Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Question for everyone who scans hand-drawn art
JLG at 3:00PM, May 22, 2010
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Okay, I've puzzling over this for a while. I don't understand how people seem to have no trouble making their scans so smooth and clean.

When I started my strip, it was murder to scan the originals because I use a LOT of cheap white-out, which is bumpy and smudgy on the page, so it would take ages just cleaning that gunk up after scanning. So to solve this, I started using the Xerox machine at work, which cleans up almost all the flaws in one swoop, and then scan the copy. But it's troubled me knowing that I'm probably the only person who does this, and that everyone else is able to scan their originals without trouble.

There's another aspect to this. Until recently, I'd only been using the Xeroxes because of the white-out bumps/smudges. But if a strip was relatively low on corrections, or if I couldnt' use the copier for some reason, i'd scan the original like I used to. Recently, I've noticed that there's a considerable difference in quality between scans from originals and from xeroxes. And it's not what you're thinking: the xeroxes are way, WAY better. When I scan from originals, the black lines often end up jagged when viewed at 100%, sometimes even at 50%. (Although you can't tell at web resolution, the strip I have up right now is an example of this.) I don't get it, because I really do about the same amount of Brightness/Contrast fiddling on originals versus xeroxes, in order to get pure white and pure black. And on some of them, it's been a LOT of fiddling, which I know can compromise the lines, but even on some of the xeroxes where a lot of contrasting was done, they look better than some of the scanned originals.
Some of the earlier strips look so bad when viewed in Photoshop that I almost want to take on the massive and annoying task of recreating them completely, using xeroxes this time. But BOY, is that going to be a pain.

But I don't understand why this is a problem for me in the first place. So many people create beautiful scans of their hand-inked art, with fine lines and details intact as you please. I know THEY'RE not waltzing up to the xerox machine at the office. XD So how do you all do it? And does anyone have any idea why the xerox scans look so much better? (All I can think is that it has something to do with the fact that most of these are drawn on vellum bristol.)

Thanks to anyone with any suggestions.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:09PM
Joneko at 8:27PM, May 22, 2010
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Honestly, if the xerox works so well for you, I would embrace the fact that you're one of the few people doing it. That's pretty cool, actually. I sort of wonder if I could try that with my lines, it's very clever.

As for the scanning, what DPI do you scan at? Everyone I know who scans in hand-drawn lines scans them in at 300DPI. It results in crazy detail and a large file, and when you change the image size again the picture ends up much better than if you'd scanned it in at that size to begin with.

The fact that the brightness and contrast thing isn't working for you as compared to the xerox might have something to do with the quality of the equipment. What kind of scanner are you using?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
KAM at 10:44PM, May 22, 2010
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You really should give more info on how you scan.

Joneko already mentioned the DPI thing, but my scanner has a Lineart feature that usually only picks up the inked lines.

As for differences between scanning from a copier vs the original, it probably has to do with the differences between the machines.

When I used to use copiers (pre-computer) I used red ink instead of black because the copier would print it as black (I would also use yellow & green for grey tones), but when I started scanning my art the red would scan as grey instead of black, so I had to switch to a black pen if I wanted black lines.
The KAMics - my cartoons
KAM's Fanart - fanart
KAMics Kast - cast pages
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:13PM
Skullbie at 2:00AM, May 23, 2010
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Those so called ‘beautiful scans’ probably look similar to yours at first, the artists fix them using levels adjustment in photoshop and even digital inking. They also have programs with their scanners to help the art show, not ‘scanner wizard’ in windows.

 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:48PM
JLG at 6:49PM, May 23, 2010
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Depending on what scanner I have access to at a given moment, I'll scan at 500 dpi (home scanner), or scan at 300 dpi (work scanner—that's the highest it goes) and then immediately, before making adjustments to the contrast, increase the resolution to 500 or 600. The majority of recent ones were done this way. (If it's one with a lot of very small details, I'll scan it at something crazy like 800 and just leave it like that :)

I think that doing this has helped a little bit, since the recent strips look better than some of the really bad early ones I mentioned before. My theory is that the extra 200 dpi provides a sort of “buffer” of protection against the worst line damage from Brightness/Contrast. But that didn't help with the crummy-looking current one I've got up now. Why this was, I don't know. It really bothers me when I end up with such a relatively shoddy result, with jagged, ugly lines. Wish I knew what others were doing differently…

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:09PM
Joneko at 10:08PM, May 23, 2010
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Maybe it's a matter of the traditional materials, not the digital method.

You mentioned you do your work on vellum bristol. Vellum can be a good texture for inks, but inks on bristol, or many other surfaces, don't necessarily scan well no matter how nicely they look. This isn't always the case, but I did find that when I started using actual comic paper the inks looked better.

Take a look at what you're inking with too. I'm in the middle of trying to find better pens, because I don't like the way my lines look when I scan them in, and I need to do a LOT of work to get them workable. You need something with a very even, level distribution of ink, something clean and crisp. What are you using?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
artofzinn at 11:39PM, May 23, 2010
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IT MAY BE YOUR SCANNER, I WAS USING A HP AND MY SCANS SUCKED SO I STARTED PHOTGRAPHING MY PAGES . THEN I RECENTLY BOUGHT ONE OF THE NEW KODAK SCANNERS JUST BECAUSE THE INK IS SUPPOST TO BE SO CHEAP AND MAN IT SCANS AWESOME ! MY LINES LOOK GOOD AND PENCILLED ART LOOKS AND PRINTS ALMOST IDENTICAL TO THE ORIGINAL . THIS SCANNER IS INTENDED MAINLY FOR PHOTOS I GUESS AND I FIGURE THAT'S THE BIG DIFFERENCE SINCE THE HP IS MORE OF A BUSINESS MACHINE ? ANYHOW GOOD LUCK..
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
Jabali at 7:37AM, May 25, 2010
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I have used lots scanners, cheap ones and expensive top of the line, I have never had any trouble with my scans. I only use the the scanner software to assign the DPI and color format RGB or Gray. It comes down( as Skullbie said) to Photoshop. Yes, some original art are better for scan than others but all can be adjusted using PS.

There are several approaches for adjusting an art page. Two of them is using Levels and adjust from Image / adjust in PS. you can try using brightness and contrast but at your own risk.

Here's another approach I use when I need to adjust a heavily penciled or white corrected page.

a) scan the black and white page in RGB ( yes even if is b&W)

b) Open the file in PS

c) before doing any adjusting go to the window menu and open channels.

d) You'll notice that the image its divided into three channels; red, green and blue. Check the channels individually and you might notice that one of them might be better to adjust than others.

e) Select the one channel that better suits you, go to image menu select mode and convert to grayscale. PS will ask if you want to delete the other channels, say yes. You'll will have a grayscale image that will be better to adjust or work with it.

There are lots of ways to adjust any image in PS, you just need to start experimenting and go wild with PS. Hope my tips do help you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
sariojonathan at 3:06AM, May 27, 2010
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Don't scanners have scanning modes? Like B/W, Grayscale, RGB?

When you scan it, set it to B/W first. Open it in Photoshop then change the modes into Grayscale first and then into RGB for coloring.

This works best when scanning something thats inked because you can set the scanner's sensitivity. It'll pick up the ink but it will avoid the erasures and pencils because they're too light for the scanner.

If all goes well, you won't need to do any cleaning up or level adjustments and head straight for coloring.

You're already scanning on 800 dpi, I scan on 300 and I'm satisfied with how it looks.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:24PM
Jabali at 7:33AM, May 27, 2010
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If that works for you and others, awesome! As I said, Is just one approach.

It comes down to give real tips with detailed procedures. Buying new/expensive equipment is not always the answer ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
elektro at 10:59AM, May 31, 2010
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When I scanned in hand-drawn art, I had to adjust the colors via Photoshop to make it look cleaner. There is an option under the adjustments tab in Photoshop that can achieve that (in CS2, which is what I have, it's the channel mixer option. CS3 and later has the black-and-white plug-in, which is much, much better).

What I did after that was take it to Illustrator and vectorized the drawing. I'm not sure if you have Illustrator or not, but that could help there too.

After that was done, I returned it to Photoshop to finish everything off.



Of course, this only worked well for me if the art I had didn't have any gray prismacolor on it. The ones that had prismacolor looked terrible, and there was only so much I could do to make them look better.



Anyway, maybe that should help?

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:21PM
Nako at 6:34PM, June 11, 2010
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materials???

Maybe you should use smooth bristol for a change? I don't know, because I've never used bristol to make comics yet.

Anyway, I use black gel pens or markers for inking, and just ordinary bond paper for paper.

scanner???

I must say, I'm not that knowledgeable with scanners…

I currently use an HP printer/scanner/copier, and it works okay. I just use the scanning wizard thing (even though HP does have a scanning program of its own) and scan my work in grayscale. I don't know what resolution I scan in, though. When I didn't have a scanner, I usually tell the people in the comp shop to scan at 300 (but they never could because my USB had too little space).

Photoshop???

What I do in Photoshop is…
- make the background into a layer 0
- use the magic wand tool (tolerance 20, the default 32? will take away some of my lineart if I don't re-mask, resulting in fugly thin lines) to select those non-line areas
- enter quick mask mode
- remove masks on those dirty spots/lines/etc.
- exit quick mask mode
- erase the selected areas
- remove the selection
- make a layer 1 and put it under layer 0
- fill layer 1 with white

That's how I currently clean my lineart.
Nya!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:09PM
Eunice P at 7:00PM, June 13, 2010
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Scan your art in 300 dpi gray scale. Don't use contrast adjustment. Try using level or contour adjustment first before attempting using contrast adjustment. Then clean up any specs with erasers. Most of the time, I scan my pencil sketched comics without relying much on contrast adjustment. The same effect can be achieved for hand inked comics.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:23PM
cetriya at 9:24AM, June 14, 2010
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I draw my pages about 50% larger then scan at 40–600 dpi bw but I adjust the levels/treshhold in the customs scan menu.

then I change it to greyscale, then to print size but uping the dpi but keeping the same size in pixel. The more DPI you stuff the smoother it is.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:39AM

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