Cool site. Is there a FAQ or guidelines anywhere? I wanna upload some covers to contribute, but wanna do so correctly. Anyone have any scanning tips they want to share?
I do have some scanning tips I would like to share. You didn't mention which type of covers you are scanning, I will be discussing DVD cover and disk scans which is 98% of my work currently. I am NOT an expert; I just want to share a couple of self-learned tips. The first annoying thing I discovered when I tried scanning a DVD cover was that it did not sit completely flat while being scanned even though the scanner cover was of course closed. That is because the part of the lid that pushes the document down is basically padded (at least mine is). This allows the middle of the DVD cover (spline area) to not sit flat. Depending on the particular cover your scanning, this will usually leave minor to major shadows and slightly distort the image in that area. What I do to completely eliminate this problem is place a large hardcover cooking book on top of the document I'm scanning. I located the perfect hardcover book in my house that is slightly larger than a DVD cover outstretched but small enough to lie flat within the outer ridge on the scanner. I taped white paper on the side of the book that is used to simulate the scanner cover. My book is heavy too, because it's about two inches thick. I've also been taking the original DVD covers out and placing them inside the pages of the cookbook overnight before I make my scan although I don't think it makes any difference other than making it a little bit easier to load the document straight AND KEEP it straight while lowering the cookbook over it, right before scanning. (This does not flatten out the DVD cover enough to scan without the book on top in my experience, with my scanner.) Make sure the scanner glass is dust free, your document clean. Put the document down on the scanner as straight as possible. Carefully put one (long) edge of the book down on the scanner without touching the document, I put mine right against the ridge on the edge of the scanner glass. Bring the book down like your closing a door and the document won't move much, if at all. I'm not sure what everyone else's scanner software is like so I will just assume it works like mine, ha ha. Anyhow, I next "preview" the image and adjust the scanning area. Even if it appears to be lying perfectly straight I still leave a little wiggle room and save the final cropping for Photoshop. If you like high-resolution stuff set your scanner at 300 to 400 DPI, I set mine at 400. I tried 600 once and didn't like the results.
Before I make the actual scan I click the "auto tone" on and off while looking at the little preview picture and decide what will probably make the best results. I do the same with the "backlight correction." Sometimes it's one, sometimes the other, sometimes both and sometimes none. It depends on the image being scanned. I leave all the other settings such as unsharp mask, descreen, reduce dust and scratches, fading correction, grain correction, alone. I recently scanned and printed a couple of covers and I honestly thought mine looked better than the originals in some ways (not counting the fine, fine print resolution) an inkjet just isn't THAT good.
I'm very happy with the Canon scanner I own. It makes wonderful scans, more on that later.
Occasionally I can't make up my mind looking at the little preview picture box and make two scans, and decide which one looks best later while comparing the two at actual resolution. After I've saved the image I open it up in Photoshop. The first thing I do is rotate the image, (click "image" and then "rotate canvas") and make it so you can read it without tilting your head. I then zoom in about four clicks and move the image around to the edges of my screen. What I mean is I look for straight "lines" of any type including the edge of the scan to compare with the horizontal and vertical edges of my computer screen while sliding the image around. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes I get lucky and it needs no adjustment, but it's no problem if it needs to be tweaked. With Photoshop again click on "image" then "rotate canvas" and finally "arbitrary." This one lets you rotate the image clockwise or counterclockwise in super small increments. I'm usually using it to the tune of .4 or .05 or somewhere in between. You can do it over and over until it appears damn near perfect. Now you're ready to crop! When cropping, try to cut as little of the image away as possible. You can always crop a little more a second time. I like to use the "clone stamp tool" to fix imperfections, maybe a little dust spot here and there, fill in the edge of the paper that may have been scuffed and maybe even fill in the corners on an image that had rounded corners (on some DVD's) so my print will be complete and I won't need to pull out the scissors and get surgical for that stock rounded look. This is what I've been doing lately, you won't see rounded corners on my uploads any more but that doesn't mean they are cropped off, I just filled in the corners, yeah baby!
A little tiny bit of the image edge is typically lost in cropping and again when the printed image is cut. This doesn't always matter with some covers but others have pictures or information real close to the edge that I don't like to lose. I then save the image, overwriting the original from the scanner because I don't need that anymore. I let Photoshop compress the image a little, usually eight or nine on the image quality options section. I don't believe these images need to be 10 MB as some are. I'm usually uploading DVD covers between 2 and 5 MB I believe.
The disks go a lot faster, I use a different program to crop them before printing or uploading. The disks should be preferably cropped to the edge of the design not the edge of the disk itself.
If all of this seems excessive, I understand, not everybody is this obsessed.
Try to find something to hold your document FLAT, as shadows are sooo unflattering. If you don't have Photoshop or any other way to straighten the image before cropping, just KEEP TRYING to load it straight on the scanner bed. That's what I did before I got a little better with Photoshop. If you can't scan it straight or rotate it properly, don't do a final crop as someone else can do it after downloading before printing. When a "final crop" is performed on an image that is not straight, some of the image is being thrown away. I would also suggest rotating the image 90 degrees if needed before uploading so that it appears "correctly" like 99% of the covers already on this site. Apparently the moderators are not going to take the time to do it for you.
I recently had some unwanted lines show up on a scan that were apparently generated by the scanner. I clicked a button titled "calibration" with the cover closed and document removed, and the problem was solved.
I hope this helps; it works for me.