Fine Art scanning

Imagefoundry is proud to be one of the very few imaging shops in Canada offering outstanding fine art scanning and documentation services. In the summer of 2021 we completed a major upgrade that improved on every single aspect of our artwork documentation workflow: we switched to a fully polarized lighting system, tightened up the color accuracy and made meaningful improvements to how we handle ultra-large artworks. You will be pleased to know that we managed to keep the same basic pricing for our services while improving on our process and maintaining the outstanding quality we have been known for.

Here’s a breakdown of our fine art documentation service brackets:

Typical turn-around time for fine art scans is one business day (depending on the number of scans and other requirements)

Basic scans $25.00
Perfect for small scale projects, with the amount of recorded visual detail appropriate for web use, slide shows, competition submission entries and printing at sizes up to 12″ x 18″ or so. This service bracket is limited to artworks up to 16″ x 20″ in size.
The amount of detail in a basic scan is comparable to a digital capture from a high-end digital camera, but better in every regard: it’s uniformly sharp corner to corner, evenly lit, free of glare or aliasing of any kind and is color accurate.

Medium resolution scans $50.00
An affordable, balanced choice for artists working on larger scale, with no limitations on the size of the original artwork.
Higher recorded resolution (approximately 6000 px by 8000px) lets you see so much more fine detail in your painting or drawing, and makes possible prints as large as 22″ x 30″ and beyond. Did we mention that our scans are super sharp?

High-resolution scans $100.00
The backbone of our imaging expertise, this service bracket offers terrific value with ultra-detailed, gorgeous scans. This is the one for professional artists working with large scale canvases. Image dimensions are approximately 8000 px by 13000 px, thus translating into breathtaking, detailed prints as large as 48″ x 60″ and further.
The amount of detail in our high-res scans exceeds anything available from our competitors and is in a league of its own.

Ultra high-res scans $250.00
This is the ultimate in fine art documentation service, the service bracket designed for situations when mural-sized artwork is involved, or for scientific and/or forensic applications.
These scans feature a tremendous amount of detail, with image dimensions approximately 16000 px by 27000 px (admittedly scans this size might be an overkill for any type of situation that does not involve printing building-sized wraps or museum exhibits).

Custom scans
There are situations when even a largest single capture does not provide enough resolution for the requirements of the design. You may have seen the news of super-ultra-detailed scan of Rembrandt’s Night Watch performed by a team at Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and there’s an Italian company (Haltadefinizione) that specializes in projects like this. The common feature here is that a scanning or camera setup is used to take a series of overlapping images, covering the whole artwork in a grid of scans, then compute all the sections into a final composite image that would be much more detailed than what’s possible with a single shot capture. It’s laborious and slow, but we definitely can help and we’ve done this sort of work many times before.
A good example of this type of work can be seen at Ottawa’s St. Laurent LRT station, courtesy of Andrew Morrow. These 6meter tall images were delivered with native resolution of 300dpi (at size).
Generally these kinds of projects are billed on hourly basis.

photo credit Simon Sulyma (c) 2019

Other important money considerations

We offer 20% discount on multiple scans done at the same time – as long as you are willing to bring 3 or more artworks of the approximately same type / size.
Another consideration is the scale of the artwork – works measuring approximately 40″ x 60″ or less can be scanned at our regular scanning station. Works much larger than that will have to be set up for scanning in a larger part of the studio – which is laborious, hence the extra expenses: in these situations we add extra 25% surcharge (this does not apply to ultra-high-res scans, they are expensive enough as they are).

Ummm… but what about same day scans?

It is possible to arrange the scanning session and scan while you wait (by prior appointment only, no drop-ins possible with this scenario). This makes sense for artworks that have fragile elements and the artist wants to be present during the handling and process, as well as for very valuable art pieces that a client might not necessarily want to leave at the studio overnight. We charge extra 25% for same day scans.

What if you have a lot of artwork to scan?

In situations when we need to scan a larger number of works, as part of the same project, we offer our clients the opportunity to switch to time-based billing. Obviously this only makes sense for scanning projects that span days or weeks, but the upside is that you can get a much better cost per scan than under any other arrangement. Our studio time is charged at $100.00 per hour for individual artists and $150.00 per hour for corporate clients – and, obviously depending on how similar the pieces are – we definitely can go faster and save you significant amounts of $$$. Please be aware that under this scenario the time spent loading/unloading/packing/unpacking gets added to your bill, which is not the case with regular per-scan billing.

Working on location

Yes it is possible! We collaborate with a number of Toronto-based artists and galleries to bring our gear directly to their spaces and scan their works. The on-location fee is $250.00 per day (mostly used to cover insurance and transportation expense), and the actual scanning costs are on top of that.
We can do either per-scan billing (see above for scanning costs for different service brackets), or per-hour billing (again, see above).
On-location scanning has to be arranged at least 2 weeks in advance!

Un-scannable and difficult-to-scan art

In theory, anything that can be photographed can be scanned; although in practice this works out a bit differently – so I going to make a distinction: there are artworks that can be scanned in multiple passes, but not in a single pass; and there are artworks that can’t be scanned at all.

Lets first address the “un-scannable” artworks: these would be canvases taken off a stretcher. Because of all the paint at the edges, the folds never really go away, and the canvas won’t lay flat. This makes it impossible to set up since the relief will interfere with lighting, and besides the raised portions start falling out of focus. So, don’t do it.

The works that are difficult to scan fall into one of the following categories:
– artwork framed in deep frames
– artwork framed with glass
– artwork that incorporates holographic elements
– artwork that incorporates metallic and reflective elements
– artwork that is not flat (ie. convex/concave)
– artwork that is not rigid (ie. stretchy fabric, mesh, rubber, et&.)
– artwork that is flexible and fragile (ie. unfixed charcoal or graphite, or with other delicate surface elements), on thin base
– artwork that uses materials and/or pigments that look different under different types of lighting
– artwork with extruded, 3-dimensional components

All of these can be handled though, and in almost every single one of these examples this involves making several scans with different settings – ie. one with polarizer and one without, or moving lights around, or creating a dark room free of any other light sources, and so on and so forth – and then combining these multiple scans into one final image. So if it takes 3 scans to record all the necessary information, and then an hour in Photoshop putting it all together, that is what we going to have to charge. Please have your project quoted on before committing.