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Scanography: Cameraless Pictures With Your Scanner


If you're into photography but don't have a great camera, or maybe if you just fancy something different, then scanography is a great technique to try. Scanner art, or scanography, is a fun and ethereal method of creating photograph-like art with your scanner.

1. Set Up Your Scanner

Open the scanner’s properties (usually in devices and printers)

Set up your scanner
Set the dpi in your scanner settings

Make sure the resolution, or dots-per-inch (dpi), is set to the highest it can go. In the case of this example, 600 dpi. Be aware that some scanners, like mine, will reset the dpi after every scan so you may need to do this each time. Your colour format may be able to change and have weird and wonderful options. Feel free to experiment with those, but as my scanner is basic and boring I’ll demonstrate using the ‘colour’ option.

2. Set Up Your Image

If you want a different background to your picture than the plain scanner one, you can stick your own on with Blu Tack.

Stuck on background
Stick on your background with Blu Tack or eequivalent

Next, add the items you want to include in your image. Remember that the image is being taken from below, so place things upside down. I’ve used buttons as an example here:

Set up your image
Set up the items you want to scan

You can try anything from old books, coins (see below) or whatever you have lying around the house. This is what the buttons produced when scanned:

Buttons after scanning
This is what the button set up 

World coins on a map background works quite nicely too:

World coins on a map of the world

It’s interesting that despite the lack of depth of field using this method, you can get some semblance of it by adding a background, because your scanner will focus on the item on its plate and not on the picture you’ve stuck to the top. 

3. Get Arty

You don’t just have to position items on the scanner, why not try yourself… and no, I don’t mean sitting on the photo-copier at the Christmas party! Self-portraits can become ethereal and have an almost, underwater quality to them:

A portrait using scanography [photo: Belinda Kiernan: http://bibz-says-rawr.deviantart.com/]

If you can draw (I can't!), try cutting out scenes and laying them on the scanner for some great silhouette effects. You don't have to have the lid down either, dragging something along the plate as it scans can give some really eerie blurring effects!

Movement during the scan can create eerie effects [photo: Emily Nagy: http://shewalksinsilence.deviantart.com/]


You might not have even realised you have a scanner, but many home printers include scanners now too. This method allows you to be creative, it's fun and can get some great results!

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