ColorWorks Custom Lab         

Fine Art Reproduction & Framing

(907) 474-0002

<< Previous    [1]  2    Next >>



Before any piece of art work can be reproduced, it needs to be copied or digitized. Digitizing is simply converting artwork into a form the computer understands. While the concept is very simple, I feel this is the most important part of the reproduction process. A simple adage:  "garbage in, garbage out" definitely holds true in this area.

If you're on a budget, I would not skimp on this most important step. Changing print size or quantity would be a better way to reduce cost.

I use two main types of copy, either flatbed scanner or a digital scanning back.

The flatbed scanner is a nice choice if the original is under 11 x 17 in size, and does not have a lot of texture. Watercolors are the best candidate here. Acrylics and especially oils are not recommended. Other delicate surfaces such as pastel or charcoal can also be a problem. The main advantage with the flatbed scanner is it's more economical than the digital scanning back.

The other method I use is a 144 megapixel digital scanning back. This is essentially a portable scanner that gets inserted into the back of a larger 4 x 5 camera. A picture of this camera shown to the left. scanning backThe advantage of this type of system is there is far less of a limit to size, lighting can more precisely be controlled, and the camera can be calibrated to a higher degree. This same type of cameras being used at leading museums today for Art copy. It is arguably the highest quality image capture available today.

Art copy process:

"Any part of the copy process that draws attention to itself will invariably scream reproduction."

Some examples of poor copy:

  • Image not sharp 
  • Camera misalignment, one corner or side out of focus 
  • exaggerated colors 
  • uneven lighting or glare 
  • poorly managed color 

 Taming the beast -- controlling variables.

Aligment:  A camera can only focus on one plane at a time. To insure corner to corner sharpness, the camera must be precisely aligned to the artwork.


mis-aligned sample"It's all done with mirrors! " No really... If you take a rectangular mirror and a round one with a hole cut in the center, and then align the mirrors to face each other, you get a series of repeating or telescoping images. Any misalignment is immediately apparent. It's an extremely accurate way to ensure exact parallelism, and what I use on every piece of artwork I copy. Accurate to .004".




"The right tool for the job". Did you know that most lenses focus colors onchromatic aberration example a different plane? Yeap, it's true. There are some lens designs that are designed to more precisely align color. These are known as apochromatic  lenses. In addition to using lenses precisely designed for flat field copy work, I also use lenses that are designed to focus all colors of light on the same plane. This avoids something known as chromatic aberrations (color fringing) from misaligned colors. If you've ever seen halos of colors around finely detailed parts of your image, then you've experienced chromatic aberrations. The camera I use allows me to focus on individual colors, and does this electronically to avoid any issues with poor vision. Details like these make a difference.

 ↑Back to Top

Con't on next page

<< Previous    [1]  2    Next >>