Digitizing Collections

Since an image is the best description of any issue, we want to talk about the best practices related to digitizing content with both scanning and photography.


We prefer to use scanning whenever possible to provide a clear and regular presentation of the issue in question. Photography creates numerous issues with lighting, sensor grain, angle of incidence to the item, and background. Very few people are setup to do this in a manner which provides consistent photographs of issues.

To that end, we scan issues at 600-1200 dpi (depending on size), allowing us to create a final image of the issue at 3200 pixels wide. This enables clean printing of PDFs and thread detail that can help with identifying reorders, issue variations, and more.

We do have scanners that we can lend out if needed. Please contact us to see what we can do for you.


When an issue either has too much vertical relief or simply does not scan well (e.g. metal flaps), we move towards a soft-box photography solution. This is a table-top setup that can be used with almost any camera (including cell phone cameras).


We will be detailing a proper photography lightbox setup here in the future.

Post-processing in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the best image editing program available today. We're using some of the basic elements, which could be replicated in other programs as well (such as GIMP, Pixelmator, Adobe Lightroom, etc).

We are focused on a few key things:

  • Ensure the color balance/contrast is right
  • Knock out the background/surround with a feathered edge
  • Process this into a predefined size for the application (which will make all smaller sizes for the product)

Photoshop Templates

There are three templates that we use for most work:

  • Regular Flap (###_Flap_Maker.psd)
  • Tall Flap (###_Tall_Flap_Maker.psd)
  • Square/X/J/R/C issues (###_Square_Maker.psd)

The flap maker has guides on the left and the right, and a double guide up top. The double guide is effectively where the top rolled edge (for newer flaps) or the top of the flap should sit. The flap or patch image should not extend outside the horizontal guides. If a flap is too tall for the Regular flap maker (2:1 ratio) try the Tall flap (4:3 ratio). With the tall flap, we tend to crop the image down to create the same amount of space on the bottom as there is on the top.

For on-angle or detail shots, ensuring the color is as close to reality is the main thing you need to do in post processing.

Download the PSD templates as a Zip file here.

Saving Images for Official Use

The numbering convention is to put the combined ID (e.g."333B") at the begining of the PSD filename for easy browsing. Likewise, each image saved out should be in the format:


So we start with Combined ID, then issue combined ID, and then the front or back or other name (detail, fdl, error) that designates what the photo shows.

At this point, your images are ready to add to the issue in the system. If you're an editor, you can choose to use these for the official images. If you're not, you can add them to any issue. If you're doing the work on a series of issues that don't yet have high-res, knocked out images, please reach out to us and let us know. We can give you access as an editor for that Lodge, Council, etc. in order to put the high quality images directly on the issues.