Scanning and stitching 12x12 scrapbook layouts / pages.

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Many people ask how to stitch scans together so they can save digital images of pages larger than the usual 8.5x11" scan. There IS a trick to scanning!!

It can be much easier to take digital pictures, but...they're usually too dark to accurately convey detail or colors. If you DO take digital photos, it helps to lay the pages together in natural sunlight...stand on a chair or something so that you can be directly above the layout and take the photo from above as CLOSE as you can get without cutting an edge from the frame. A white or light-colored sheet or towel for a backdrop will help to reflect light if you use a flash.

For scanning...I lay the first half of the layout on the bed and scan the entire glass...then move the page over again and scan the entire left side of the image. (My filenames are always the same, but followed by successive letters of the alphabet. It helps to keep the filenames in order when I start stitching later.) I use an older version of Jasc's Paint Shop Pro to stitch images. It's less of a memory hog than Adobe's Photoshop and every bit as versatile as most of the higher-end graphics editors. (PSP is also significantly more affordable than most of the competition if you're in the market for something like this.)

If you decide to use Paintshop Pro to stitch images, here are the specific instructions: When you finish scanning, you'll have 4 files. Two will be the left and right sides of one 12x12 page...and the other two will be the left and right sides of the second 12x12 page. If you follow my rule for naming files, they will be respectively named:
left side page 1----fileA.jpg
right side page 1--fileB.jpg
left side page 2----fileC.jpg
right side page 2--fileD.jpg

Open ALL 4 files in PSP by clicking FILE-->OPEN and browsing to the directory where you saved them. (Hold down the CONTROL key to select more than one file at a time with your mouse.) When all 4 files are open in the workspace, click the blue bar across the top of fileA.jpg to make it the active workspace. Click IMAGE-->CANVAS SIZE. To determine the dimensions of the new canvas you'll be creating, you'll need to read the "Current Width" and "Current Height" directly below the fields which can be changed. My files are scanned at 16 million colors, and the height is always 1755 pixels high. I want the width of the new file to match the height in order to make this a perfect square...just like the original 12x12 page. The number of pixels might vary on different scanners/ monitors and depend on your graphics display hardware, but whatever the number reads for the height, you'll want to change the number on the WIDTH to match the HEIGHT. SO...New Width=1755 and New Height=1755 (for the purpose of this example, anyway!) In the IMAGE PLACEMENT field directly below on the same menu---
BOTTOM= -1037
(You might have to play with these numbers, depending on your screen/hardware/display settings. The top and left settings will NOT change because you want your image to be LEFT justified with no vacant space remaining at the top and left.) Click OK.

Your "A" image will convert to a square, with the scanned image on the left and new blank space on the right to accommodate the currently missing right side of the page. on the blue bar at the top of fileB.jpg to make it the active workspace, then click on the lasso tool. (This is the rectangular icon with the dotted line next to the one that actually looks like a lasso. If you cannot see the icon, click VIEW and TOOLBARS, then put a checkmark in the box next to TOOL PALETTE.)

Here's the trick!! Instead of selecting the entire image, begin at the top of the image but NOT at the left edge. Select the right two thirds of the image by dragging your cursor across the image. The reason there are no scan lines on my pictures is because I don't select the whole image. On every scanner, light leaks in from the edges, causing a discoloration or dark "bar" along the sides of the image. Because you've scanned and saved the entire image, you don't need to select the whole picture anyway...just enough of the picture to fit the blank space on your resized canvas. Once you have the right two thirds of the picture selected, it'll be wearing a dotted lasso line. Click EDIT--->COPY and then click on file A to make it the active image again. Click EDIT-->PASTE--->AS NEW SELECTION, and then line up the edges of the two scans until they match. If your image is slightly angled, you can click IMAGE--->ROTATE while it's still selected with the dotted lasso line, and rotate the selected area in increments until it matches vertically. (The rotate tool works with decimal increments if you don't want to rotate a full percent. For example, if rotating LEFT a full percent is too far, try rotating left or right by point 5 percent instead....or .2%, .01 etc.) When the two edges the file. I resize my scans by 40% before saving them for the final time. (IMAGE-->RESIZE ...make sure that "Maintain Aspect Ratio" and "Resize all layers" are both checked. I resize by PERCENTAGE of ORIGINAL (the middle option) rather than by "print size" or "pixel size" and crop the image one more time to trim away excess dark edges along the top and bottom.) Repeat the entire process again using fileC.jpg as the next base canvas. Remember to save your files! When you're ready to stitch both 12x12 pages together again...FIRST, Save your image! Once more, you click IMAGE--->CANVAS SIZE... and by reading the Current Width and Current Height displayed below the fields where you can change the dimensions, you can determine how large you need to make the canvas in order to accommodate a second page the same size. For example...if the current width is now 698 and the height is 695, (remember, we resized these)....You'll want to DOUBLE the width, leaving the Height the same. Therefore...the new dimensions to accommodate stitching BOTH pages together to create a 12x12 2-page layout on screen would now be [698x2=] 1396, while the height would still be the current 695 pixels.

If you click okay and end up with what looks like a 2-page layout missing the second're almost done! Once the blue bar across the top of the second page scan [fileC.jpg] to make it active...then click EDIT--COPY. Click again on the blue bar on top of fileA.jpg to make it active again...and click EDIT--->PASTE---> AS NEW SELECTION. Voila...2 pages scanned together as a complete layout.

This SEEMS like a lot of trouble and effort, but once you have the steps's actually pretty quick. If you follow these instructions (keep this message loaded so you can refer back and forth between PSP and your email) ...PSP also helps by remembering the last entry you used each time you launch the same tool. (For example, if you resize one image at 40%, it'll remember this value when you go to resize the next image. And if all of your scans are resized to a canvas height and width of 1755x1755 pixels, it remembers these values as well.)

If you're awake down here and all this typing was helpful...please pay it forward! I didn't have a clue how to do this when I first began scrapbooking and it's still one of the most common questions that we receive. If all the specific detail reads like a foreign language, I highly recommend searching for more detailed or specific instructions pertinent to your particular graphics editor online. There are many great resources for this type of information online. Good luck scanning!!

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