Open Menu

soul of fine art

 

NAVIGATION NOTE: Click on the product underlined text links below to jump to that review.

 

NOTE: Please bookmark this page for future "reference."

 

ARTRAGE 4 /Even Better / What’s New!

artrage 4 banner

Ambient Design Ltd

 

WACOM INTUOS PRO / For Professionals

intuos pro banner

INTUOS 5 REBRANDED AS INTUOS PRO

 

vuescan banner

 

VUESCAN / Scanning Software fills a big niche

 

With tutorial recommendations from lynda.com and Rocky Nook, Inc.

lynda.com logorocky nook banner

 

by Eden Maxwell

 

Spring, 2014

 

"Politicians seek approval, not the true artist."


—Deepak Chopra

 

artrage 4 banner 2

ARTRAGE 4 / AMBIENT DESIGN, LTD.

WHAT'S NEW?

ArtRage 4 is a natural media painting and drawing program that fills a successful niche by focusing more on traditional tools than on a showy parade of special effects.

NOTE: If you haven’t yet worked with ArtRage, I encourage you to read my review of ArtRage Studio 3.5 here, which will give you an in-depth overview. Then, return here for this update.

EVEN BETTER

ArtRage 4 is more about improving existing features than adding a slew of new ones, although there are few new tools, too, plus stickers and stencils that are not only for kids.

USER INTERFACE / WORKBENCH MODE / LESS IS MORE

The ArtRage 4 interface is well thought out and consequently easy to master. You can also modify the interface to suit your needs.

While hitting the tab key removes the menu panel, and both the tool and color picker, you might at times want to clear all the Pods and Panels off the Canvas for a screen free of any distractions.

WORKBENCH MODE / TOOLBAR

The new Workbench mode allows you to work with as much of the screen clear as possible, as it collapses the workspace, allowing you to focus on the work. When you turn this mode on, all the Pods and Panels that are currently overlapping the Canvas remain hidden.

Workbench mode gives you access to a compressed form of the interface, the Workbench Toolbar, which is laid out in individual segments containing controls of a specific type. The layout of the Workbench toolbar can be either horizontal or vertical depending on its docked location.

Workbench mode is accessed from the ‘View’ Menu. You can also toggle Workbench mode on and off by right-clicking directly on the Canvas, or pressing the Return key on a Mac.

NOTE: For a completely clean work area, you can also remove the Workbench toolbar by clicking on the arrow on the upper righthand side of your screen.

WORKBENCH MODE / PINBOARD

As noted above, Workbench mode presents a focused environment for working while providing convenient access to important app functionality accessed via icons; additionally, this mode includes a Pinboard area for storing custom objects that are pertinent and pinned to your current work.

TOOLBOX PANEL

The Toolbox Panel in the Workbench toolbar is a place where you can store custom resources that are relevant to a specific painting: colors, layers, tracing images, tools, and utilities.

A Tracing Image, for example, that has been loaded can be added to the Toolbox. When stored, it retains all of its settings including scale and opacity. The contents of the Toolbox are stored with the painting itself—then, when you reload it, the Toolbox is restored in tact with the original data.

The Toolbox Panel feature is a close cousin to Corel Painter’s custom palettes.

NOTE: In the Samples pod, you can now store Swatch sets in a user collection, giving you access to a custom palette for future use.

 

family time

Family Time


REFERENCES / STENCILS

Any active stencil, Reference Image, Scrap, or View that is currently in the painting can also be stored in the Toolbox.

CLONER / NEW SPECIAL EFFECT TOOL

The Cloner replicates paint already on your canvas. By first setting a Source point then painting into a new area, you can repeat existing detail on the canvas, or duplicate patterns and color blends that you've already applied.

SETTING CLONE SOURCE

All Cloner operations need a Source for the paint to replicate. You can define the Clone Source in one of two ways:

1) If you have not already defined a Source, the first time you click with the Cloner on the Canvas your Source point will be defined.

2) At any point when using the Cloner, hold down Alt (Windows) / Option (OS X) and click on the canvas to define the Source point.

CLONER FEATURES

1) Clone Source: As noted above, all Cloner operations need a source, which is the point from which the Cloner takes paint to replicate.

2) Replication: The Cloner precisely recreates paint from its source area at the cursor. It will replace any paint already on the canvas at that point without blending. It also means that the Cloner will replicate any paint wetness or texture from its source area.

3) Head Control: The Cloner allows you to soften the edges of its brush head to help blend the replicated paint with paint already on the canvas. It also allows flow control like the Airbrush.

4) Opacity: Controls the overall opacity of the cloned paint, as it is applied.

With the Cloner, you can adjust blend mode, opacity, hardness, autoflow, and relative offset. You can also use the cloner to remove unwanted areas of an image.

NOTE: Unlike Layer Blend Modes, the blend mode used by the Cloner is applied as it lands on other colors already on the Canvas; it doesn’t alter the color of the paint if it lands on a blank area of Canvas.

CLONER HELP

The Cloner tool isn’t exactly intuitive. You’ll have to experiment until you get the hang of it; here is a helpful tutorial link to get you started.

NEW FILLS

In addition to the Cloner, ArtRage 4 now also supports Gradient and Pattern Fills.

TOOL PRESETS

Although tool Presets are not new, it’s worth mentioning again how they work.

As Presets are exact combinations of settings, a Preset loses its highlight in the tool Settings panel when you change any setting. If you change anything, the tool settings no longer reflect the content of that preset. You can save presets, too.

You can also optionally store current color and brush size with your tool presets.

TOOL CONTROLS

ArtRage 4 has added handy and useful tool control enhancements. For example, you can now adjust Bristle stiffness and Head aspect control on supported brushes, such as the Oil paint tool. With aspect control, you can alter a round oil brush into more of a fan shape to get the most out of rotation when using the supported Wacom Art pen.

Bristle stiffness makes your strokes more scratchy and less opaque at 100%, and fully dense at 0% on the slider.

WATER GLASS POD / DIRTY BRUSHES

Although not a new feature, I like the water glass metaphor with its bubbly sounds for cleaning a supported brush.

You can set up ArtRage so that some tools don’t completely reload their head with color at the end of every stroke. These tools (for example, the oil or watercolor unclean brush) pick up color from the Canvas and remain dirty until you manually clean them.

Tools supporting manual cleaning have a Water Glass Pod next to the color picker. Clicking the pod cleans your brush head. Unlike tedious real world cleaning, no water is wasted and the water pod never gets dirty. If your current tool doesn’t require manual cleaning, the Water Glass will vanish.

CLEAN ME NOT

When you continue painting from paint that previously blended on the brush head, you can get some interesting effects by not cleaning the brush.

 

welcome pilgrim detail

Welcome Pilgrim (detail)

 

TRANSFORM TOOL / NON-UNIFORM / PERSPECTIVE

The Transform Tool in ArtRage 4 now supports non-uniform and perspective transformations.

A Non Uniform Transformation alters the behavior of the Corner Handles that appear on the transform area. Non Uniform Transformations allow you to drag individual corners out of line with their neighbors—meaning that you can stretch the object out of its normal shape.

Perspective Transformations are similar to Non Uniform Transformations in that they allow you to drag a corner independent of the connected corners. ArtRage then treats the new shape as if it were a 3D surface that has been tilted with perspective.

CANVAS CONTROLS / CANVAS PATTERN

You can now also include Colored Canvas Patterns in the Canvas settings pod. Canvases can have colored patterns applied to them to represent colored variations on the surface. For example, a handmade paper might contain tiny colored threads in it, or a natural surface such as wood or stone might have color modulations.

To begin experimenting with patterns, go to the Patterns tab, then choose ‘select from collection’.

LAYERS / LAYER CONTROL

ArtRage 4 has a redesigned layer palette with easier access to different functions, such as delete, add layer group, lock, and other options.

LAYER PAINT LOCK, LAYER TRANSFORM LOCK

The Layer Locks (Paint Layers Only) button allows you to lock various aspects of the layer to prevent editing. If the lock icon is open then nothing is locked; if it is closed, then some aspect of the layer has been locked. Locks can be applied as follows:

In addition to Lock Transparency (where no new areas of paint can be added), which was available in ArtRage Studio Pro, the new release also offers:

1) Lock All: This option prevents any changes being made to the layer.

2) Lock Paint: Locks the layer so that no new areas of paint can be added and existing paint cannot be modified by paint strokes.

3) Lock Position: Locks the layer so that it cannot be scaled or moved by the Transform tool.

ENHANCED REFERENCE PANEL / IMAGES / VIEWS / PIN SCRAPS

ArtRage 4 has greatly improved upon the options available in the Reference panel. ArtRage users are already familiar with a Reference Image, such as a photograph pinned to the canvas to act as a visual guide.

NOTE: You can drag any Reference off and beyond the canvas window. While you can have multiple Views open, you can have only one main file open at a time.

VIEWS

In a practical sense, new Views provides a secondary screen option for the painting you’re working on. Views are extra reference panels you can pin on the canvas; Views lets you work on the entire image while also working on detailed closeup portions of your painting. You can have multiple Views open and pinned to the canvas.

Views save you time in that you can work on details while still viewing the larger canvas. A View can be set to display all or part of the canvas and lets you zoom and pan independent of the full image.

Pin Views can be independently zoomed and panned for alternative views to the canvas. Here’s a link to a tutorial about Views.

SCRAPS

Scraps are independent mini-canvases for color mixing or test painting. All the drawing tools work within Scraps. Although strokes on a Scrap are not reflected on the full image, you can copy details on the Scrap to its own layer.

Scraps use whichever tool and color is currently selected. Scraps have their own Undo / Redo system that can be accessed using the Undo and Redo buttons on the Scrap’s tool tray.

Additionally, you can use Scraps not only as mixing palettes, but also as pieces of paper for jotting down notes or ideas, or surfaces for experimenting with tool settings without having to edit your main canvas.

You can sample color from a scrap by holding down Alt (Windows) or Option (OS X) and clicking inside it.

BACKUP FILES / ADVANCED PREFERENCES

ArtRage can automatically back up your files, as you save them. If you’re working on an important project, have any stability issues, or simply want peace of mind this system allows for keeping previous versions available. The slider in Advance Preferences indicates how many backup files will be stored, from 0 to 26.

When the value of the slider is above 0, whenever you save a file, ArtRage first renames the original version of that file on disk, adding ‘Gen<X>’ to the end of the filename, where <X> is replaced by a letter of the alphabet from A to Z. Should something go wrong, the automagtic save feature will be priceless.

SCRIPTING / DEFINING PLAYBACK RESOLUTION

Scripting allows users to record what is being done on the canvas. Scripts can also record actions, such as adding a drop shadow. ArtRage 4 offers more control and options for scripting that the previous release.

If, for example, you want to record your painting strokes, you can now define script playback resolution in screen or print units (inches, centimeters, millimeters). If you opt to play back the script at a custom size, you have full control over the sizing of the new file as per the new file dialog.

Because the Script records the process of painting rather than the resulting image, playing Scripts back at different sizes allows you to recreate them as if they had originally been painted at that size. The result is a higher quality means for scaling images.

PAINT SYMMETRY / MIRRORED OR ROTATIONAL

The Paint Symmetry system in ArtRage 4 offers more than simple symmetry; Paint Symmetry is sophisticated with many options. Symmetry automatically creates mirrored strokes on the canvas, as you paint, and allows control over the numbers of axes of symmetry, center point, and rotation.

You control Symmetry from the Paint Symmetry menu in the Tools Menu. When Symmetry is turned on any stroke you make on the canvas will be mirrored in other positions based on the settings you have selected.

Paint Symmetry can be set to create some wonderful strokes and interactions. Two important settings that define how symmetry works:

1) Number of Segments: This value defines how many different symmetry segments there are. Your stroke is repeated in every segment on the canvas.

2) Type of Symmetry: This value defines whether the repeated strokes are directly mirrored, or rotated around the center point.

WACOM STYLUS SUPPORT / MUCH IMPROVED

ArtRage 4 has greatly improved its support for the Wacom tablet and stylus pen through two new panels. This feature, which includes Tools and options that can be assigned to unique styluses, is one of ArtRage 4’s major enhancements.

STYLUS PROPERTIES PANEL

The Stylus Properties Panel allows you to assign the Pressure, Airbrush Wheel, and Twist properties of a stylus to individual settings in each tool. This panel contains a list of all of the stylus properties supported by the tool. For example, the Oil Brush supports Pen Pressure, Airbrush Wheel, and Pen Twist, or Rotation.

Beside each property is a list of Tool Settings that will be affected by that property. For example, the Oil Brush Size is being affected by Pen Pressure. As you press harder, the brush size increases.

STYLUS CONTROL CENTER

The Stylus Control Center allows you to assign properties to each unique stylus ArtRage has detected in use.

Types of stylus recognized include a generic ‘Stylus’, a Wacom Airbrush Stylus that supports Airbrush Wheel properties, and a Wacom 6D Art Pen Stylus (applies also to the Wacom Art pen for Intuos) that supports Pen Twist or rotation properties).

At the top of the panel is a checkbox that allows you to turn off stylus tracking. Consequently, ArtRage will not store or assign settings to the styluses you use. The menu button at the top of the panel allows you to save out sets of settings that you have assigned, so you can load them back in again later.

NOTE: You can give your stylus a unique name by clicking on ‘untitled’ in the Stylus Control Center.

STYLUS RECOGNITION

Stylus Recognition is a sophisticated system that does more than recognize different stylus types (e.g. Grip Pen, Art pen, Airbrush etc.), it also recognizes different styluses of the same type. You can, for example, use different styluses of the same type to represent different tasks in a painting (pen, brush, and pencil, and their associated presets via assign current settings), using each one as if it were a specific real world tool.

NOTE: The Stylus Recognition process relies on making stylus changes. No changes will be applied to the settings allocated to the current stylus until a different stylus is brought close to the canvas.

If you don’t specifically lock a stylus in the list, then each time you bring a stylus close to the tablet the tool settings that were applied when it was last used are restored.

CONCLUSION

While ArtRage 4 isn’t an über release, Ambient Design nevertheless invested a lot of thought and development into making the new features work smoothly, and that’s what makes the app valuable. During my time with ArtRage 4, I mercifully experienced no crashes.

It’s simple. New users would do well to add ArtRage 4 to their digital painting toolkit. Current ArtRage users will be pleased that they upgraded to ArtRage 4, which is especially attractive at a sizable discount.

Download the ArtRage 4 demo here.

ArtRage 4
$49.90
upgrade: 50% discount
Ambient Design Ltd.

 

INTUOS PRO TABLET FROM WACOM

FOR PROFESSIONALS

 

intuos pro tablet

The Touch Ring on the left is handy.

INTUOS PRO (MEDIUM) TABLET FROM WACOM

Rebranding / What’s New / Customizing

As many of you may already know, Wacom recently rebranded its line of tablets. The Intuos 5 is now the Intuos Pro.

The Intuos Pro (medium model for this article) is a marvelous bit of technology—an input tablet for fine artists, graphic artists, photo editors, and retouchers—anyone who needs optimum stylus control over their work.

TWEAKING THE TABLET DESIGN

Although the Intuos Pro is nearly identical to its Intuos 5 predecessor, there are a few differences. Let’s look at them and some options for customizing your tablet experience.

Three notable changes you’ll find with Intuos Pro are Wireless mode (now standard), the ExpressKeys, and the tablet surface. Also, the active drawing area (The section of your tablet that senses touch or pen input) is only slightly larger.

WIRELESS

Intuos 5 offered an optional ($39.90) wireless kit. For the sticker price the Intuos Pro includes the wireless wifi option that now works significantly better that the previous bluetooth connection.

The wireless module requires a USB port to function. I plug mine into one of the keyboard ports, which also makes for better wifi reception.

 

 

intuos pro special edition

Intuos Pro Special Edition with silver accents

 

EXPRESSKEYS REIMAGINED

The eight programmable ExpressKeys on the Intuos 5 were molded and recessed close together under the surface. Intuos Pro reworked this design for a better spaced ExpressKey layout that is slightly raised, and die cut into the surface, making for an improved tactile response.

Running your fingers over the raised ExpressKeys to bring up the ExpressKey display is now more reliable. The ExpressKey display (a heads-up) on your monitor describes the assigned ExpressKey functions. The display fades out after 2 seconds onscreen.

To customize the ExpressKeys, select the ExpressKeys tab in Wacom tablet preferences. Each key can be customized to perform a Display Toggle, modifier, keystroke, or other function.

NOTE: The small version of the Intuos Pro is equipped with six ExpressKeys.

CURRENT EXPRESSKEY FUNCTIONS

To view the current ExpressKeys functions at-a-glance, select the settings option button for an onscreen interactive diagram of the current ExpressKey, Touch Ring, pen, and touch settings.

The LED labels on the previous version that displayed the functionality you had assigned to your buttons are now gone. The more you use ExpressKeys, the more you are going to find ways to improve your workflow.

NOTE: When assigning a keyboard shortcut, for example, to an ExpressKey, make sure you highlight the target application in Wacom preferences. Otherwise, your keyboard shortcut won’t work in that app—this also applies for customizing your pens, too.

MULTI-TOUCH / TABLET SURFACE

The Intuos Pro tablet surface has a bit more tooth than its Intuos 5 predessor, making for a more tactile response when using the pen or the multi-touch feature.

Touch enables you to interact with a computer using your fingertips on the Intuos Pro tablet.

You can use touch on Intuos Pro as you would on any other Mac (MacBook Pro) or Windows device, such as phones, trackpads, and notebooks. Touch is activated whenever you touch the tablet. But, don’t keep your stylus near the surface while touching, as this may cause the touch feature to work erratically, if at all. You can toggle touch on or off via the ExpressKey display. In essence, by turning touch on, you transform the stylus tablet into a trackpad.

SETTING THE TOUCH OPTIONS

Select the Touch Options tab in Wacom tablet preferences. Touch options determine how fast you must move or tap your fingers in order for an action or gesture to be recognized.

Note: Touch speed and acceleration settings are independent of system settings. Changes you make to these settings in the Wacom Tablet control panel don’t affect similar system settings. But, changes made to similar system settings may affect your Intuos Pro tablet settings. As you can see, the touch feature is an evolving technology.

USING AND CUSTOMIZING THE RADIAL MENU

If you haven’t yet done so, I suggest that you investigate the time-saving features of the Radial Menu, which is an unobtrusive pop-up onscreen menu that provides immediate access to editing, navigation, media control functions, and more.

The Radial Menu is built around eight pie slices, each having a function assigned to it. You can, for example, bring up the Radial Menu onscreen with a three-finger tap, or assign the function to one of the eight ExpressKeys.

 

pen and stand

 

EIGHT SLICE PIE

Keyboard shortcuts often require committing to memory cryptic key combinations. In this regard, the Radial Menu can help out in a big way.

After programming the Radial Menu to suit you, it soon becomes a convenient means for bringing up the desired keyboard shortcut, saving you quite a bit of time. You can, for example, assign various brush sizes of an app to several segments of the menu. In the lynda.com Wacom Essential Training, instructor John Derry shows you how to make those brush size assignments. You can go still deeper, as the Radial Menu also features a submenu system.

USING THE TOUCH RING

The Touch Ring is yet another versatile way to initiate often used keyboard commands. You slide your finger around the ring to zoom in or out, scroll up or down, or to issue the assigned keystroke functions.

Pressing the Center Button toggles between four customizable modes. As you toggle between settings, a corresponding status
LED illuminates. Any disabled settings are skipped in the toggle sequence.

As you press the Center toggle, a handy onscreen diagram of the current Touch Ring settings appears briefly on your display screen.

NOTE: In wireless mode, pressing the Center Button toggles the tablet on.

CUSTOMIZING THE TOUCH RING

To customize the Touch Ring, select the Touch Ring tab in Wacom preferences. Touch Ring functions can be modified to perform various zooming, scrolling, or custom keystroke actions.

To customize the ring for other actions, select the keystroke option and define a custom keystroke function supported by your particular application.

NOTE: Some applications can override and control the Touch Ring functions. For example, I’ve noticed this unexpected behavior when working with Ulysses III, a first-rate writing platform for all types of texts. Sliding my finger around the ring in Dreamweaver also creates strange behavior, such as inputing a series of brackets instead of programmed functions.

 

art pen

Wacom Art Pen: Once you discover the expressiveness of the Art Pen, you won’t look back.

 

THE STYLUS / PEN

Cordless and conveniently battery-free, the Intuos Pro Pen immediately senses the amount of pressure and tilt you apply to it, making for a natural media feel.

There are four basic techniques for using the pen on the active area of the tablet: pointing, clicking, double-clicking, and dragging.

Note: The pen disengages touch whenever the pen tip or eraser is within the tablet proximity range (approximately 10 mm or .04 inch from the tablet surface). To enable touch mode, lift the pen away from the tablet active area.

Should you experience unintended touch actions, simply disable touch manually by pressing an ExpressKey set to toggle touch on/off. Press the ExpressKey again to enable touch. You can also use the Tablet control panel in Wacom preferences to disable touch, or through the Wacom Desktop Center.

 

 

John Derry introduces his Wacom Essential Training from lynda.com.

 

CUSTOMIZING THE PEN / STYLUS

Open the Wacom Tablet control panel with your pen. The active pen in use will be automatically selected in the Tool list and the applicable tabs will be displayed. Select a tab and choose from the available customizable options.

Wacom offers a number of optional pens, such as the Art Pen and Airbrush that are compatible for use with Intuos Pro.

1. The Art Pen features a pressure-sensitive tip and eraser, as well as sensitivity to tilt and rotation. Rotating the barrel in supporting applications creates unique effects.

2. The Airbrush is a true digital airbrush. It features a pressure-sensitive tip and eraser, tilt sensitivity, and a finger-wheel to control the application of digital paint.

NOTE: The Art pen is slightly heftier than the standard Grip Pen that ships with Intuos Pro.

WORKING WITH TILT

The tablet recognizes when you tilt the pen from vertical to incline positions. Tilt (including rotation with the Art Pen) can be used to control line shape and thickness in supporting applications—thin line when the tool is vertical, or wide when the tool is tilted.

You can, in some applications, adjust tilt to define brush characteristics such as width, color, and opacity.

 

art pen derry

John Derry explains the merits of the Wacom Art Pen in his Wacom Essential Training.

 

ÜBER ART PEN

Once you discover the expressiveness of the Art Pen, you won’t look back. Although the Grip Pen, the Art Pen, and the Airbrush Pen all have 2048 levels of pressure and an eraser tip, the Art Pen is capable of capturing all the movements of the artist's hand, including, as noted above, Barrel Rotation.

As the stylus senses barrel rotation, it's matched with non-symmetric dab shapes. Wider aspect area fan shaped brushes add a new level of realism to your brush strokes and can be more expressive than round brushes.

WHICH PEN?

Since the Grip and Art Pens appear almost identical, you may while working want a visual cue to tell one from the other. Screw in one of the color identification rings (on the Grip pen) that comes with the Intuos Pro.

Now, your Art Pen and Grip Pen have a difference you can easily see on the fly.

SAVING PREFERENCES / DON’T FORGET

You’ve invested quite a bit of time setting up your keyboard commands in Wacom preferences. You can back up your preferences through the Wacom Utility. You can have different sets of preferences for different applications—one set for Photoshop, another for Corel Painter, and so on.

IMPORTANT: Remember to save your Wacom preferences (settings) with the Wacom Tablet utility. This is especially important when updating the driver. If you have no backup, all your settings will be lost.

Saved preference files won't always work with other versions of the tablet. The tablet driver, the operating system, and the tablet model are specific to how the preferences are saved.

WACOM DESKTOP CENTER

The Wacom Desktop Center (with the latest driver update of 6.3.8-2) now works with the Intuos Pro and the Intuos 5 tablets. This onscreen feature gives you instant control at-a-glance over your preferences, and more.

CONCLUSION

Among creative professionals, the Intuos Pro (medium) is the most popular and versatile pen tablet. Combining Wacom’s finest pen capabilities and multi-touch gestures, this medium-sized pen tablet gives you ample room to design, sketch, paint, retouch, and create with ease. Users also appreciate the medium-size for detail work or for use with multiple monitors.

The Intuos Pro is a full package well worth the price. You get a first-class tablet with excellent supporting software so that you can customize the Intuos Pro to your liking. I’ve been using the Intuos line of tablets over the years with great success and reliability.

Intuos Pro (medium)
$349.00 (Includes Wireless)
Intuos Pro (medium) Special Edition (silver accents)
$379.00 (Includes Wireless)

Wacom Ltd

 

vuescan banner

Scanning Software fills a big niche

9 x32 (9.4.28) Professional Edition

THE SETUP

Recently, I had to scan a few 35mm slides for the first time. I set up my Canoscan 4400F scanner and was ready to go. But, when it came to the scanning process, PhotoStudio, the now out of date bundled software version for scanning slides and film was unusable with Mac OS X Mavericks.

My options were to either upgrade PhotoStudio, buy a new scanner, or come up with an alternative solution.

If you’d like a first-rate scanning utility, or like me feel abandoned by a lack of support for your older scanner hardware, read on.

WHAT IS VUESCAN?

Developed by Ed Hamrick, VueScan is a third-party scanning utility that works with nearly every current scanner on the market, as well as vintage models—feel the love.

VueScan produces excellent scans with color fidelity and color balance. Easy to use in beginner’s mode (guide me), VueScan also supports advanced settings (Professional Edition) for restoring faded colors, batch scanning, and other handy features, such as working with RAW files.

GOOGLE IT / THE SOLUTION

Once users run into the issue of not having the proper software to run their scanner, they often find their VueScan solution via a Google search. VueScan is used by many millions of satisfied users worldwide.

The VueScan utility for digitizing film and prints on flatbed and film scanners supports over 2400 scanners and many digital camera RAW file types, and is available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Since Vuescan also works with both 32-bit and 64-bit machines, you will most likely find support for your scanner.

NOTE: You can check to see whether your scanner is supported here.

INTERFACE

The VueScan interface is spartan-like with a powerful feature set. You choose most of your configurations from within a series of tab folders. Don’t forget to also explore the menu section for additional options. Setting up your first basic scan is simple. More advanced scanning will take a little while to master, but after working with VueScan for a bit of time, you’ll soon grasp how to best use the program.

VueScan version 9 features a larger preview window, allowing you to view your potential scan up close. Adjustments you make are instantly shown here, giving you an accurate preview of what's to come when you hit Scan, ensuring better results more quickly.

EXPORT OPTIONS & MORE

With VueScan, you have many options for fine-tuning your scan. You can, for example, perform color restoration, add sharpening filters, adjust white balance, rotate images, crop, and batch scan multiple images. VueScan offers more format export options than any other scanning software.

The scan provides output to a variety of formats including TIFF, JPEG, and searchable PDF files (you can choose to have all three formats exported simultaneously). The Professional version also outputs to the RAW format and provides many controls for color adjustments, and more.

NOTE: You can do quite a bit of preliminary image editing in VueScan. But, for more precise work, use Photoshop, or another dedicated image editor for post processing. In VueScan’s preferences, you can set the scan to automatically open in an external image editor.

 

eden meets escher

VueScan 35mm color slide scan (Eden meets Escher)

 

VUESCAN FEATURES INCLUDE:

The toolset in VueScan is impressive. Here are a few notable features.

VUESCAN MOBILE FOR IOS AND ANDROID

If you have an iPad, iPhone or Android phone or tablet, you can use VueScan Mobile Free for scanning. This free program works with the built-in camera and most networked HP, Canon, Epson, Brother and Samsung scanners. The paid Mobile version adds additional features such as creating multipage PDFs, using scanners with automatic document feeders, and saving scans to other applications.

THE VUESCAN BIBLE

Good scans are the result of understanding the scanning process, planning, and the scanning software.

VueScan’s online documentation covers basic instructions, but doesn’t fully explore the program’s power. The VueScan Bible by Sacha Steinhoff is the missing manual from Rocky Nook. The author covers in detail initial setup, color management, resolution, scanning, different media types, workflows, and how to optimize your scans working from different media. The book contains color plates, informative charts, and tables.

CONCLUSION

VueScan is a reliable and affordable scanning utility that offers more features than the scanning software that came with your scanner device. VueScan is also an excellent choice for archiving your images, plus the software engine is significantly faster than most other scanning utilities.

And those 35mm slides I had to scan came out looking very good.

Get a trial version of VueScan here.

VueScan comes in two price points: Standard Edition (Free upgrade period one year), $39.95; Professional Edition (free upgrade period unlimited), $79.95.

While the Standard Edition is adequate, the Professional Edition features more tools, is a better value, and you never again get stuck with out of date scanning software.

VueScan

 

 

 

 

 

 

eden at work
Home Page
email me