Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Inexpensive Large Format (11" x 17") Scanners for scanning Animation Drawings

If you've ever priced a large format (11" x 17" tabloid size) scanner you know that they are generally very expensive (starting at $1,200 for basic 11" x 17" flatbed scanner , ranging up to $4,000 to $8,000 for an industrial strength Auto-Document Feed 11" x 17" scanner) .

EPSON now has a series of large format (11 x 17) scanners in a comparable price range as the Brother 11x17 Scanners.   The advantage of Epson scanners in my experience is that the EpsonScan scanner interface in Professional Mode  is much better than the default Brother scanner interface.

Epson Workforce WF-7510 Scanner (discontinued)  Epson Workforce WF-7610 or WF-7620 Scanner

(currently the WF-7610 is around $150.00 on ,  the WF-7620 is around  $230.00 on )

EpsonScan Professional scanner interface:


 Another good scanner is the Brother MFC-J6920DW .  Same general price range as the earlier Brother MFC 6490-CW.   Relatively low-priced for an 11" x 17" scanner.  The others in this series are  Brother MFC-J6520DW  and Brother MFC-J6720DW .

These run from about  $169 - to - $229  on  depending on the model .

I haven't used this particular model Brother scanner , but it's functions are similar to the older MFC 6490-CW scanner which I have.   For traditional hand-drawn animation our interest in these scanners is that they are relatively inexpensive scanners that can handle full-size 12 Field animation paper.  (and also  cut-down 16 Field paper .   Standard 16 Field paper is 16.5" x 13.5" , which won't quite fit in the auto-document feeder which takes paper up to 17" x 11" .    But , for example if you use HD 16:9 aspect ratio your 16 field scannable area will be within an area approx. 16" x 9.75" , so 16 field paper that has had the top lopped-off so it is cut down to 16.5" x 11" size will run through the Brother's auto-document feeder or fit on the flatbed.)

 (for  those of you using the Brother scanners I suggest ditching the default Brother scanner interface and using VueScan as you scanner interface)


I own and use the older model  Brother MFC-6490 CW scanner --- which retails for about $299.00 (although I've seen it for as low as $199.00 - to -$219.00 after a mail-in rebate) is also good .
The newer Brother MFC-JDW series of 11 x 17 scanners replace this one.

As you know if you've priced out an 11 x 17 scanner, until now this was really unheard of to find such an inexpensive 11 x 17 size scanner which can handle full-sized 12 Field animation paper fed through an Auto-Document Feeder (ADF) for very fast scanning .

Combined with an Auto Peg Hole Recognition system in software such as TVP Animation, Digicel Flipbook, or ToonBoom Animate PRO/Toonboom Harmony , this new Brother MFC-6490 CW scanner is a great tool for independent animators or students.  In my experience TVP Animation's Peg Hole Registration is the easiest to use and the most accurate.   The Brother MFC-6490 CW scanner is aimed at the small business and home-office user, so I doubt that it is necessarily built to hold up for a long time under heavy-duty feature film or tv production use, but for the student or the independent animator on a tight budget this product at least puts an 11" x 17" scanner within an affordable price range. At this price you could actually replace it several times over if it broke down before it would cost you as much as the usual 11 x 17 ADF scanners from Epson, Fujitsu, Ricoh, Canon, etc.

Animation student Dan Caylor first alerted me to the existence of this relatively low-cost 11" x 17" scanner. Here is Dan's review of the scanner on his site:

Dan is using it with Digicel Flipbook, but this auto-document feed scanner should work with any animation software that has Auto Peg Hole Alignment (such as TVP Animation.) I've personally tested it with TVP Animation and it works fine. If you're looking for a relatively low-cost 11" x 17" ADF scanner for your animation drawings then you might want to consider it.


A good overview of setting up the Brother Scanner for a production system of scanning animation drawings is in this 8-Part Tutorial by Nate Foster.  Nate is using ToonBoom Animate Pro  (ToonBoom's  "Optical Registration" peg reg. system is notoriously finicky) .  If you use TVPaint then you'll find TVPaint's Peg Hole Registration system a lot simpler to use.



noah cordova said...

I have the epson (7520) printer it would be wise to spend the extra money (maybe 10$) for the extra tray. If you get the extra tray you can print 8.5x11 and also have 11x17 on stand by. I like it very much and the scanner is why I bought it, but large format printing really becomes a standard after you get one like this. :D

Unknown said...

I was looking for this kind of scanner from the long time for my studies that would help me get the right output of my work. Finally got the exact what I want. Thanks for sharing....Heena Bansal

Sharon Clarkson said...

Thanks for Sharing this wonderful information. It was very helpful.

Sharon Clarkson said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with us. It was very helpful.

Unknown said...

I just purchased the Epson 7620 and so far I love it. It is nice to have a large scanner and can print some of my larger art pieces.

Unknown said...

thanks very helpful, appreciated

Twisted Blue said...

i was wondering if you know if toonboom harmonys Auto Peg Hole Alignment has been working better. also if it is any easier to scan in line drawings like tvpaint?

Unknown said...

You are a life saver, thank you very much!

David said...

Twisted Blue asked: "I was wondering if you know if toonboom harmonys Auto Peg Hole Alignment has been working better. also if it is any easier to scan in line drawings like TVPaint?"

Hi, Twisted Blue ,

I don't know if Toonboom Harmony Optical Registration (auto peg hole alignment) is working any better now , because I haven't tried using it in quite some time . I am very happy with TVPaint , so that is what I use. Scanning line drawings and importing them in to TVPaint is very easy , and based on my previous experience it is easier to scan , import, and register the drawings in TVPaint than in Toonboom, but honestly I haven't tried it on the newer version of Toonboom (Harmony 12) , so maybe it has improved (?) .

Kevin said...

Great info, but Amazon has the Epson 7510 at over $400 now. However the new model is much cheaper, just wondering if it has the same perks as the 7510? Thanks.

David said...

Hi, Kevin -

Yes, the newer model Epson 7610 or 7620 is just as good as the older model 7510.

Kevin said...

Thanks David, just didn't want to make the purchase and regret it. Also, does anyone prefer the Brother models over the Epson for any reason?

David said...

Not that I know of ... the both are about the same . I have a Brother scanner , but if I had it to do over again I'd get the Epson . (when I purchased my Brother scanner Epson didn't offer an 11 x 17 scanner).

Unknown said...

Great article, does anyone use these scanners for artwork? that is my need and flat beds are so much more expensive to purchase.

David said...

D Roberts asks: "does anyone use these scanners for artwork? that is my need and flat beds are so much more expensive to purchase."

Yes, these scanners are fine for scanning artwork, but in the context of my post I'm talking about scanning animation LINE DRAWINGS .

For very finely detailed COLOR scanning for artwork such as paintings that requires the highest fidelity to the subtle colors of the original artwork you would ideally use one of the higher-end graphic arts flatbed scanners (such as the Epson Expression line of 11 x 17 scanners: Epson Expression 10000XL , Epson Expression 11000X Epson Expression 12000XL ... those are expensive) .