About Our Fine Art Scanning Process

giclee print process

Digital Art Capture

Every fine art print, whether it be reproduced through giclée or offset lithography, begins with a quality fine art scan. Traditionally a photo was taken of the art under strict conditions, color separated, and plates were made for a four-color printing press.

Now we do direct digital capture when scanning your artwork, using a digital scanback camera. It looks like a camera, but in fact it is a large format scanner. This eliminates a step in the process, and can ensure that the artwork has a higher quality capture, as the camera lens captures and transfers the data directly to a digital file without relying on an additional step from analog to digital that can introduce errors and imperfections.

There are several ways to prepare artwork for giclée printing:

Betterlight-8k-02Betterlight Digital Scanning Back Camera System

  • Digital scanning with a large format camera: We prefer to start your project using our Better Light scanning back large format camera. This will yield the finest results when reproducing your art in most cases. Its the most accurate way to reproduce artwork, and produces beautiful files to use online as well.
  • Scanning of film or transparency: In some cases your artwork or photography may already be prepared in film or transparencies. In this case we will scan your film or transparency and clean up any imperfections such as dust and scratches. Transparencies can be scanned using a flatbed scanner or a drum scanner. There are advantages to using a drum scanner in most cases, but it is much more expensive.
  • Scanning artwork on a flatbed scanner: In some cases a flatbed scanner works just fine, and may be the more economical method. When scanning fine line work we have found that a flatbed scanner captures the details of the line work well.


Once your artwork as been captured to a digital file, we will edit it. The first thing we will do is screen color matching, which means that we will look at the original artwork or transparency decide if the colors look the same. If we see differences between the original and the scan, we will use Adobe Photoshop to adjust the color spaces.

Next we will look throughout the artwork or photo at various details, once again comparing the original and the digital file to see if we have accurately captured all of the details. Line clarity is important, and we are looking for crispness of edges and line fidelity.

We've calibrated our system to be ideal for accurately reproducing paints & pigments

We’ve calibrated our system to be ideal for accurately reproducing paints & pigments

Next we will look for imperfections that are not apparent to the naked eye. Once a piece of art or photo has been scanned, and is being viewed in high-resolution on the monitor, it’s like putting the artwork under a microscope. Here we can see dust, hairs, scratches, and other minute imperfections that you may never knew existed. We will also find small errors and imperfections in brush strokes and line work that are not apparent to the naked eye. You would be absolutely amazed what we find in this step.

Lastly we do any editing that was specifically requested by the artist or photographer, such as signature removal or other editing. In some cases artists and photographers will also ask us to perform major digital edits on their work, such as changing color spaces, color replacement, fixing errors in a painting or Photograph, and other Photoshop enhancements. The artist may have also requested gallery edges on a painting, in which case we either create a solid edge around the artwork for canvas stretching, or clone the painting out two inches so it can be wrapped around the canvas. (Note: At this point any work we do is done in layers in Photoshop so as to not permanently alter the original scan. This allows us to always go back to the original if necessary.)

Now we’re ready for printing.

Final Printmaking

Next we will select the paper or “substrate” and load a test sheet into the printer and print a section of the painting or photograph so that we may proof the artwork. Here we want to make sure that the final output will look good on the chosen substrate, that color matching was done well, and that the final output will be up to our standards and the artist’s standards.

Proofing a colored pencil drawing by Sarah Cox

Proofing a colored pencil drawing by Sarah Cox

After the artist has agreed to the proof and signed off on it, we’re ready top print. If the artist has waived the proof portion of the job, then we will judge the proof in-house, and we will then move on to the final printing.


The last step in the process is finishing. In some cases there will be none, and the work is ready for the artist or photographer to pick up and sign. If there is finishing to be done, it can include the following:

  • applying a UV coating, gloss or matte finish
  • trimming the edges of the paper, cutting edges to size
  • deckling edges
  • framing, matting, stretching canvas
  • Certificate of Authenticity, signing

Examples of Our Fine Art Scanning

Below, we’ve featured a few examples of the results of our scanning service. Our Better Light 8k Digital Scanning-back produces beautiful high-resolution files of a huge variety of different artworks. Unlike drum-scanners, it is not limited to flat or flexible works, and is amazing for pieces on stretcher-bars or wood panel. And unlike flat-bed scanners, nothing ever has to touch the surface of your piece, making it the best method for reproducing fragile works like chalk pastel, charcoal or collage.

“Always a Railroad Town”, 19″x30″ Watercolor, by Chris Oldham

Brom 1Brom Detail
Redd Wing, 24″x30″ Oil on Panel, by Brom

Evening FieldEvening field detail
“Evening Field”, 16″x6.5″ Pastel on tinted paper, by Steve Hill

Artist Shannon Castle works in sandblasted glass relief, which has posed unique challenges to digitize with our Betterlight scanner. We developed a special lighting setup to highlight her glass etching, showing the depth with luminosity, as well as the unique green glow of the glass under display lighting conditions.


shannon castle detail

This is a three glass panel triptych scanned with our scanning-back camera and special lighting

We are able to capture the finest details, even in large pieces of artwork.

Oil Painting by Iris Scott.
Title: Rainier Avenue
Size: 30″ x 40″

click image to zoom in

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