Scanning pencil crayon drawings


I know I’ve been quiet on here lately, but that’s not because I’m not drawing.

In fact I’ve been drawing quite a bit, between a weekly life drawing class, comic stuff, and even a visit to the museum to sketch with my daughter. I just haven’t managed to blog about it.

I’ve nearly finished my latest comic, which I’m hoping to have ready for sale at the Lakes and Thought Bubble festivals. (By the way, you can see all the other wonderful comics people we’ll be sharing a hall with at Thought Bubble, here.)

While I normally do my comics in inks or watercolour, for some reason I blithely drew this one in pencil crayons, without a moment’s thought about how well it would scan in and print out. That may have been a little foolish, especially given that scanning is always my nemesis.

It turns out that pencil crayons scan horribly. You get all the harsh contrasts and none of the subtleties.

Fortunately, though, after some Googling, I have a couple of plans up my sleeve. First – I might just photograph the images. It turns out that the camera on my phone is pretty good – the resulting pictures certainly look better than the scans.

For example, compare this photo:

wild dogs drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - photo

With the scanned version:

wild dogs drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - scanned showing errors


Other images are slightly less alarming, but you can certainly see a difference:

rats drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - photo

Above, photo; below, scan:


Second, I read that covering the images with transparent cellophane or acetate can help deflect the light. If the photos don’t work out, I’ll try that.

I’ll let you all know when I’ve finally beaten the reproduction issues into submission and these comics are ready – and of course, any that don’t sell at the comics fairs will be available via my online shop.

Meanwhile, if you’re curious to see some more of the work in progress, you can visit my Instagram account. You might have to pick through pictures of my cats and various flea market finds, but there are plenty of drawings too, promise.


Published by Myfanwy Tristram

I am an illustrator, situated in Brighton on the south coast of England, and with a special interest in comics and graphic memoir. I also work for a non-profit which encourages people to be active in democracy and to exercise rights such as the right to information through FOIA.

5 thoughts on “Scanning pencil crayon drawings

    1. Yes, I’m sure there are infinite possibilities here! I have two scanners: one’s an HP (A4) and one’s a Plustek (A3). I find that both are ok, but not brilliant, and the quality depends a lot on the original too. With the Plustek, you can set the calibration by scanning a piece of white paper, but I feel like it’s never been 100% right.

      Meanwhile the camera is just the one on my iPhone, which is a 5s.

  1. Thanks for the tip on acetate. I am going to try that because I agree with you it is so hard to scan them in without loosing detail. I even went to a local scan shop and my artwork turned out horrible scanned. Oddly enough he also printed a copy of the same artwork and the result was much better. I am wondering if I use matte spray fixative if it will cause less flashback then if I used gloss fixative. It’s the little things that make a difference, eh.

    1. Good luck – I haven’t tried the acetate myself. In the end I went with photographing, so I’d be interested to hear how you get on.

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