Agfa also make a nice range of scanners. You can buy them at most big electrical stores, again for around £100.
For cut vinyl work an A4 size scanner is fine. Most logos for this type of work are scanned in at around 300 dpi (dots per inch). You will need a scanner that can scan in three ‘modes’; line art (that’s black and white only), Greyscale and colour too – though most scanners will do all three – it pays to check.
Although many scanners will offer 1200 or even 2400 dpi – you will rarely need this level of resolution unless you are going to be doing digital printed work etc. as the images created using these resolutions can be gigantic in size and will quickly have your computer grinding to a halt.
Another thing that lets down some cheap scanners is the colour balance – that is, they sometimes produce images that do not have the same overall tone as the original (a bit like looking though tinted glass). Such imbalances can often be overcome by altering the image in a ‘paint’ program and for the vast majority of logo work (again, if it’s cut vinyl work you are doing) black and white is often the preferred scan setting anyway.
Digitising is simply the name given to the process of converting printed bitmap images (that’s like ‘dotty’ newspaper photos up close) into vector images (like those you use to cut vinyl from) which I usuallu describe as like ‘rubber bands stretched around nails’.
In the old days you would lay out your photo or printed logo and then move a ‘digitiser’ over it (bit like a computer mouse with a bomb-sight on it) and click the button each time you targetted a corner or point on that image. In this way you transferred the logo to the screen one ‘node’ at a time, a bit like dot-to-dot.
These days most signmaking software allows you to semi-automate this process by bringing-in a scanned image to the screen at which point it can analyse the image and identify corners, edges and the like – building up a vector image for you as it goes. The accuracy and tolerances can be changed to give various results.
Most scanners use a language called ‘twain’ which is simply a universal language that all manner of programs understand too – allowing them all to communicate freely with your scanner. Finally, make sure the scanner is compatible with the ‘port’ or connector you have spare on the back of the computer. The most common these days are USB connectors – again a kind of universal ‘plug’ but you may need a parallel or ‘D’ type connector.
If you already knew all this then forgive the sermon and maybe someone else will benefit from it…
anything else…just ask.