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Author Topic: Scanning comic books?  (Read 8885 times)
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Defender of Kandor
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Semper Vigilans

« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2003, 03:08:39 PM »

Don't mean to intrude here, but I thought I'd weigh in since I've done a little scanning of comics myself.

You may not be able to get around the "red dots" phenomenon if you're blowing up the originals to something really huge.  After all, if you look at the pages with a magnifying glass, they are there.  But I've found when scanning a whole page (rather than a panel) that the dots aren't too much of a problem if I do it with no filters applied.  The software I use offers a filter that's supposed to play down halftones and Benday effects, but in my opinion it just makes them worse.

Another thing to watch out for is the size ratio.  When I scanned in "Superman's Race With The Flash" (ex: from a tabloid-size book, I thought I'd save time by bringing it all in at 50% of its original size.  Everything was honkey-dorey til I reduced the pages for display on the site, and VOILA! great big, pimply red spots on all the flesh areas (and similar "dots" for all secondary and tertiary colors).  In the end I decided to just leave it, as it was too daunting a task to go back and start over.

A handy Photoshop tool for eliminating color is the magic eraser.  Just click on a pixel of the color you want gone and it'll eliminate that color anywhere it appears in the image.  The problem is, what looks like one color can actually be lots of subtle gradations of that color, so for example taking a blue out of Superman's shirt will leave you with lots of other shades of that blue (only now with "holes" where the one blue used to be).  The temptation is to keep picking each shade and erase, erase, erase, but eventually you find that you're losing your linework, since some of the edging (especially on curves) isn't black at all, but rather some very dark blue.

As far as replacing or enhancing linework, the "lasso tool" is very helpful.  I blow up an image to about 300 to 500 percent (depending), draw the lasso in the shape I want the linework to have, and fill that shape with black.  In this way, it's possible to duplicate the effect of varying thicknesses that the inker originally did with a fine brush.  You can make wedges, tear-drop shapes, you name it.

An example of pulling out all the stops is on my front page (  I always loved this image from an old Superman Annual, but my copy wasn't in the best shape.  I found a huge scan at an on-line auction site and used it to build my page, but here's what I found:

- First, whoever scanned it did so without taking it out of its mylar bag, which threw a yellow cast on all the faces that I could not get out.  So I created a new layer, went in and erased all the dots from the "skin" areas and compared my results with the old layer (to make sure I hadn't erased any linework).  In cases where blacks were missing or thinned, I used the original layer as a guide and replaced them in the new layer with the "line" tool or the "lasso" tool.  (What's helpful here is to make the new layer partially transparent, so the old layer shows through underneath, just like using tracing paper).

- Next I decided I didn't like any of the colors too awfully much so I used the "Selective Color" option to tweak them.  This neat tool lets me grab my blues, for example, and adjust the amount of cyan, magenta, yellow and black within it.  Then I can do the same for red, yellow, green, white, etc.  Incidentally this is another good way to bleach yellow out of old comic book pages.

- Now all the colors were good, but I decided the picture was too "flat." So I went in with the airbrush and added shading to muscles, fabric wrinkles, etc and that yellow glow along Superman's side from the sun (the sun is new, too) and basically just tried to make the image a bit more "3-D."

Of course, I never think I'm going to do all this work when I get started...or else I'd never start at all!  :-)

I should note that some comics are better to work with than others, and some from the 70s (like my "Master Mesemerizer" scans) are hopeless.  You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

After wrestling with interior pages, I usually like to scan a few covers.  They are so much easier and more fun to work with, it's good therapy. :-)

This looks like a job for...
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2003, 05:24:36 AM »

Of course, I never think I'm going to do all this work when I get started...or else I'd never start at all!

I know EXACTLY what you mean!

Nightwing, thanks for your detailed posting!  I'll apply your methods in my next scanning/touchup session.


Jimmy Olsen Fan Club
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2003, 04:14:26 PM »

Wow. Thanks for the infos, Great Rao (and Nightwing, too) !   Cheesy  S!
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