A frequently asked question in the various networking forums at BeautyTech is how to use a scanner to get your nail art into digital format for Web use. Becky (bekktek@kcweb.net) of Oak Grove, Ill., started a trend about a year ago when she ran out of film and had a brilliant idea. The concept is simple: place the hand or nail tip face down on the scanner bed and scan. But the reality is a little more complex. First off, it is very useful to have a helper with you to push the buttons and click the mouse, unless of course you’re a contortionist! Some props are also needed to accomplish the deed. You’ll need fabric m medium-to-dark colors — solids and subtle prints work best. After placing the hand on the scanner bed, drape the fabric over the hand, tucking it close to, but not under the edges of the hand and fingers. Experiment with various colors and patterns of fabrics (you can use clothing, towels, etc.) until you produce your desired effect.

The basic reason you need to use a cover of some sort is to block exterior light from around the scanned object so that the scanner will see the colors you want without being subjected to excessive angled lights. If you are scanning directly from a human hand, the fingers and nail tips should be hovering just a tiny bit off the scanner bed glass, so make sure your victim has steady hands! The rest of the hand and arm can rest on the glass. Remember, any movement while the scanner is doing its thing will result in a blurry shot. Using a fabric cover also allows you to leave the scanner cover open, which is more comfortable for your model.

Always clean your scanner glass with a very soft cloth that has been sprayed with glass cleaner before the final round of scans. Touching the scanner glass will leave body oils and blur your shot. Never spray glass cleaners directly on the scanner glass. Since scanning works like a huge zoom lens, you will be amazed at what you’ll see in the finished product. You may not be able to see that hangnail with the naked eye, but you’ll see it on the scan — not to mention dry cuticles, messy polish jobs, etc. A light application of cuticle oil should be used before the scan.

If you are scanning directly from tips, use double-sided tape or a small ball of putty to hold the nails in place while you scan. You can either close the cover of the scanner when using tips or use your fabric to cover them for a different effect.

Scanner settings are very important. Even though all pictures viewed on the web are seen at 72 dpi (dots per inch), I always scan at 300 dpi for greater clarity. This result is a rather large image, so if your scanner has a reduction setting choose between 30% and 50%. After the scan is done, use your image editing software to crop, resize, add borders, and generally clean up the image.

Check out some examples done especially for this article at www.beautytech.com/nailtech/scans.htm. You’ll find some additional explanation of what you see and how the scans were done. You also will find links to other scanned nails here.

I will be happy to add your scanning efforts to the Photo Gallery area at BeautyTech. Simply e-mail me the link to your images atdebbied@bobit.com.

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