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Cleaning Tutorial 01 – Prepping a Page

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Prepping an image involves setting the color mode, layers, and rotation. It can involve Levels and/or Curves but those will be covered later.


Assuming computer literacy, I’ll let you handle opening the program and image.

Step 01

You first need to go to Image>Mode>Grayscale to grayscale the image. Unless it’s a color image for whatever reason you always want to be working in greyscale. Don’t ask me why just do it.

Step 02

After this you need to create some layers. You can do this in a couple of ways. Before I turned pro and mapped everything to shortcuts I preferred using the Layers Window, but all of the commands are available under the Layers Menu at the top of the image window.

To open the Layers window you can either go Windows>Dockable Dialogs>Layers via the windows menu, or by right-clicking the window.

Once it’s open you need to duplicate the layer titled ‘background’ by either right-clicking it and selecting ‘duplicate layer’ or pressing the third little button from the right at the bottom of the window.

Click the button on the far left next to create a new layer. A window will pop up asking for bunch of information but all you need to do is make sure that the layer fill type is transparent before hitting ok.

If everything went correctly you should have 3 layers named “background”, “background copy” and “new layer” in that order from top to bottom.

The bottom layer is a backup in case you need to get back and grab something from the raw, or to use as a reference. It should stay untouched throughout the entire cleaning proces, as some typesetters like using it as a reference for text placement.

The ‘background copy’ layer is what you’ll be doing most of the work on. Stuff like cloning and brushing should be done here.

The ‘New Layer’ is supposed to be used for paths and penstrokes, but I’m lame and forget to switch to that layer a lot.

Step 03

Rotation is a pain in the ass because scanners can create warping effects which make it impossible to make a page look correctly aligned. Start by grabbing your rectangle select tool (Default: R) and choosing a line to run it along. The Crop Tool (Default Shift+C) works just as well.

The purpose of this is to determine just how skewed the page is. A good place is the corner of a panel so you can pull the selection across two lnes at once. If you’re lucky no rotation will be necessary but it’ll probably be easy to tell whether a page needs it or not to begin with.

After getting an idea of how much you need to unfuck the page, make sure you have the background copy layer selected, and open the rotate window (Default: Shift+R).

This window is pretty simple. Change the rotation angle by pulling the slider around, entering a degree between -180 and 180 in the box, or by clicking the arrows. You can pull the center of rotation around but it shouldn’t ever be necessary.

Switch to the Toolbox (the big window with all of the pretty buttons) and while the rotation tool is open make sure the preview option is set to ‘image’.

Now try to level the image out based on how skewed it was when you used the rotation tool. In most cases no more than .5 of a degree in either direction is necessary. Select ok and then re-measure the rotation. If you over rotated, either undo the changes (Default: Ctrl+Z) and try again or rotate the other direction. If you under rotated, keep going until you get it.

If the page has warping you’ll just have to tweak until it looks as good as you can get it. You can redraw all of the panel borders if you want to but in my experience it doesn’t turn out very well very often.

Once you get it rotated right you might notice some patches near the corners where you can see the dark checkers that stand for transparency. If the page has big-ass white borders like the sample in the zip I provide to you you can just brush over the transparency and be done with it.

If there is something there you can either crop the image or reconstruct whatever was there. In most cases I just crop the image down and depending on the image’s resolution and how many pixels I had to crop off I’ll scale the image up to match the standard size of the chapter.

Closing Notes

Ok so you’ve made it through the most boring apect of cleaning. Now you’re ready to start cleaning proper. The rest is interesting, or at the very least quick and mindless. I promise.


Download Files


Next Tutorial: Levels


Written by PIR

January 15, 2009 at 23:56

Posted in Tutorials

Tagged with , ,

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