Bored with traditional photography? Sick of drawing stick figures in your sketch book? Why not try scanner art? It’s cheap, creative, and fun – and the best part? It can capture three-dimensional and high-resolution images/objects fantastically.
Sometimes known as scanography, or scanner photography, scanner art was popularized by practitioners of macro photography in the late 1960s and has since been taken up by amateurs and semi-professionals worldwide.
Want to learn how to get artistic with your scanner? Read on.
First, envision what you want your scanner art to look like. Lots of vibrant colors, or a more muted tone? Grainy or smooth texture? Many subjects (for a collage effect), or just one or two? You can use almost anything as material for scanner art – feathers, beads, dollar bills, random shapes made out of construction paper, flower petals, vegetables, mini machine parts, dolls, hands and faces, seashells, photographs, etc. Any object will do, really. Get creative! Just make sure that your proposed subject isn’t wet or greasy, which can ruin the scanner. (For extra protection, use a thin plastic film to prevent objects from scratching the surface.)
If you don’t have a scanner, there are lots of cheap or used ones easily available on sites like eBay and Craigslist – you can even buy new ones for $100 or less at office supply chains. If you like scanning a lot of text, you might want to consider getting a specially-made book scanner, as well.
Remove the top of your flatbed scanner and carefully place your materials on it (as if you’re looking up from the scanner.) Don’t close the lid. Turn off the lights and locate the Start button. Done!
Re-scan different arrangements until you’re satisfied that you’ve tried every combination (it’ll make the editing process a lot less stressful). Use the “preview” function on your computer to ease the process.
There are many interesting composition schemes to try; for example, if you take, say, a dollar bill and spin and drag it as the scanner light travels across the bed, you can make an interesting distorted rainbow effect. Objects that move by themselves will be harder to control with the flow of light, though.
If you’re planning on using your scanner art for something other than personal enjoyment (selling it, for example) then you might want do do a little Photoshop editing – or, if that’s too expensive, try GIMP (it’s a free, downloadable photo image editor that works almost just as well.) Polish your picture to perfection: you can add frames and colourful background designs, intensify colours, delete a stray hair, and clean up any dust (or bugs!) that got caught in your picture from the scanner. You can even use your editor to “flatten” the background, making your subjects appear to “float” in the foreground.
The methods of displaying your new scanner art are endless: postage stamps, personalized greeting cards, decoratively framed pictures, book covers, etc. Remember, you can use your scanner as a tool to record significant events in your life that might not be better suited for a camera – flowers from a first date, for example (you can’t capture the texture as well in a standard photograph!)
If you feel like you’ve gotten really good at scanner art, you may want to try submitting your work to real-life art galleries (yes, they have them just for scanographers!) Need more inspiration? Try looking here.
About the Author: Bryan Cochand is a freelance writer for Adobe. Adobe software, such as web design software, and services, like web application development, revolutionize how the world engages with ideas and information; anytime, anywhere, and through any medium.