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Working with Scanned Images

Working with Scanned Images
Useful tips and guidelines for scanning images.

Our previous article on Scanners acquainted you with the basic terminology used in order to assist with your scanner purchase.

If the bundled software programs that came with your scanner are not sufficient for the projects you have in mind then simply shop around for the programs that will do the job for you. An excellent software program to manage your images is Paint Shop Pro 7 that is useful for both the home hobbyist or for the photo enthusiast. It retails for about $100.

Installing the program of your choice onto your system doesn't necessarily guarantee its placement in the "send to" options of your scanner's tool menu. In such an instance, send your scanned project to one of the scanner's listed options and save your project to My Documents to be opened up by the software program you do wish to use.

A scanner magnifies any glitches that the original project may have, so be sure to start out with as good a quality image as possible to scan. Locate and try the sharpen tool option to improve the images' appearance. You will know if you've sharpened your image too much if smaller objects develop a halo.

Older Polaroid photos often scan with a yellowish tint that can be corrected by locating an option to change the hue or tint of the scan until the yellowish tint has been eliminated in your scanned image.

Saving the scanned image in JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the optimal choice for photographs since JPEG will best retain the original quality of your image.

JPEG is a method of compressing color graphics that sacrifices some bits of data to achieve different rates of compression. Avoid setting the JPEG compression options too high as that may cause color banding (bands of different colors in a what should be a solid colored area), pixel or color splotching, or color bleeding where reds or blues bleed into the surrounding areas in an image. 35% compression is usually pretty safe for most photos.

Lines through your scanned image may be a result of EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) and can be resolved by repositioning your cabling to your scanner or by moving the scanner itself to another location. Lines that are not due to EMI may be indicative of a hardware problem within the scanner itself.

If your scanned images look like you're displaying a work of needlepoint art on your monitor, your video card is probably set to 256 colors or lower. At least a 24bit capable video card is necessary for adequately viewing scanned images on your computer.

Corrupted scanned images or black scans may be signs of corrupted scanner drivers. Contact your scanner's manufacturer for instructions, or if that is not possible, try uninstalling your scanning software followed by deleting the twain files from your Windows folder. (Start>Find>Files or Folders>Named: type in twain.*>Look in: select C>Find Now>highlight and right-click to select delete.)

Next, choose a resolution to save your finished image in..... 75dpi (dots per inch) is adequate for emailed images or photos intended to be inserted into a Word document. If your scanner software allows you to specify the output in pixels, that is actually the most important consideration for web use. You can also resample the image to a smaller size afterwards with Paint Shop Pro or any good photo editor, but specifying the correct pixel size in the original scanner output should produce the best image quality.

Images that you wish to print on a photo-capable printer suitable for framing should be saved with about 1200dpi. This should be ample dpi for an 8x10 framable photo for display.

Is your system hanging while scanning? Scanning large images requires ample system memory to function properly. For an informative how-to install more memory into your computer system, see my article on memory card installation.

Familiarizing yourself with your software's capabilities will reward you with quality-scanned images for work or play.

Scanning in text is a whole new ballgame. You'll appreciate a good quality OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software program to assist you with such tasks. Be sure to check the OCR program you select against its list of compatible scanners before you make your final selection.


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