Solutions for Flat Artwork

Art Reproduction and other forms of flat artwork digitization is especially demanding. The range of materials is large: everything from paintings, sketches, and manuscripts to letters, musical scores, and postcards. This requires a solution that delivers conservation handling, preservation image quality, production speed, and extensive flexibility. DTDCH has several systems that meet these demands and are ideal for digitizing flat artwork.

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection. 

Conservation Handling

Priceless flat artwork requires careful handling to ensure the process of digitization does not degrade their condition. This is especially important for drawings made with delicate media, paintings already in degraded condition, and items of priceless value. Each of our systems provides a range of handling options to put the operator in control of the material, ensuring their safety.

Copy Stand vs Easels
Laying fine art such as a painting on a copy stand provides a rapid and simple way to ensure planarity to the camera, even focus, and controlled repeatable lighting. The DT RGC180 (with hard top in place) and DT RG3040 provide an excellent matte black working surface for a variety of flat artwork sized 30” x 40” or less.

There are circumstances where it is beneficial to capture flat artwork vertically. For these situations there are wall mounted and free standing easels and easel type devices that can hold artwork in place during digitization. These options include vacuum boards, magnetic boards, and systems that use positionable clamps or clips to hold the artwork in place.  When using such devices we recommend that a DT RCam or Phase One XF camera body is placed on a tripod. For added versatility, the camera can be rotated 90° within the copy stand mount on the DT RG3040 or DT RGC180 so the vertical movement of the column can be used for stitching.

The Morgan Library & Museum. RvR 53. Photography by Graham S. Haber

Preservation Quality

DTDCH solutions exceed FADGI 4-Star and Metamorfoze-Strict standards. We use Schneider large format digitar lenses and vibration free electronic shutters, along with Phase One medium format digital backs with up to 80mp sensors producing scans up to 480mb. This results in true Preservation Digital Objects with accurate color, tone, and detail. Many companies claim their equipment attains FADGI 4-star quality, but very few do. Color is often especially important when it comes to fine art reproduction. Capture One Cultural Heritage Edition 8 comes with a set of diligently measured, created, and validated ICC color profiles for each DTDCH [camera:lighting] configuration. We also support the use of third party profiles created by software such as BasICColor or Profile Maker. In addition, Capture One CH 8 provides a tool called Color Editor that allows customization of the color profile within Capture One so that the resulting edits can be batch applied, thereby saving time on post-production as no more fine-tuning each image in Photoshop is required. Resolution is also very important to the accurate reproduction of fine art. Using XY stitching we can provide any resolution for any size material. For oversized artwork this is invaluable for creating immersive Preservation Digital Objects or high quality reproductions. For instance, an easy four-position stitch provides a 50” x 70” file at 240ppi. Leveraging the raw processing in Capture One Cultural Heritage Edition 8 software, and its class-leading debayering algorithm DTDCH solutions extract pixel level detail and color accuracy previously only seen in cumbersome multi-shot systems.

Production Speed

In some flat art reproduction applications the speed of capture is not critical. For example, when digitizing large paintings on canvases the time to handle the artwork will greatly exceed the capture time. In other types of flat art reproduction such as a large collection of sketches on paper production speed is critical – both during capture and post-processing. DTDCH solutions are able to deliver unsurpassed speed in both categories.

Capture Stage
Our systems capture nearly instantly (e.g. 1/60th sec) and display almost immediately. Therefore the capture rate is limited only by the condition of the material and how quickly it can be handled. When capturing a large collection of sketches on paper, for instance, it is reasonable to expect capture rates of over 1000 items per hour.

Using the Multi Crop tool in Capture One CH 8 can increase productivity even further. A project to digitize a large collection of hand drawn postcards in good physical condition could capture multiple cards per frame, increasing capture rates to over 3000 items per hour.

Post-Processing Stage
Most digitization software looks like it was developed in the 1990s, because most of it was. Capture One Cultural Heritage Edition is a modern solution built on the venerable and widely used Capture One software. It supports all modern operating systems, is frequently updated, and can handle massive numbers of files with ease. Checking focus, zooming in on high resolution images, and scrolling through pages for quality control is lightning fast.

Capture One CH 8 is ideal for art reproduction and features tools such as Autocrop and AutoDeskew, Multi Crop, LAB Support, Resolution Ruler, Batch Processing, as well as Raw-Stage Quality Control. These tools enable the automation of tedious post-production tasks that are inherent to the post-processing stage of art reproduction. The included Cultural Heritage ICC color profiles also greatly cut down post-processing time by providing excellent color accuracy without the need for time consuming and error prone in-situ profiling. The included Color Editor provides rapid fine tuning of color as needed at the raw stage.

The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Graham S. Haber

Extensive Flexibility

The encyclopedic collections of cultural heritage institutions are rarely homogenous. Our systems are versatile, interoperable, and modularly upgradeable to ensure you’re not stuck with a limited tool box. They are also flexible in their use, allowing techniques that are impossible on competing systems.

Interoperable and Modularly Upgradable
Our solutions for digitizing flat art comprise a reprographic system (such as the DT RG3040, or DT RGC180), a capture head (such as the DT RCam), and lighting. Each of these components can be purchased and upgraded separately. For instance, an institution that purchased a [DT RG3040 & DT RCam] for flat art reproduction would only need to add the DT Film Scanning Kit to scan an encyclopedic transmissive collection. Likewise, an institution that purchases a [DT RGC180 & DT Rcam] for book scanning already has everything they need to begin scanning flat art.

Creative Lighting
Many historical collections include oversized bound material that are too large for most book scanners. The DT BC100 glass platen supports scanning pages up to 17” x 24“ with bindings up to 4”. The DT RGC180 can capture facing pages of up to 17” x 25” in the cradle, or individual pages up to 30”x40” using the included hard top. The RG3040 can accommodate facing pages of up to 14” x 10” using the optional book cradle or individual pages up to 30”x40” using the hard top. For increased versatility the DT RGC180 and DT RG3040 can accommodate massive bound materials of up to 54” x 70” pages in a single capture, or even larger by stitching by remounting the camera on the column to face backward.

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection. 

DT RGC180 Capture Cradle

The DT RGC180 is a multi-role copy stand that allows the digitization of many different types of material sizes. From books (using the glass top platen), film (partnered with DT FSK), loose manuscripts and flat art.  The DT RGC180 is a fast and versatile digitizing machine that is a great compliment to any institutions preservation needs.

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DT RG3040 Reprographic System

Legacy copy stands were designed to meet the relatively loose precision required for film capture. The DT RG3040 Reprographic System was built from the ground up for the era of digital capture.

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