Dear Abby… I Mean Denny

December 3, 2007

Scanner1…Mustek ScanExpress A3 USB Scanner…


…Photoshop on a 600 year old tube monitor…

This is an outtake of an e-mail I recently received…

I need some advice; I do pen and inks and work with colored pencil…what tools should I get and or what programs should I know to make my artwork more publisher friendly. I can’t just send originals in the mail. Should I have a scanner? If so, which one? What size?…how should I go about doing this?

I’m going to answer this here thinking it may be of some interest to others.

Basically, I think you can get by with two things here, Jon. A flatbed scanner and Photoshop software.

I use a Mustek ScanExpress A3 USB scanner. At around $150 to $200, I’m pretty sure it’s the cheapest, large format scanner on the market and that’s why I’ve got one. It’s easy to use and plugs into your computer with a usb cable. If you read the reviews on it, some people love it and some people really, REALLY hate it. I like it just fine because it was really, REALLY cheap to buy. Plus, I never send raw scans to anybody, anyway. I always adjust my art in Photoshop before I send it.

Photoshop is pretty much the industry standard as far as artwork manipulation programs go. You can adjust the color and size of your work, add things, delete stuff, correct problems… most anything you want to do, Photoshop can do it. A new version of Photoshop will run around $300 to $400.

Now here’s the cool thing… if you get a cheap Mustek scanner like I’ve got, it includes an older version of Photoshop to run it with… mine did anyway. So for a couple of hundred dollars you can be set up with a functional scanner to get your artwork into your computer, and Photoshop to adjust your images and get them out of your computer and onto a disc.

The Comments

Doug Jones

does the Muskox scanner work on your old PC or on your cheese grater?

Dennis Jones

…(I believe you must be working with some inside information on this question)… when I got my Muskox Scanner, Mac had JUST come out with OS X and the scanner was not compatible with that new system… so I use my old PC to operate the scanner and shoot the files over to my Mac via an ethernet cable… PC and Mac living in harmony, just like the TV commercials… however, since that time the NEW Muskox Scanners work with later Mac operating systems… I’ve been thinking, hey, for a hundred and fifty bucks, I could get a new scanner that plugs directly into my Mac and retire the old PC for good…

Dennis Jones

…I forgot to add this in my post… you will also need a good chair… here is the chair I use… as you can see I have customized it with a foam mat and rope…


do you still sleep on rubber sheets?

Don Jones

I am speechless. I just listened to a Audio CD titled “The Millionaire Next Door.” It proceeded to describe the REAL skinny on them rich folks and the word that kept coming up was FRUGAL. After deeper analysis and contemplation of Den’s post above, I believe Dennis has a net worth well into the 7 figure range.

Dennis Jones

…that or I spent all my money on cat toys and now don’t have two nickels to rub together..

Jason Bourne

I don’t have any of the latestbsoftware,I just use the paint program that came on the computer. I use to scan things,only now I just draw with the mouse…. I know practice is a major factor.

James Zazas

Hey big “D”…. When you scan your paintings into PhotoShop, do you have to break up your Illustration into different Layers in order to colorize or put highlights in them? Have a Blessed Day dude and trust our Lord will forgive your Brother for all they’ve done to you. 🙂 James

Don Jones

Den, that last post makes you sound like the poor, picked on, helplessly abused and bullied brother. I guess he saw the videos of you and the dresses.

Dennis Jones

…mom always did like you two best…

James- when I scan a traditional painting into photoshop the painting is already pretty much a done deal… basically all I do is adjust the levels, adjust the saturation, and adjust the size to make sure it fits the layout… that’s about it…

…on the other hand, when I generate a painting IN photoshop, I have layers all over the place…

Jon Slone

Thank you Dennis! One more question Mr. Saturday. How easy is it to learn photo shop? When you’re done with the final product, is THAT the original? The one that’s been altered in the computer? Sincerly, Payton Manning

Dennis Jones

Hey Jon…

(1) …how easy is Photoshop…

…I would say that starting from ground zero, Photoshop has a fairly steep learning curve, but it’s a professional program, is commonly used in the industry and you really need to know how to run it…

…the good news is, you don’t have to master the entire thing to be able to run it… to do the typical stuff I use it for on a job, I’m probably only using about 2% of what the entire program can do…

…so if you can just get down the basics and master 2 or 3 tools, you’ll be on your way with it… I honestly am learning new stuff everyday in Photoshop and I’ve used it for years…

(2) …is the Photoshop document the “original”?

…if I understand your question correctly, the answer is, yes… when I do a job, I still do a traditional painting first… I scan it into the computer, Photoshop it up a little bit and that becomes the “original” that is sent to the publisher. I keep the traditional artwork, the publisher gets the digital file…