How to Scan an LP Record Cover

By Brent Watkins ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Flatbed scanner
  • Photo restoration and enhancement software

In an age where technology has continued to miniaturize media, the old vinyl LP album represents a bygone era when cover art communicated much about the product. Measuring just over 12 inches square, this medium was large enough for the packaging to be appreciated on its own merit. Use this guide to scan and restore LP record album covers.

Scan the album cover in segments. A 12 by 12 inch square piece of cardboard will not fit on a traditional flatbed scanner designed to scan 8 1/2 by 11 documents. Use the ridged border of the scanner to keep the cover square as you scan “slices” of the image. Up to four scans may be required to capture the entire album.

Open the individual image scans in software designed for photo enhancement and restoration. Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter are among the most popular software titles that will provide the restoration tools needed.

Create a master file canvas sized to the original album cover. The image size should be 12.375 by 12.375 inches square.

Select the usable region from each scanned image and copy the image into the master file.

Orient the image regions copied into the master file so they overlap to form a mosaic of the entire image.

Adjust the individual layers by rotating them as needed so each layer segment is perfectly square with one another.

Zoom into the exact point where each image meets. Use blending tools supplied by the software to conceal image borders. The Airbrush and Photoshop Clone Stamp tools are particularly effective at masking edges while maintaining image continuity.

Merge the individual layers into a single final image layer when all adjustments have been made to accurately recreate the album cover.

Tip

Be sure to press down firmly during the scan to increase the usable scan area. Many low cost scanners have a considerable ridge bordering the glass scan surface that will cause the stiff cardboard material from the album cover to lift off the surface near the edges. Edges not in contact with the scan surface will be out of focus. Mask dust and blemishes from the original album cover using the software’s restoration filters. Photoshop includes a “Dust & Scratches” filter specifically for this purpose. Apply filters after the layers are merged.

Warning

Although the albums may be years old, copyright law still protects the use of their cover art. Scanning album covers should only be for your personal use and the images should not be posted online or shared with others.

About the Author

Brent Watkins works as a writer, producer and production technologist for film and television. He began writing for "Church & Worship Technology" magazine in 2002. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Watkins is passionate about digital media and emerging production technologies. A graduate of the University of Iowa, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and theatrical arts.