Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Through A Scanner Darkly

Well...that was an involving weekend.

I'm working on a Stress Puppy graphic novel.  It's done as far as the creative side goes, written, drawn, etc.  All that's left is to scan it in so I can have it printed.  The original pages are industry standard 11X17.  Needless to say, the scanner I have ain't big enough.

Last weekend, I drove out in that ridiculous weather (it didn't look so bad when I left the house) to go to Staples and get it scanned in.  I had asked them and they said they could handle large formats, no problem.  So I bring it to them.

The lady looks over the art boards (three ply, 120 lb. bristol) and says, "Well, if I could put it through the ADF (Automatic Document Feeder), it would be 25 cents a page.  But since I have to open the lid and do it manually, it's $5.99 a page."

Please see the picture of my WHAT? cat for my reaction.

This means that the 54 pages (didn't have the covers done at the time) would cost $323 and change to get scanned in.  Maybe if I was guaranteed to be rolling in dough from this project, but this is a graphic novel based on my web comic strip.  I don't think the record held by X-Men #1 is in any danger.  At one point in the Stress Puppy story, Holly talks about how much she appreciates non-tech people.  "Who else can we soak for $150 just to put a memory stick in their tower?"  I mean, you lift the lid, put the page down, and press a button, and each scan is nearly an hour at minimum wage.  There is no way that price can be justified to me.

I went to Office Depot.  $2.99 a page.  Better, but not quite.  Office Max said that batch jobs like mine would be $7.99 for the first page and $1.99 each additional page.  Close enough, but I would have to leave the pages with them overnight.  Sorry, didn't want to.

Kinko's could do it, but can only scan to .pdf files.  I need .tif files.  I tried using the GiMP to alter some test .pdf's, and it was a mess.  No dice.

So I decided to whip out the Fantastic Plastic and buy an oversized scanner.  Those things are friggin' expensive.  Until one guy, a pro artist who has worked for Marvel, suggested I try a Mustek scanner.  He even sent me the link, with it on sale.  $250 normally, $200 that weekend.  Sure, why not, I ordered one.  This isn't some kid recommending it, this is a pro artist.  (Chris at Hard Way Studios told me it's a great scanner, he has one.)

It arrived on Friday.  I wasn't sure how to connect it under Linux, and I wanted the pages scanned in as quickly as possible.  Luckily, I keep a Windows machine around just for this purpose.  I installed the drivers and the scanning software.

Conclusion?  The scanner works great.  The image area is nice and big, low profile, quiet operation.  The scanning software it comes with, however, sucks and gives change.  I couldn't see how to make my Windows version of the GiMP read the scanner, so I stuck with the stock scanning software the machine came with.  I would scan one image, then the program would lock up.  I'd have to restart the machine (sometimes two or three times in a row) in order to get it working again.  I discovered a sort of workaround.  Once the image is scanned, I would kill the whole program.  Lifting the lid caused it to start up again.  Sometimes, I would have to restart two or three times in a row and only get one or two scans in.  Othertimes, I could get twenty pages or more done at a crack.  It took a couple of hours, but I soon had all of Stress Puppy, the two covers, and the eight pages so far of Project X.  I'm seriously considering letting any shoestringers in my area know that I will scan in their comic art for, say, 25 cents a page.  All they have to do is be patient.  I'll even give them video games to play while I do it.

So, is the scanner worth it?  Sure.  But look for something to scan your stuff in, the program that comes with it is problematic at best.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, computers, foss, open source, original comic art, stress puppy, technology is a beautiful thing

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