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How to SCAN a Picture


  • First you need a scanner, and it's associated software, to make it work.

  • Then you need to figure out how to use it to get a good picture.  

Unfortunately, there is usually a little more to it then this. 

The following steps show the main steps for using a Twain scanner interface - a very common one.  Most scanners will have the same or similar options.


Step 1  

  • Usually under [FILE] on your graphic or picture software's menu bar is [Acquire] or [Scan].  It may be under a different menu item, or you may have a specific scanner icon.  Find it, then select this option.  You should get a small dialog bog something like this. 

The Twain Scanner Interface

Step 2

  • Click on [Panel] to open the scanner's "Control Panel" (below)

  • Select the Scan Mode from the dropdown list - color (RGB), B/W, Grayscale

  • Select the Resolution  - DPI - Dots Per Inch  (see below)

  • Select the Scale (size of the result - 25%, 50%, 150%, etc.)

  • Select Contrast and Brightness (typically leave at 50%)

  • You do not have to close the control panel to continue

The Control Panel

Remember that if you scan a 3" x 5" picture at a resolution of 200 dpi that's equal to a 600x1000 SCREEN display of the picture (most displays have a FULL SCREEN of typically 800 x 600, or 640 x 480 - in other words, the picture won't fit. 

For pictures to be DISPLAYED on the WEB try scanning at a resolution 200 dpi but at a SCALE of 50%, or use a resolution of 100 - you get good internet quality, smaller file size, and about the size of the original.  

If you intend to PRINT the picture, typically the higher the resolution the better (most printers are AT LEAST 300 dpi.

Step 3

  • PRE-SCAN the image.  This is a single "fast" scanner pass, to locate the picture on the scanner bed, and only shows the image in the scanner dialog box window

  • Note the dotted lines (right and bottom have been pulled in from the edge so they are easier to see)  They are used to set the ACTUAL area to be scanned - a FULL BED scan for a 3" x 5" picture results in a LARGE image (the size of the scanner bed!) and a  wide white background area around the picture.   You want the dotted box around just the area you want to scan.  

  • Adjust  the scan area box in by placing your cursor over the dotted line - it becomes a double headed arrow (to drag left or right up or down) or a 4 headed arrow to "move" a smaller  "box" around inside the window). 


Step 4

  • Click SCAN.  You will scan JUST THE AREA in the dotted scan area box

  • When scan is complete, the picture will be displayed - crop, adjust size or color as needed and SAVE



Save the picture as a jpg file format if it is in (many) colors or in gif format if text or a few solid colors.    Try both to see the difference in quality and file size.   

Save the file with a name of your choice (name.jpg or name.gif) in a folder of your choice. 

Remember WHERE you saved it (c:\my_pictures\me.jpg)!!!!

Step 5 (optional but "nice" to do before e-mailing)

  • OPTIMIZE the picture.  This consists of several items

    •  Cropping out excess background around the object of the picture

    • Reducing the size to one that will display on most monitors (height no more then 400 pixels, width no more then 600 pixels) 

    • Run the picture through optimizing software which reduces file size significantly

Contact the Sitemaster -  EMS@digbysystems.com

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