How To: Scanning Cold Press Watercolor Paper

If you're facebook friends with me (that is, one of my friends or family members), you may have heard me going on (and on) about how overjoyed I was that I finally discovered a good way to scan cold pressed (textured) watercolor paper! I really love painting on the tooth. I like how quickly my paint dries and how the colors flow together when they are wet. And I love the results...IRL (in real life). But when I scan it, that's a different story. The light catches on all the little raised areas creating a shadow. In the darker areas, you are able to combat this by playing with the levels in photoshop and all is good. But it's especially a problem in light and white areas. In order to minimize the shadows, you wind up bleaching out all the middle level tones and making everything absurdly saturated. Of course, you want to keep a little bit of the texture, but still retain the integrity of the colors and values. It's frustrating to say the least.   The following images are a little tutorial of this technique I have stumbled upon

(want to see miraculous scanning in person? This image is available as a print from my etsy shop!) 

 

So. You have a finished painting. Congrats! Now let's put it on the internet so we can see how many people "like" it and justify our career in art (no issues here).

So. You have a finished painting. Congrats! Now let's put it on the internet so we can see how many people "like" it and justify our career in art (no issues here).

Ok. Scanned. Great. There's some exaggerated shadows showing up in the light areas, so I'm just gonna go fix that right up in photoshop... 

Ok. Scanned. Great. There's some exaggerated shadows showing up in the light areas, so I'm just gonna go fix that right up in photoshop... 

Oh wow. That's way worse. What am I going to do? Don't worry, here's what we're going to do...

Oh wow. That's way worse. What am I going to do? Don't worry, here's what we're going to do...

Scan it again, but this time rotate the image 180 degrees on the scanner bed.

Scan it again, but this time rotate the image 180 degrees on the scanner bed.

Next, place one image over the other in Photoshop. Then use the GENUIS auto align feature (if your photoshop is so out of date that you do not have this, you might as well stop here because lining these up on your own could take days...DAYS)

Next, place one image over the other in Photoshop. Then use the GENUIS auto align feature (if your photoshop is so out of date that you do not have this, you might as well stop here because lining these up on your own could take days...DAYS)

Once your two images are aligned, changed the transparency of the top to 50%. WOAH. Big difference huh? The shadows cancel each other out! If the effect is too smooth for you, give the top layer less opacity, say 75%. It's up to you. You can even mask out areas that you wish to have more texture or if certain areas are appearing a bit fuzzy since auto align is only about 99.9% accurate. This wasn't too much of an issue for me since I didn't have a lot of precise lines or details. That usually tend to be the case for paintings on cold pressed paper. 

Once your two images are aligned, changed the transparency of the top to 50%. WOAH. Big difference huh? The shadows cancel each other out! If the effect is too smooth for you, give the top layer less opacity, say 75%. It's up to you. You can even mask out areas that you wish to have more texture or if certain areas are appearing a bit fuzzy since auto align is only about 99.9% accurate. This wasn't too much of an issue for me since I didn't have a lot of precise lines or details. That usually tend to be the case for paintings on cold pressed paper. 

Now you can adjust and fiddle as you wish. I wanted to to bump up the contrast and saturation in my image because that's how vibrant I remember the sunset being. I recommend not doing ANY adjustments to your images until after you've done the auto align process. Happy painting...and scanning! Hope you get tons of "likes."

Now you can adjust and fiddle as you wish. I wanted to to bump up the contrast and saturation in my image because that's how vibrant I remember the sunset being. I recommend not doing ANY adjustments to your images until after you've done the auto align process. Happy painting...and scanning! Hope you get tons of "likes."