It seems a lot of beginners struggle with scanning. You’ve spent days working on the perfect page, but when you scan it your beautiful lines the result is not at all what you’d expect. While I barely do this anymore since I switch to a digital workflow, I’ve scanned my share of art. So, how exactly can you scan comic book art, whilst retaining the maximum amount of details.

1.Use quality cardboard

I suggest using Strathmore Bristol 300 Series. It’s a very robust board. Flimsy material will most likely get damaged or folded when erasing or manipulating the page.

2. Try and keep your pencils light

When doing pencils, try to use lighter graphite pens such as 4H or 2H. Also don’t press too hard, this will create indents in your board and make inking more difficult. Alternatively, you may like using blue pencils better.

3. Erase outstanding graphite

If you already used HB or darker instead of 2H or lighter, you will need to erase a bit to give a chance to your ink. You might even want to erase lightly before inking. Now, if your page is too messy it might be worth starting over. Don’t be afraid of redoing the pencilling of the page, it will be much faster and cleaner the second time around. And your inks will be cleaner too. A word of caution: Inks can be erased a bit. If you go to hard on the eraser, you’ll make little holes on your lines. Not very pretty, although if you only have a little bit, it can be fixed easily in photoshop.

4. Scan in high resolution

I recommend 1600dpi. It will make the next steps much easier. Don’t worry about file size, we will lower the resolution later. Scan in grayscale. Most scanner don’t do a really good job and will merge the graphite with your ink. If your using blue pencil, scan in color, obviously.

5. In  photoshop

Use the levels (cmd+m) to remove all gray left over. Basically you’ll see spikes around the middle the graph, only keep those. After that, use the Filter>noise>Dust and scratches. A little bit goes a long way, just experiment until you are satisfied with your line quality. Median filter works in a similar way I think. This should remove any leftover little scratches. Now with select>color range, choose black. And fill (alt+enter) on a new layer. Delete the old one. You can reduce your resolution at this point. I like to keep it at 600, but 300 should be good enough. Your lines will now be on a transparent layer and you can color under them or even color the lines themselves! Remember to lock the transparency of the layer so that you don’t color on it by mistake.

If you used a blue pencil, you can simply remove the blue channel. MAGIC!

If your drawing is too low resolution, you can color on top of the ink by using a layer in multiply mode.


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