For my purposes, I think that a good scanner plus a vector graphics program is just as good as a drawing tablet, if not a better deal for the money, because I can use a tracing algorithm in Illustrator or Inkscape (like potrace) to convert a pen drawing into vectors, and thence back into rasters. To that end, I'm sort of basing this on this question.

But I also want to define what I mean by 'good.' Good in this case means something like the iPod Nano 1g. I don't buy Apple products in general, but this one works well with Linux (hence any other OS), has really high quality parts (has survived sub-zero temperatures, being dropped multiple times, being left on all the time, etc.), and still does what it's supposed to do after having logged thousands of miles of travels around the world.

A scanner with those qualities would either be a good thing to buy used or a good investment if bought new, but I wouldn't be able to spend more than £100 or €100.

2 Answers 2


I am not sure if I understand what is exactly asked... ;) But... In a way, it depends on how you draw, to answer the first part of your answer. I have several styles or "moods", and certainly when I detail more, even while Potrace does (if you handle it right) an amazing job, it's always a vectorizer,there's almost always a trade-off: accuracy or way too many nodes to allow easy editing later on, or to export for web or whatever it's the purpose. I guess you work with b/w lineart only, and probably stylized illustration, not super detailed. In that specific case I agree. Besides the extra control with pencils or ink.

But however the scanner is, you will need to retouch, to apply color, etc. Even minimizing those stages, a bamboo will cut times.

A good scanner costs quite, but honestly, I tend to use cheap scanners and fix whatever digitally. Obviously using the scanner in the best settings, and using scanners that are more or less ok in quality, even if cheap. This is also as mainly I edit the image a lot, later on, so is less important the intial quality of the sketch.

But for lineart, already very clean, solid black, no greys, performed a good scan, and knowing the deals in potrace (used in command line or inside Inkscape) , no colors needed later on, or basically solid color fill only, then yep, you might not need a wacom, and an average, cheap scanner can do what is needed.


I just got a Canon CanoScan LiDE 210 just recently. Amazing scanner. Bought it for $97. No discount applied. :)


  • Inexpensive
  • Surprisingly light.
  • Requires no external power source; The power source is your USB hub.
  • Easy-to-install drivers. Very self-explanatory. Installation is transparent; If you don't want the bundled software and just want the driver, you can select that in custom install.


  • Bundled OCR system is basically useless. But again, I didn't buy the scanner for an OCR software. And it's to be expected that a scanner with a good OCR software costs much more than what this costs. To be honest, I'm actually pleasantly surprised that they bundled this feature in.

Overall, 10/10 for the price and usability.

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