The best flatbed scanners for artwork & artists of 2020

These are 3 great scanners for artwork, illustrations, any kind of drawings and fine art that requires a lot of color depth and high resolution scanning. These scanners will bring out the most they possibly can from your artwork into digital form

Here are our 3 favorite scanners for artwork:
The best flatbed scanners for artwork & artists of 2020
ProductFormatOptical ResolutionConnectivityColor DepthPrice
Our choice

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA
A32400 dpiHi-Speed USB 2.048-bit Color or 16-bit GrayscaleClick for more info

Epson Perfection V800

Epson Perfection V800
A46400 x 9600 dpiHi-Speed USB 2.048-bit ColorClick for more info

Epson Perfection V600

Epson Perfection V600
A46400 dpiHi-Speed USB 2.048-bit Color or 16-bit GrayscaleClick for more info


Let’s have a look at each product in particular.

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA

ProductFormatOptical ResolutionConnectivityColor DepthPrice

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA
A32400 dpiHi-Speed USB 2.048-bit Color or 16-bit GrayscaleClick for more info
The Epson Expression 12000XL-GA flatbed scanner is considered one of the best flatbed scanners for artwork and artists. First of all, it is the size that makes it a great fit for scanning fine art and drawings. The scanner can scan up to 12 x 17 inches (approx. tabloid format). Given that there is a lot of artwork being created that is bigger than A4, this scanner will make the difference just by being able to scan it. The optical resolution on this artwork scanner is 2400 dpi and the hardware resolution is 2400 x 4800 dpi.

This A3 scanner connects to your computer via HiSpeed USB 2.0 and it has TWAIN drivers, so more or less any scanning app will be compatible. You can import the scanned drawings into Adobe Illustrator through the TWAIN interface. It has an optical density of 3.8 Dmax. This is a high value, but it’s worth noting that the V800 and V850 can reach 4.0 Dmax. Dmax is the value that helps to determine how deep the blacks can be on a film. The more Dmax, the deeper the blacks. This device uses a ReadyScan LED lamp with no warm-up time and a MatrixCCD sensor (CCD stands for Charge-Coupled device).

This flatbed artwork scanner comes with the Silverfast AI software that is much more advanced than the basic Epson Easy Photo Fix. It can create HDR digital images with a 48-bit color depth. It can sharpen images by applying an unsharp mask, has a better dust and scratch removal technology and a special Nega Fix feature for more precise negative to positive conversion as this scanner can also digitize film negatives. Using ACR it will turn faded colors from your illustrations into bright and vivid colors while keeping color accuracy because the scanner comes with 2 calibration charts for the i1 X-rite.

If you need to scan A3 acrylic prints, canvas prints, acrylic paintings, art prints or any art pieces then this scanner is a good choice but the price is quite high. Epson also makes the Epson DS-50000 large format document scanner which is much cheaper and lacks some of the fancy features of the Expression and has a lower scan quality.

For 35mm film photographers, it offers an option to eliminate film grain and noise. Whether you want to use that is up to you as photographers can be very selective with this option, sometimes the grain is the reason that they shoot on film in the first place. The software can also address the Moire effect . If you are not familiar with this, surely you have seen it before, it’s similar to having a screen door in front of the image. It’s a problem that you can sometimes solve through changing the resolution but not always.

The software shipped with this graphic arts scanner also allows for batching jobs so that you can automate the same filters and adjustments to multiple scanned images without going through the process again each time. If you are in a hurry and don’t have the time for Photoshop-like enhancements, you can just use the basic Easy Photo Fix software that will adjust everything with one touch.

As far as accessories go, you get two of each type of film holders: Two for 35mm strips, two for 35 mm slides, two for medium format film and two for 4 x 5 inch frames. You can also scan reflective documents if you install the transparency unit. The scanner was built to last for 100,000 scans.

Epson Perfection V800

ProductFormatOptical ResolutionConnectivityColor DepthPrice

Epson Perfection V800

Epson Perfection V800
A46400 x 9600 dpiHi-Speed USB 2.048-bit ColorClick for more info
The Epson V800 is the second Flatbed Scanner for Artwork we will be looking at. The first big difference is that the V800 cannot scan drawings larger than A4, so that might be a deal-breaker in some situations. But it does compensate with other interesting specs. For example, the image resolution offered by the CCD sensor is 6400 Dots Per Inch without any interpolation, far higher than the Epson Expression can. So if pixel density matters more than paper size and being able to scan A3 creations, you might want to take a closer look at this one.

The resolution is so high, that not even the best prints companies that run printers for graphic designers and printers for art prints and artists at maximum resolution cannot match it pixel for pixel. At this point it is worth pointing out that none of these 3 flatbed scanners have a CIS (Contact Image Sensor). Those are usually used in cheaper models like the V19.

Another difference is that this A4 scanner can achieve 4.0 Dmax so you should be able to capture deeper blacks which will significantly improve the image quality. You connect it to your Windows or Mac with the same type of USB 2.0 port. This Epson V800 can scan at an RGB color depth of 48-bit when you scan in color and 16-bit when you scan in grayscale. It also has a halftone mode (Pure black & White).

This flatbed scanner also has the same type of film holders, for 35mm strips, 35mm slides, medium format and 4 by 5 inchs. All the films are scanned in full 6400 dpi.

The software is almost as advanced as the one on the Expression: Epson Scan, LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast SE software. For a comparison chart of the differences have a look at the chart on the SilverFast website. The digital images can be saved in JPEG, TIFF, Multi-page TIFF, PCT, Bitmap and PDF format. It is not a slim scanner and nor was it designed to be one because these kinds of professional scanners make no design compromise and try to bundle in as much optics and technology as they can.

You can scan materials larger than A4 with this scanner by scanning parts of them and then using a stitch software but we only recommend doing this occasionally as the results are never like they are on a dedicated A3 scanner and you’re almost always going to have distorted lines in your artwork.

If you want an upgraded version of this, then the Epson Perfection v850 pro is a better choice with 2 sets of film holders, better Silverfast software, I1 calibration targets for more accurate coloring included and a better dual lens system.

Epson Perfection V600

ProductFormatOptical ResolutionConnectivityColor DepthPrice

Epson Perfection V600

Epson Perfection V600
A46400 dpiHi-Speed USB 2.048-bit Color or 16-bit GrayscaleClick for more info
The Epson Perfection V600 color photo image scanner is the flatbed scanner for artwork that gives you the most value for money. The price is 4-6 times lower than its two competitors here. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get really good features. You get the same pixels per inch as you get on the V800, an optical resolution of 6400 DPI. The paper format is the same, A4. This device is also a film and negative scanner and it is capable of scanning film negatives with 2 types of film holders included.

The software included in the package with the Epson perfection v600 color image scanner is: Epson Easy Photo Fix, Epson Copy Utility, ArcSoft PhotoStudio, ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus OCR. The ABBYY software has the best optical character recognition engine according to the tests that we have done in our digitization lab with the highest text recognition accuracy. It can convert your high-quality pictures into Searchable PDFs, Word documents, XLS files and even ePub files. The software on the Epson is compatible with both operating systems, Windows 10 and Mac OS. It also offers some basic Digital ICE features like scratch and dust removal and also helps to sync with Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and also Evernote.

Scan speed starts from 6 seconds for a 300 dpi photo. The scanning time dramatically increases once you go higher than 300 dpi with this photo and document scanner. If you are an art student and you want to digitize and post your art online, this is the best scanner for artwork in terms of getting great value for money without a large investment. It has four buttons on the front for auto scan and customizable functions but it doesn’t have a removable lid so you can scan different portions of a larger document and then stitch them together.

You can also get the Epson V550 which is a great flatbed scanner for color photos, images and film. It has the same 6400 dpi resolution, the same image editing software, fast scanning speed of 6 seconds per scan and also film scanner features. The difference is that you can’t apply Digital ICE features to photos and images, just to film negatives whereas with the V600 you can apply them to everything and also, with the V600 you get a license for Adobe Photoshop Elements, although that can vary from region to region apparently. Check the latest prices on Amazon to find out the current price difference.

If you need to go even cheaper, the Epson V39 is an A4-format scanner that costs under 100 dollars, doesn’t scan image film negatives and slides so it can only handle photos and documents. It still has the Epson Photo Editing software and something that the other scanners do not, because it uses the Document Capture Pro app it can scan to cloud services like Google Drive or Evernote.


What is the best flatbed scanner for artwork?


The Epson Expression has the best of all. It has resolution, size and advanced software. If you want to create an online art gallery of your graphics, photography or sketches then we recommend this. It would be a pity if you had tabloid sized graphics that you cannot digitize.

If you are sure that when scanning artwork, you won’t go past A4, then the V800 is the best choice as the scanner for your artwork because it also has higher resolution and the software is not that much different.

If you want the best value for money, then the V600 and V550 are the scanners for artists that you will bring you the best value for money. All of these 3 scanners will do justice to artists and illustrators, but it’s important to figure out beforehand what you will use it for.

Scanners which are missing from the artwork list: canon canoscan 9000f mkii and Epson Perfection V370 which are not manufactured anymore, canon canoscan lide 220 which was replaced by the Canon Lide 400, plustek a3 flatbed scanner os 1180 (the Plustek OS is made by the same Plustek company that makes the Opticbook flatbed book scanners), the Epson perfection v39 which is more for scanning documents than graphic arts.

You can also take a different approach to the issue without using the classic style document scanners: Use a fujitsu scansnap sv600 overhead camera. That will scan the artwork without touching it, but the quality is disastrous compared to a dedicated flatbed scanner for art prints like the Epson Expression graphic arts photo scanner. Or if you like to draw sketches and you are always on-the-go then you can go for portable scanners, but be aware that they were not built for art level quality scanning.
Our Score

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