review of a good book on how to expand your horizons with your flatbed
you are about to buy a flatbed color scanner, or already own one,
then this book will certainly tell you 1001 things about flatbed
scanners that you will never find in any instruction book.
the Introduction and Chapter 1 and go straight to Chapters 2
and 3 which provide a quickie peek at the technology involved.
The "Technical Considerations" of Chapter 3 provide initial
warnings for the complex world of dpi versus lpi. As usual, the
book is written for people needing to print with an imagesetter.
Only occasional remarks cover the situation of laser printers, and
nothing about wide format or other inkjet printers. The authors
do an excellent job producing examples to show dramatically the
relationship between halftone screen frequency and overall quality
the example "scanning in grayscale or converting from color"
(p. 13) this seems to have been written before Photoshop was available
in version 5.0.2 because nowadays there is hardly a question, it
is usually much better to start in color and then go to grayscale
afterwards, and to go via channel mixing, not directly to grayscale
(see review of Margulis's
book). Anyone who has advanced to the point that they recognize
they need help (in the form of buying the book,"Start
with a Scan)" should also be absolutely sure that they
obtain a copy of how to work images in Photoshop in black and white.
Why black and white when you are working in color? Because the book
on black-and-white has no counterpart in color and because if you
learn how to handle black-and-white then you have a head start with
4, "Editing Scanned Images," is a tough assignment
for the authors because there are entire 300 page books that struggle
with the same questions that this book has only 10 pages for, but
10 pages is a start for people who perhaps have not yet advanced
to the 300-page version. Also, every book offers at least something
that is not present in the other books because each author brings
their own unique experience to the explanation. It would help to
have references to subjects that are only mentioned yet not covered,
such as calibration. I can see where the initials ICC might scare
away most of the targeted audience of this book, but sooner or later
any graphics design person will have to face color management profiles.
with a Scan book
to "Start with a Scan,"... the authors impart quite a
lot of information in 5 pages that takes entire chapters in other
books. Again, "Start with a Scan" is truly a book for
starters and initial intermediate level.
section on p. 19, "Scans used as a Visual Reference,"
actually is about the first time I have seen this trick mentioned
in print, probably because many digital graphics people discover
the trick on their own. For example, if you plan to print only black
and white the "true" colors are not as important as is
the final image in grayscale. Thus you can change the colors to
look best in black and white without worrying about the color balance
in color mode.
on silhouetting is a good introduction. I find that you sometimes
have to alter the object or the background color or contrast to
allow the Photoshop tools to pick up the differences. It would have
helped if you learned in Chapter 4 that silhouetting was also covered
again, in more detail, in Chapter 11, pp 110-111.
5, Working with Printed Clip Art as well as Chapter 6
are more in the realm of graphics design than managing a flatbed
scanner. Thus the book truly follows its title, "START with
a Scan." In effect the subtitle is the real subject of the
book, "Guide to Transforming Scanned Photos and Objects into
High Quality Art." Chapter 7 returns the reader to the meat
of flatbed scanning, using the scanner as a creative digital input
7, Creating Textures and Backgrounds will escort you above and
beyond the mundane uses of a flatbed scanner. Now you can do fun
things and use the scanner as a form of digital camera.
8, Working with Scanned Photographs, suddenly takes you back
to Adobe Photoshop and thus follows Chapter 4. Chapters 9 and
10 take you back to graphics design, and thus follows Chapter
11 in turn takes you back to Chapter 7; these are my two favorite
chapters, and they could easily have followed one another instead
of being separated by Chapters 8 through 11. Chapter 11 is "Scanning
Real Objects," in other words, scanning 3-D objects.
through Chapter 11 the authors depart from scanning objects to manipulating
the scans in Photoshop or turning the scans into montages. A new
chapter should have been initiated.
12 starts out with 3-D multimedia and then jumps through a variety
of unrelated topics. They obviously want to leave no stone unturned,
but most readers will skip the final pages and opt for an entire
book that covers those topics in more detail.
final section, "Resources" (p. 133) is fine up to the
point where it lists only three scanner companies, Eastman Kodak,
LaCie, and Microtek. What about Umax
(Heidelberg and LinoColor)? Eastman Kodak is about the last company
that I would associate with a good scanner. No scanner software
seems to be listed, and zilch on how to store or handle your scans
after you have them. This is why we have entire sections on RAID,
DVD-RAM, CD-R and other storage devices.
the technical illustrations look nice (if you need illustrations
to guide you through a product or process, check out the best illustrations
anywhere, by Agfa). Peachpit Press has made the effort to provide
good paper and allow color illustrations on most pages (not merely
restricted to a lone color signature in the middle of the book).
Actually there are more illustrations than there is text in almost
all chapters. I like any book that explains how
to scan 3-D
objects, since this is what I enjoy experimenting
page 7 suggests that a Kodak Photo CD gives "quality rivaling
the drum scanner." That is utter nonsense. The Kodak CD system
was made for Bubba and Barbie Doll Doe in Lowendsville, Idaho. Even
Kodak admits that in the Official Kodak Photo CD Book (also Peachpit
Press). To find out what the Kodak system will really do to any
slide unfortunate enough to go through this system, read the book
(or take a peek at my review).
if you have never scanned anything before in your life, or if you
just started and want to go deeper, this is a good book to buy.
Peachpit Press obviously checks out their prospective books before
they publish them, so in general you can count on good books from
this publisher. If, however, you are looking for a book to take
you towards the high end of scanning technology, you need to keep
looking, though you still should seriously consider buying this
book to tide you through your search.
personal considerations: it is hard to find a book that offers
experience at the high end even the high portion of midrange, much
less the full high-end. Admittedly, most of the readers of this
book will have a Microtek or Umax
scanner, less likely a LinoColor
Elite software. There are probably not many owners of Creo scanners
or the impressive high-end Fuji C-550 Lanovia, Heidelberg Topaz,
or ScanView Scanmate pro scanners who will be buying this book.
At least a peek at the high-end of flatbed scanning is introduced
on my web site www.flatbed-scanner-review.org.
observations: nowadays, when people can have access to sophisticated
software such as Silver Fast, the imaging of files can happen within
the scanner software, before the image even reaches Photoshop.
Fast is a scanner software and
still works together with Photoshop, yet saves many stops in Adobe
Photoshop. Overall, the controls and interface of Silver Fast is
superior, indeed good enough that it is worthwhile buying Silver
Fast even if you already have other scanner software and already
elsewhere there is now dual-mode software (from RIP companies) that
takes a scan and prepares it for a wide format printer without passing
through all the other stages. Straight from scanner to RIP into
the wide format printer.