Scan Preparation!

Enjoy this video I made for you demonstrating how I use Photoshop process scanned comic-book line art to get it ready for lettering and colouring and generally Being A Real Comic Book.

Topics covered include, but are not limited to:

  1. Sucking rough blue sketches out from underneath clean black line art
  2. Knocking out line art to give it transparent negative space (more useful than simply setting a line-art layer to the “Multiply” blend mode)
  3. Adding tidy-but-not-too-clean panel borders

Using Photoshop’s “Black & White” adjustment vs. rough blue line art.

When I draw a thing, I often first draw it rough using Col-Eraseā„¢ blue pencil. Then I go over top and make it look NICER using a dark pencil.

I used to remove the blue pencil from the image in Photoshop by selecting the “blue” channel of the RGB scan and turning that into the line art. That was the old way! This is the new way, and it is better!

Look at this drawing. This is what a raw scan usually looks like. See the faint blue lines in there? Ick.


This is what it looks like when I select the blue RGB channel:



It’s pretty effective, but not a critical hit. I can still see faint traces of the blue lines:



Normally I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d just blow ‘em out by increasing the contrast (through the Curves or Levels adjustment). BUT WHY SETTLE FOR THAT?


I don’t know when Photoshop introduced the Black & White adjustment tool, but it’s my new best friend. Let’s make a Black & White adjustment layer above our raw scan.


You’ll get this fun palette popping up:


… but you’ll still see the faint blue lines. They’ll be in black & white, but they’re still very visible. HOLD ON, that’s because we haven’t DONE ANYTHING yet.

CLICK! I select the “Blue Filter" preset:


Now look where those blue lines used to be:


You can even jack the sliders up to make your old blue lines look BRIGHTER, which is no big deal because our goal in the end will be to make that light-grey that used to be my white paper actually look white.


I’ma add a Curves adjustment layer.


Fiddle with the curves til your paper surface is white and your lines look about as good as they can look:


YOU CAN STOP NOW IF THAT’S ALL YOU WANT. Here’s some bonus shizz. I’m going to show you how to make the most useful line art you can have. Go to the Channels palette and command-click (or CTRL-click if you need your instructions to be that specific to your own personal life experience) the RGB channel’s thumbnail:


You’ll get a selection in the shape of your lines. Important : INVERT SELECTION. Don’t “invert” the contents of the selection, use the INVERT SELECTION menu thing or just press command-shift-I. Then make a new layer to accommodate your line art:


Fill the selection with your colour of choice:


Ta-da! You have useful line art. Why is this more useful than simply setting your line art layer to “Multiply?” Well, give it a try and see if you can’t come up with your own reason. Or just trust me. It’s MORE FLEXIBLE.


Adding Texture in Photoshop Without Affecting Colour.

Since Zac Gorman asked,

1) Scan your paper or other piece of whatever you intend to use as “texture”.

2) Adjust levels etc. as necessary. Get it looking nice and even (assuming this is the effect you want).

3) Run the “High Pass” Photoshop Filter on that flattened image. Find it under FILTER > OTHER > HIGH PASS

3b) Tweak High Pass parameters as necessary. Get it just right and you win a stuffed Finn from Adventure Time.

4) Layer that High-Passed image above the layers you want to affect.

5) Set that layer’s Blend Mode to “Overlay”.

Voila. Hopefully the High Pass filter sucked out the essence of the texture you want to use. (If not, figure out another way.) Since the High Pass-ed image is mostly 50% grey, setting it to “Overlay” doesn’t mess with your image’s colour too much because I guess that’s how Overlay works. Shrug?

Photoshop and Dual Monitors: a Great Tip!

Seems like a lot of people I know run a Cintiq off an iMac. I’m lucky enough to have such a setup. The problem? When painting on the Cintiq, I had been wasting all that real estate on the iMac. It would be full of iTunes and Firefox and Adium and a bunch of other horrible distractions.


I caught friend and co-worker Shyh Chai using the following trick, and it’s gonna change my dual-monitor habits for the better. FOREVER.

I’m talking about Photoshop’s “New Window for…” feature. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? If not, this is what it does: you open up a document. In the “Window” menu, under “Arrange”, you’ll find an item called “New Window for [DocumentName]”. Click that, and Photoshop makes a new, second window that shows the same document as the one you have open. You can work on either and see the results in both windows.

What I do now is drag one window to each monitor and full-screen them both. On my Cintiq, I can dig down and noodle about and paint and draw. I leave the full, zoomed-out view on the second monitor. Not only do I get to easily view the entire canvas (very handy for keeping things in perspective), but it blocks out my browser and other apps and my distracting Christina Hendricks desktop pictures.