scanning records

Scanning Techniques Part I: Small Items

Welcome to yet another blog post on the subject of things I am frequently asked about! Today we’ll be working with scanning labels, CD’s and other smaller items (IE, anything that’s not an LP jacket) when adding or updating an item in the database.

The first thing you’ll need, aside from something to scan is something to scan with! I use this all-in-one type printer. For the most part these things are regularly disposed of at thrift stores and are available cheaply due to the volume of people who don’t want to deal with buying new and expensive ink.

Scanning records

Once you have your scanner set up, you’ll need an image editing program such as Photoshop or The Gimp. I’ll be explaining how to use The Gimp as it’s both free and it’s what I use personally (If someone wants to write some instructions/screenshots for Photoshop, I’d be glad to append and give credits). Once you have The Gimp installed and your scanner properly configured, it’s time to start scanning!

For my example, I am going to use 45’s as that’s what I scan the most. I find that most scanners can do two at a time without overlapping them.

Scanning records

Once you’ve placed your 45’s and closed the lid, go to The Gimp and click File, Create then Scanner/Camera…

Scanning records

You’ll get a Select Source popup. Correctly select your scanner here. If your scanner is not on the list, ensure that it is powered on and correctly installed.
Scanning records

At this point, the directions are dependent on the software your scanner manufacturer supplies. I have an HP, so I’ll show you what I do and hopefully you’ll be able to make some parallels. Once the preview is scanned, you’ll be able to select the portion you wish to scan and set options like brightness and color levels. It might take a little experimentation to figure out what works best with your scanner.

Scanning records

Once you finish the scan and you’re back at gimp, it should look something like this:

Scanning records

Use the select tool (Top left tool on the toolbar) to select the label and then hit edit then cut from the menu bar or the keyboard shortcut ctrl+x to remove the image and add it to your clipboard.

Scanning records

From here, you’ll want to either hit File then Create then From Clipboard… or the keyboard shortcut ctrl+shift+v to create a new window for the cut selection. This will make working with the label easier.

Scanning records

Okay! Now rotating the image so that it’s at the right angle. For this, you’ll want to use the rotate tool, pictured here:

Scanning records

Click on the image and start rotating! I like to use the edge of the Rotate dialogue box as a straight edge to ensure it’s not angled weirdly.

From here, to get a clean edge on the label, I use the circle select tool, which is located next to the square select tool that you first used. Use this to create a selection as close to the edge of the label as possible.

Scanning records

At this point, you’ll need to shrink down the label to fit the size restrictions for uploading to discogs. For this you’ll need the Scale Tool as pictured here:

Scanning records

click inside your selection and enter 2000 (or another high number) into width and hit the return key to set it. Make sure the aspect is locked (The chain icon) otherwise your image will be squashed. Discogs will automatically resize your images to 600 pixels wide upon upload, but the larger version will be retained so that better quality images do not need to be re-uploaded if the existing limit is increased.

Scanning records

Upon clicking Scale, you should have your image at the proper size. cut and paste the image into a new window as described earlier and viola, a clean label scan!

Scanning records

To save the image in a format Discogs can use, you’ll need to export it. To do this, Hit File then export or the keyboard shortcut ctrl+shift+e:

Scanning records

After the Export dialogue box pops up choose a filename and place to save your image that works best for you and hit export. I use JPG’s. For quality on JPG I use 90%. 100% is fine too, but may exceed the 4mb limit.

Scanning records

And upload to the release of your choice and you’re done! Join me next time when I explain how to do the complicated process of scanning full LP jackets without a five thousand dollar x-ray scanner! And more importantly, check out the image scanning and editing techniques group.

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  • […] developing this method of photographing my collection after reaching something of a bottleneck for scanning. It simply takes too much time, especially for images of record covers. There are no consumer grade […]

  • Jun 1,2015 at 10:55

    ATTN Brent: can you re-up the images? they all appear to be broken :( this was a very useful guide for new contributors so i like to link it to them when needed :)

  • Apr 25,2013 at 07:09

    Just realised why [u=Diognes_The_Fox]’s subs all look like they’re on white vinyl. Not sure what the point of removing the natural black vinyl colour is?

  • Jan 13,2013 at 03:45

    For labels, I usually scan label art area at 5″x5″@ 300 dpi and resize at 600×600 @ 300 dpi and ‘save as web’ optimized with file size as close to but not over 300k. In other words, I adjust the quality percentage until the file size goes just under 300k (in the high 200k range). The resolution would be so much better and clearer.

  • Jan 11,2013 at 10:37

    I would discourage users removing the background colour. A post by Nik in the forums also advised that once an image is scanned, the users should do as little as possible to alter the captured image.

  • Dec 22,2012 at 06:56

    I have always had problems with photography. Probably mostly because I don’t have a decent camera, light box, tripod.

  • Dec 21,2012 at 14:03

    is there a problem with a crisp photograph anyway? looks better in my opinion and on my equipment… 12″ dont fit well on my scanner and are not 100% sharp then. and i dislike laying the vinyls on a rough and mean scannerbed

  • Dec 20,2012 at 04:21

    Actually you don’t need anything as heavy duty as Photoshop or Gimp. I use Irfanview which is also free and allows direct import from a scanner, easy image cropping, resizing, image rotation and export in a bunch of different formats. Get it here:

  • Dec 19,2012 at 23:26

    Nice work!

  • Dec 19,2012 at 21:41

    It’s also nice practice to scan images in >600dpi, and then resize it to 600×600, 72dpi, better than scan in 72dpi from the scratch

  • Dec 19,2012 at 10:14

    If you’re using a newer version of Photoshop, check out the Automate tools under File. There you have many useful actions like “Crop And Straighten Photos” which magically does a lot of work for you. There is more interesting stuff. Especially if it comes to things that are much bigger then your scanning area.

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