How do I scan a full color business card to maintain the colors
April 29, 2006 3:41 AM   Subscribe

I've recently been given the task of scanning full color business cards to recreate them with changes. What is the best way to scan the cards to maintain the color of the cards. These cards are to be reprinted and have to be saved in CMYK mode and they should ideally be as sharp as the original. I have no way of getting the original artwork
posted by aisleofview to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
How are they going to be printed (ie: what kind of printer/press)? That's going to determine the scanning requirements.

Also, it will never be as sharp as the original. When you scan these cards, you are not getting a copy of the photo/graphics in the form/clarity of the original. You are actually just scanning what the press/printer put on the paper.

If you are changing text, you will have to photo edit the scans to recreate the background. When you put your new text on top of that background, the text will be markedly more sharp than the card, no matter what resolution.

Editorial: Your task is a massively bad idea to do with the business cards. They will not look crisp, clean or professional. Not because of any failing on your part, but because of the physics involved in the assignment. That is the total opposite impression you want to give with a business card. Tell your boss that the better idea is to redesign the cards and have them professionally printed.
posted by sandra_s at 4:30 AM on April 29, 2006

Depending on the cards, it be easier to retype the text in quark or indesign. That's the only way you have them look as sharp as the originals.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:49 AM on April 29, 2006

I'm not really a designer, but at one point in my career I was tasked with jobs like this - and I agree with the previous two posters that you're going about this the wrong way.

The only way that I know to go about this is to fire up Illustrator and re-create the artwork and use that to re-build a template for an entirely "new" card, and then add the correct information and print (or send for printing).
posted by mikel at 4:58 AM on April 29, 2006

Ok, I've got to add the fourth vode for "don't!"

If you don't know what the difference between a vector and a raster image is, and what the implications for printed output are for each, go figure it out before you do this.

In a nutshell: the original artwork on these cards (and the text, after a fashion) was probably created in Illustrator (Freehand, Indesign, Quark, etc.) and were thus vectors. If it's not photographic in origin, they almost certainly were. You will, in the course of scanning, be converting these images to a raster format, unless you manually redraw each one. This is, as already noted, a Bad Idea. These raster images, unless printed in a single ink (that is, not CMYK!) will have a halftone screen imposed on them, which will at best add a subtle fuzz around their edges, and at worst interfere with any screens already present, creating an ugly moire.
You will also be "reinterpreting" the original colors, filtering them through the scanner, your monitor and the press/printer you use to print the resulting cards. The original mixture of cyan, magenta, yellow and black won't be replicated, and if the cards used a spot color (for instance, a Pantone color, one not made by mixing C, M, Y & K) you may not be able to even come close--it may be outside the output method's gamut.
Convince your taskmasters that this is worth being done right, unless nobody's ever going to use these as business cards.
posted by pullayup at 6:07 AM on April 29, 2006

Um, I mean that simply scanning and reprinting the cards would be a Bad Idea. Redrawing them might actually be the Least Bad Bad Idea; I've had to resort to this before, when the originals just aren't there. Sorry 'bout the ambiguity.
posted by pullayup at 6:13 AM on April 29, 2006

If there's no other choice, get the printer to do the scanning. They will probably have better scanning equipment, be better able to adjust the scan to what their printing equipment requires -- and you won't be blamed for the defects.
posted by winston at 7:15 AM on April 29, 2006

Your best bet is just to rebuild the file from scratch. Chances are if you scan it in and then try to print from that file, you will have a terrible moire pattern. It will probably be easier and less time-consuming to re-do the cards.
posted by Ostara at 8:54 AM on April 29, 2006

just for redundancy's sake, i'm going to echo the crowd and say you need to do a redesign. if you don't really know what you're doing, the "scan > edit > print" method will only lead to heartbreak.
posted by ab3 at 10:11 AM on April 29, 2006

I agree with the chorus. This is just a bad bad idea.

Your best bet it to scan the cards and use them as a template over which you build fresh art.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:07 PM on April 29, 2006

As a prepressman and production artist I have to do what you describe nearly every day. All the points made above are correct, you're going to have to bite the bullet and recreate the card. Scan it, place it in whatever program you're most comfortable with (except PhotoShop. Never create text for print in PhotoShop!), and trace away.

It's tedious, but the end result will be a lot more pleasing and professional.
posted by lekvar at 1:07 PM on April 29, 2006

You can, of course, ask if one of the many designers here on MeFi could help you out...for a nominal fee.
hint, hint
posted by Thorzdad at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2006

This is basically what I had to do 90% of the time in my old job, so here are my tips on recreating the cards as close to the original as possible.
  1. First, as everyone previously has said, you must recreate the logos and text. I recommend doing everything in Illustrator because you will end up with more control over the final product.
  2. As for color, this is how my boss taught me to recreate colors in CMYK when recreating artwork in this manner: Get your hands on a Pantone color guide, and find the colors that match the colors on the card the absolute *closest.* Go into the Pantone PMS palette in Illustrator, pull the colors that match the card into your color palette. I know you're printing in CMYK, bear with me. Color the parts of the card with the PMS color swatches (duh). Before you save your final version to output for printing, select all the PMS colors from your color palette and drag them into the trash. Now when you click on the logo that was colored with that spot color, it will have a close CMYK readout of the pantone color that was used.
That's my advice. Also, if the client for whom you're recreating the business card for would actually like to have a copy of the vectorized logo let them know you can save them a copy in .eps, .ai, and a raster image in CMYK and RGB for a price.
posted by zippity at 2:31 PM on April 29, 2006

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