There are a few ways to go about framing pencil sketches. The first and obvious is to frame the original. If you want to go that route, you’re best to use a fixative to prevent the pencil from shading.
If you do go this route, the only other thing to make sure you do is to include a picture mount because even with a decent fixative, there’s a good chance that after a while, if the pencil is in contact with the frame, it’ll cause it to fade.
The second option you have requires more work and also needs a decent scanner and photo editing software.
Here are a few pointers to turn pencil sketches into digital files to print and frame.
Maintaining the Quality of Pencil Sketches when Scanning
- Experiment between grayscale, full colour and black and white
Most modern scanners have various settings letting you adapt your scan quality and how it scans. The grayscale option can work for smaller sized sketches. However, for more contrast and tonal range between the various shades, a black and white scan or full colour could improve the scan quality.
If your drawing has a lot of shading, go with the grayscale or full colour to capture the tonal ranges. If it’s a line art drawing without shading, black and white will do the trick. For coloured pencil drawings, use the full-colour setting.
- Warm your scanner up to get the best image scans
Scanners tend to take better scans once they’ve been run for a while. The heat can make a difference, so don’t settle for your first scan. Take a half dozen scans, save them to your computer and then review the image quality of each. You’ll likely find the later scans have better quality because the scanner has been heated.
- Use the highest DPI settings
On most standard home all-in-one printers, the highest dpi (dots per inch) is 300 dpi. There are far more capable scanners on the market able to scan to as high as 4800 dpi. The higher the dpi is, the longer it takes to scan. That’s because there are far more details being captured, giving you a lot more detail in your digitalised image.
Most pencil sketches should scan decently at a 600 dpi or 1200 dpi to capture tonal differences. The higher the settings, the more detail you’ll get.
If you need a higher dpi setting than your scanner has, ask around about photocopier services as most commercial photocopier units have good quality (usually flatbed) scanners integrated.
- Calibrate your scanner
Every scanner is different, but there’s almost always a calibration option. Check the instruction manual for your printer for details on how to do this on your model. With most, you select the options menu from your scanner software and choose the calibration option.
On higher-end scanners, you can calibrate white only using a blank sheet of printer paper, and a colour or black and white calibration using a suitable photo (or letter for black and white calibration). If you can calibrate for both white and colour, the quality of your scans will improve.
The Easiest Way to Digitalise a Pencil Sketch
Take a photo of it. That’s it. The ideal lighting to shoot the photo is natural light, with your flash turned off and by using the low exposure setting on your camera. Shooting at night under artificial light is likely to cause glare to affect your picture. Leave it until the morning and shoot the photo under natural light.
You can always edit to a higher contrast, which is easier than editing any glare issues out.