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Tips for Scanning Objects

It's fun to prowl around the house, office or yard looking for objects to scan, but this kind of scanning requires some special attention.


With objects that have protruding parts-for example, a mask with a large nose-the background parts will be darker and less focussed than the parts that are closest to the glass. You may be able to compensate for this by editing focus and contrast in an image-editing program, or you may want to stick with objects that are flatter.


Placing a thick object on the scanner may prevent you from closing the scanner lid. The scanned object will then have a dark background, with the degree of dark-ness determined by the amount of ambient light in the room. You can edit out a dark background in an image-editing program. You can also create a temporary reflective "lid" by placing a white box or large piece of white paper over the object, or by constructing a cover out of pieces of white foam-core board.


Scanned objects will cast shadows as the scanner's light source passes across them, but these shadows don't look the same as those cast by a directional light. To achieve more natural looking shadows, silhouette the scanned object and create a soft drop shadow in your image-editing program.

Unwieldy Objects

Objects that are round or unbalanced may roll around or topple over on the scanner glass. Try using books or rulers to restrain your more unruly subjects. You can also use artboard, an X-Acto knife and tape to construct restraints for objects.

The scanner as camera
The images in figure 1 and figure 2 were created by placing small items directly on the scanner glass. Each object was silhouetted in Photoshop and drop shadows were added using Photoshop's Drop Shadow controls.

Metallic Objects

Because the three colored light beams (red, green and blue) from color scanners emanate at different angles, they may cause metallic objects to appear exotically multicolored when scanned. You may like the look of a rainbow-hued monkey wrench. But if not, converting the scan from color to grayscale solves the problem. Silver or steel surfaces will look quite realistic in black and white. You can add a monochrome color back to a grayscale scan to achieve the look of gold or copper. If only certain parts of an object are metallic, select these and reduce their color saturation to zero, leaving the rest of the object unchanged.

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