View Full Version : Porting hand drawn images

01-27-2010, 03:54 AM
Let's just say somewhere in my past I had some huge sheets of graph paper and I created a 6 level dungeon lair .... any suggestions on the best way to get that into a digital format that would be worth anything?

I don't have a scanner (well I do but I'm missing a power converter for it somehow) and even if I did it is nowhere near big enough.

Anyone tried using a digital camera for this type of thing?

I'd love to get these sheets into my computer and work them over a bit.

Blaidd Drwg
01-27-2010, 04:22 AM
I always use a digital camera because I don't have a scanner.
It's doable, but you need to make sure the lighting is even. Sunlight is best, so if you have a garden or some other place outside, I strongly recommend you use it! Otherwise your pics will end up looking like mine, and you do not want that ;)
It also helps if you can mount the camera on something to keep it steady, but I get by just fine without.

01-27-2010, 04:22 AM
if you have a digital camera, i don't see why that wouldn't work - it's not too different from scanning once you get it in there. I'd recommend fastening the paper to a wall, and having the camera sitting on a stable surface (tripod, or a table) so that you can get a perfectly straight-on shot. You could try getting the whole thing in one shot and see if that's workable, or if you need more detail, take a number of smaller detail pics - this is where the straight-on becomes important, when you try stitching the detail shots together afterwards.

I haven't taken photos of maps, per se, but there's a number of artwork pieces that I've digitized using this method. Either way it would be the same process.

01-27-2010, 04:26 AM
I'm going to give that a try then and we'll see how it turns out. Have a busy week of work so not sure when I will have a chance. Hopefully, the lines I drew way back when will be dark enough.

01-28-2010, 05:53 PM
If you have a high resolution SLR digital camera verticle camera stand, maybe. Depending where you are at, some Kinko's and similar shops offer scanning services - generally a 24" x 36" color scan is around $25.

To me there is no work around for a flatbed scanner, and yes with my 12" x 18" flatbed scanner, I am always scanning 18" x 24" hand-drawings for my maps, sometimes I scan larger stuff. How, you ask?

Using the straight edges of the paper itself as a guide I orientate the map in the direction that allows the least number of total scans to do it all. First I place my sheet placing one corner on the flatbed scanner - then scan it (I usually work at 300 ppi). Once scanned, I slide the paper left or right, allowing for a slight overlap of the previously scanned area, then scan next piece. Continue the process until you've scanned to other corner of the sheet of paper. Usually, I need to do more scans, so I rotate the drawing 180 degrees, and starting at one corner begin scanning multiple times until the entire sheet is scanned.

If the sheet of paper rotates slightly skewing the direction, its best to straighten it using the paper edges as a guid before scanning, this minimizes the need to rotate your scan to fit the other scans - this can be a bugger of problem if you don't keep the sheet straight on the scanner.

In Photoshop (or GIMP), create a new blank image that matches the dimensions of the intended final map (at least the size of the paper drawn on). Starting with a corner scanned area, cut and paste onto the new blank image, placing at the proper corner. Then cut and paste each subsequent next scanned image to place on the other one. Sometimes it helps to give the new image a 50% transparency just to ensure that the seams line up perfectly - it may take some slight rotation on a given piece if it were not straight in the scanner in the first place. Do this for all the pieces until the map is reconstructed.

Do not make any color adjustments until all pieces are placed and the image is flattened. Sometimes its difficult to match between scans if you make color or contrast adjustments to the individual scans. Its easier to match them and cleanup any edge distortions once all put together in its complete form. I often have to seriously adjust the contract (increase) to get linework to show best. I usually apply two applications of the Blur tool, then an Unsharp Mask to get clean lines.

I save in TIFF as its a non-color/resolution degenerating file format. Once I start to do color work and what not I often save as JPG just for working with a smaller file. However, unlike most mappers, I usually don't export to JPG until the final work is done. I prefer using TIFF as a working format for the above reason described.

Is this method a pain in the ass - it sure is, but it creates the sharpest best quality rendition of your hand-drawing for map creation purposes. I would even say its a thousand times better than using a digital camera to digitally capture your hand-drawn image. But its up to you!

My 2 cents!


PS: a single CCD camera inside the digital camera is usually not the same quality especially when taking photos of flat objects as a scanner, since the paper is stationary and right on the glass just above the scanning camera itself.

01-28-2010, 06:02 PM
That reminds of scanning the FR poster map for the FRIA long ago. I had dozens of little scans that had to be assembled. It was a mess to do but it came out cleaner than the original map when I was finished. Hours and hours of tedious assembly work went into the job.

01-28-2010, 06:10 PM
That reminds of scanning the FR poster map for the FRIA long ago. I had dozens of little scans that had to be assembled. It was a mess to do but it came out cleaner than the original map when I was finished. Hours and hours of tedious assembly work went into the job.

Aside from doing this for my own hand-drawn work for map, I do this almost every week for one customer or another in my daytime graphic design/digital print studio - usually they are 24 x 36 color inkjet maps (for contractors, engineers, etc) of digital files that are missing or lost so the print is all they have to work with - and I'm forced to multiscan and stitch as described in my last post.

Granted I'm using a larger flatbed scanner than most have access, but a 24 x 36 (6 scans) takes me an hour to scan and reassemble. If I were working with a letter size scanner (8.5" x 11") it would probably take me two hours to do this.

I'm faster because I do this all the time and am used to the process.


01-28-2010, 08:49 PM
I got my 14x17 drawing for Haibian scanned at Fedex-Kinkos for $399 (600dpi? greyscale). Worked great for me. Believe it or not they'll usually negotiate a little bit. Bring in a bunch and ask them for a discount or something.

01-28-2010, 08:55 PM
I've helped my friend Steve put larger images together from 8x11 scans. I find that overlapping the images by about and inch, then taking a soft eraser and erasing the edge of the overlaying image works great for making the two pieces blend together seemlessly. This after making sure they are pretty dead on lining up.

01-28-2010, 09:28 PM
Thanks for the detailed explanation. I my just have to track down a power converter for my flatbed even it it's not huge like you have.

I did a quick shot with my digital camera - later realized I can up the megapixels by a couple more million so I'll have to try that but the attached image is what I wound up with.

I did a little tweaking but probably not quite the right tweaks because as you can see if you zoom in the lines are a bit fuzzy. I guess it's ok if I don't mind reworking the image but I think I'd prefer to get exactly the image (or close to) for starting out. Next time I will try what you said.

Also, for some reason, I must have gone over the eye patch with a pen (probably doodling) but it just lost all depth in the process as is evident. I think the ink had a more reflective effect on the camera.

01-28-2010, 09:38 PM
So you do mean $399.00!! Ouch, that's expensive! I couldn't for the life of me charge that much for a digital scan. To do the same thing, I would charge $45, and though I would do it at 600 ppi if that's what you requested, but professionally I think 300 ppi is enough, unless you planned to print an enlargment of the map.

While I do have a large format roll-fed B/W scanner - its B/W not greyscale. If the work was in the hand-drawn style I use in pen, and not pencil with shading applied it might actually work though for the detail I prefer doing it the hard/longer way using the method I just described using a flatbed scanner. Using the large format method of scanning I charge $7.50 for lineart scanning - that's a far cry from $399.

It almost sounds like it would be worth the hassle to ship your hand-drawn work to me for future scanning needs adding the shipping costs to my shop and back and the $45 is much less expensive than going to your Fedex Kinkos - certainly not as quick if you were on some kind of close deadline, it wouldn't help.

Sorry, I can't get over the price you just quoted - that's crazy!


01-28-2010, 10:34 PM
Whoops. I missed the decimal. Nope. Just $3.99. Whew. Probably gave you a heart attack. I would write the file myself, in binary, from a very finely drawn grid on my original if it was going to cost $399. No way, no how. :)

01-28-2010, 11:10 PM
Phew, you scared the hell out of me! But then $3.99 might be a bit low for me to do that, when I said $45 that referred to a 24 x 36 drawing, grayscale or color with shading.


01-29-2010, 12:12 AM
Unless he really means 39.99 but just has a problem with decimal points :)

My mouth hit the floor on that 399 price as well GP, and I was like, there ain't NO WAY NO HOW I'm getting anything scanned by a pro, LOL. I was thinking, well my camera might not be as good but it's not 399 worse!

I'm glad we got that cleared up at least.