Scanning challenges come along once in a while and I wanted to share this one with you. How to scan a 49-inch painting.

I was contacted by a client who wanted a scan of a painting. Not a photo but a scan! The painting was 49 x 39 inches and came in an 8-inch plaster frame. It was an un-backed canvas painting and the subject was Admiral Vernon.  The task was set, how to scan a 49-inch painting.

The plan.

Being so large and still in its frame scanning it would require some thought. It was loaned out for the day under the supervision of the Royal Navy from Gunn Wharf Quays, Portsmouth. It was delivered here in a van and supervised by a member of staff from the Trophy Centre HMS Nelson in Portsmouth.

I’d already made some preparations on how to scan such a huge painting. I ran the idea past my Naval assistant and we settled on the below solution.

The scanner I used was an A4 scanner with a removable lid. Yes, you read that right an A4 scanner. I have a trolley for the scanner, just a bit bigger than the scanner. The trolley was the key to making this work. In addition, I had a long power cable and data cable.

It was not possible to clean the painting before scanning or dust it. I am not a qualified art restorer, so it was decided that any dust would have to edited out afterwards.

how to scan a 49 inch painting

how to scan a 49-inch painting

The execution.

The diagram above shows my setup. We supported the painting around the edges so that it was the same height as the scanner. As the scanner trolley was on wheels it was then easy to manoeuvre the trolley under the painting. For each scan, we raised the painting and re-positioned the scanner and lowered again. This was to ensure no rubbing or friction on any painted surfaces.

The scanner also has a frame around the scanning surface so we did lose a small amount of scan from the edge. To prevent any undue pressure on the canvas each scan was monitored and the painting was raised or lowered accordingly. It took some time to complete and ensure that the stitch went smoothly to put them all back into one digital image. Stitching was done one row at a time so 4 x 1 images to make 7 rows and then 7 rows to form one image.

The final image was 45 x 35. 35 scans were made in all, including any precautionary extras. The final file was created as a TIFF and 406 Mb.

If you have any huge image to scan then this should help out with how to do it, let me know how big an image you have scanned before.

You can read about how stitching work in this post scanning large images

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