Instructables

A great technique for scanning your inked drawings

Picture of A great technique for scanning your inked drawings
This is a nice and quick way to get amazingly crisp and sharp scans of your artwork.
The scanning process itself is crazy fast and you'll end up with a perfect scan - no need to adjust levels or remove smudges, scratches and noise because of the texture of the paper.

And the best part, at least for me, is that the scan itself will be cut out from the background so you don't have to spend time removing it and can move straight on to colouring or whatever you'd want to do.

You can only use this procedure with white or, at least light, paper with sketches drawn using ink, felt tip pens, markers and the like.
It won't work as well when you've used a lead pencil or something else that leaves smudges and/or has a faint edge.

You need a scanner (duh) and Photoshop or similar graphics software like Gimp.
I used a semi-professional Agfa scanner but even the cheap ones will work, the only important thing is that it needs to scan at twice the resolution you want to end up with.
So if you want your finished artwork to be in 300dpi it has to be able to scan in 600dpi, this shouldn't be a problem since most modern scanners can do more than twice that.

In step 4 you'll find a quick rundown for people who know their way around Photoshop as well as some final notes and examples of the difference between this scanning method and the "regular" one.

Also, please note that it's important that you do all the steps in the exact same order I describe or you won't get the same results.
 
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kwoodham3 days ago

This is exactly what I've been trying to figure out for years. Beautifully simple. Thank you.

terrys548 months ago
You probably don't read these any more, but, on the off chance that you do, thanks for saving an old man from having a stroke. Brilliant solution.
rauz (author)  terrys548 months ago
I still read them (I get an e-mail whenever someone replies) and I'm happy to hear people still get some use out of them. Glad you avoided that stroke! :)
seegoer2 years ago
Sorry to say it, but I strongly disagree. Never down-sample. For line art (i.e. b/w with no shades of gray), you should have a bitmapped file with the highest possible 'optical' resolution your scanner can handle. (Optical means true dpi, and anything more or less is interpolated. This means the computer will arbitrarily remove or add pixels.) Avoid down or up interpolation at all costs. This destroys the line. Here's the proof: Print a 600 dpi line art bitmapped scan (I prefer 800-1200) and compare to a 300 dpi grayscale antialiased print. It's very logical: For a better image, never remove pixels. If you want to color the line art image, convert to CMYK or RGB and start coloring. I'm a cartoonist, and the only time I down-sample or anti-alias a file is for low-resolution web/screen viewing. Never for print.
rauz (author)  seegoer2 years ago
Adding/interpolating pixels is exactly the idea with this technique. I've done it hundreds of times and the lines I want to see are still there.

I'm not a cartoonist but in the graphic business and to me this works exactly how I, and many of the people I've taught the technique, want it to.

So, basically - let's just agree to disagree. You're free to do with this information as you wish.
seegoer rauz2 years ago
1200 dpi bitmapped for line art is industry standard. Check it out on any print test. Consult any prepress expert. Ask your local print shop. It's standard; probably in the Photoshop manual too. Too many web sources to cite, for example: http://www.graphic-design-employment.com/prepress-training.html
rauz (author)  seegoer2 years ago
This is not about print. It's about cleaning up scanned art, drawn on paper, for mainly digital use. Try it for yourself and you'll see the advantages. This is just a tool among many others, and anyone is free to use it at their own discretion.
supercheap4 years ago
does anybody know how to do the same thing in GIMP? they don't have the color range option, and when i use the select by color tool, the white edges don't go away.
NEVERMIND! i i tried using the select by color tool a second time and the white particles vanished. :) and i want to thank you soooo much for this technique. i've been using it for almost a year now! but since i've had to move computers i lost photoshop and was forced to acquire GIMP.
otherrider4 years ago
 I have a question instead of comment.  I make small line drawings with mechanical pencil.  I would like to make the background paper dissappear from a scanned image so I could montage/layer drawings   Would this technique work and be able to retain the color/shades of the lead?
rauz (author)  otherrider4 years ago
Hi! That seems like a good application although there's no way to scan in color with this method so my suggestion is to do the colouring later, in Photoshop.
rosebud12965 years ago
wow this will be a lot of help thanx! I think you can use a process were you put paper under paper, then put i think tracing paper in-between then you trace over the drawing in pen and then ta-da the under sheet that was white now is inked! then you copy it and print it out to experiment with.
tamsin6 years ago
this is gonna help me prepare sketches for my embroidery machine. thanks.
Surprisingly simple tutorial, simple technique... but pretty powerful and worthwhile. I really like these instrubles that don't have too much, but give a technique I can remember and use that I would not have likely thought up myself.
denilsonsa6 years ago
I haven't tried this technique yet, but the idea to double the resolution and then scale down is great. So simple and so effective. Really, much better than using grayscale and then messing up with color (black) levels, curves, gamma... Congratulations! Of course, this only applies to black/white drawings, with no gray information.
josheeg7 years ago
That is true I used gimp a free and open source photoshop kinda thing to make the contrast better and make it look like a line drawing by putting it through a high pass filter techneque shown in gimp tutorials. Printed it. Then traced it. Then re-traced it useing the free and open source inkscape so it would be scalable and vector based.
josheeg7 years ago
I like inkscapes trace bitmap now its scalable and vector. saves time... & free
rauz (author)  josheeg7 years ago
I like it too but in case you already have Illustrator (which isn't free, I know) its Live Trace function is better and has more options. But tracing rarely works exactly as you want with drawings made by hand, they somehow lose their "organic" feeling. That being said, tracing with Inkscape or Illustrator is even easier if you scan the drawing using this method, first :)