good to make an original scan at a higher resolution, and then adjust the file size and resolution down later.
What is the Best Way to Scan Art?
For flat images, like drawings, paintings or collages, a good flatbed scanner is the best and easiest way to go – it will consistently give great results and is super-easy to use. A great entry level scanner with beautiful image quality is the Epson Perfection V39, and a superb professional level scanner that’s still affordable and really easy to use is the Canon CanoScan 9000F.
Final Thoughts: The Best Scanners for Artworks
A scanner can be a peculiarly personal piece of equipment – it is, after all, tasked with the awesome responsibility of not just scanning, but truly representing your artwork.
If a scanner doesn’t really get it – if it doesn’t capture the beauty, energy or other particular qualities of your creations, it can be profoundly disappointing.
That is why I wanted to offer this guide to selecting the best equipment for scanning artwork, a guide that reflects the experience of real – and really picky – artists, so that you can rest assured that each and every one of the best scanners for artwork on the list will satisfy even the most protective parents, and will really do your children proud!
Sure, some scanners are not quite as good as others – you can’t expect a hundred dollar scanner to perform as well as a thousand dollar one – but each model I’ve included can be considered the best performer for the money.
So buy with confidence – whatever your budget, you can select any one of these scanners and you’ll have a great performer and a truly useful tool on your desktop, and you will see your artwork – just as you originally envisioned it – on your screen.
Believe me – I understand just how thrilling that can be!
Other articles in the Printers and Scanners series:
- Best Printer for Art Prints
- Best Canvas Printer
- Best Cardstock Printer
- Best Printer for Stickers
- Best Screen Printing Printer
- Best Inkjet Printer for Heat Transfer
- Best Sublimation Printer
- Best Super Tank Printers
- Best Ink Tank Printer
- Best Sticker Maker Machine
- Best Printer for Cricut Print and Cut
- Best Printer for iPad, iPhone, and Mac
- Best Camera for Artwork Photography
Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur scanner de dessin pour les artistes en 2022
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