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FAQ: How do scanners work and what do you need to do to get an optimum fabric scan for quilting software.
by Sharla Hicks © 2001
The scanner is a tool that allows you to take a picture that computer understands. Scanned images can be used as clipart, desktop wallpaper, watermarks, fabric in quilting software, instructions in class handouts, and many other wonderful ways.
The scanner uses a scanner interface program that directs you through the scanning process. In most cases the scanner interface must use another a secondary graphic program to complete its mission. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to the secondary program as the first destination graphic program.
The first destination graphic program takes the scanned image from the scanner interface software, creates a new window with the picture/scan and then you can perform tweaks like size, color, add special effects and other options.
The tweaked file is then saved and is ready to be imported into the final destination software like quilting software and desktop publishing programs like Word, Word Perfect, Word Start, Ventura, Publisher, and many more.
Scanners can interface with graphic programs like IrfanView (a freeware download available here on our website), Adobe Illustrator, Paint, CorelDraw, Corel Photo-Paint, PhotoPaint, Paint Shop Pro, Fireworks, or other graphic programs. Some are very sophisticated and do all kinds of manipulations -- others are simpler. IrfanView (a freeware available here on our website) is one such "destination" program that is simple and easier to use than most.
1. To setup your scanner interface so that it will interact with the first destination graphic program, look for something that says, Scan, Select Source, Select TWAIN or something along those lines. These options are usually found under the File Menu. The option called Twain refers to the drivers (software connectors) that allow the scanner interface program to talk to the first destination graphic program.
2. To scan the image into the first destination graphic programs look in the same place and find the option usually called AQUIRE. When you make the selection, it automatically open the scanner interface software.
3. In the Interface Scanner Software, select all options for the scanning. (See Part 2 below for scanning fabrics options.)
4. When the scan is complete, the software will import the scanned image to a NEW window in the first destination graphic program. Now the scanned image is ready for editing to a new size, color, add manipulations and special effect.
5. THEN save the tweaked scan in a format that the final destination program can use. (See Part 2 below for details on tweaking the scanned fabrics or other images.)
6. In order to use the tweaked scan that you have saved. Import it to the the final destination program. Final destination programs would be quilting software, e-mail, desktop publishing programs like Word, Word Perfect, Word Star, and Publisher and others. NOTE: Each program manual and the online help files will have instructions on how to import a file. To find the instructions, go to the Table of Contents, Index or Online Help Files and use Search.
Setup to use for scanner interface program:
1. Locate the color options: If the options are not apparent on the main screen, look under advanced options. Not all scanners allow this type of selection. If your scanner has options, you MAY see something like the following. NOTE: If the color requirement listed for quilting software is NOT listed as one of your Scanner Color Options (look under advanced), you will need to make the color change in the first destination graphic program!
Select one of the following:
2. Do not scan too large of a size of fabric, resizing later can create color and contrast distortion problems. Remember, your finished imported scan will eventually be resized down to 100-200 pixels* max, so the smaller the section of fabric you can scan the better. (See above.)
NOTE: Preview scan. This allows you to scan a large piece of fabric and select the repeat section for the final scan in the preview window.
NOTE: If your finished fabric file is larger than 100-200 pixel recommendation, you may get a "not found error" in Electric Quilt. In other quilting software, you may not be able to see the fabric because the patch shows only a tiny portion of the fabric file.
3. If the fabric repeat section is larger than the pixel size listed in 2 (and it often is in large scale prints), then if possible, use the reduction options in the scanner, 10% - 50% depending on your scanner. Shot for the closest reduction % that will give you the optimum 100-200 pixel recommendation. Remember reducing the size in the original scan gives you a more realistic scan that requires less tweaking later. (See above.)
4. Select your DPI choice. Dots per inch refers to the number of dots used when doing a printout. I have found that using 150-300 DPI for the original scan gives me more detail and less loss when reducing down to the final size to the optimum 100-200 pixels.
Conclusion: Now that you know the do's and don'ts for scanning fabric, do the following:
Other Scanning Information Resources found in Computer Quilting BYTES:
For more FAQ's answered by Sharla Hicks go to: