Sunday Mailbag

August 27th, 2006 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: How do you scan your inked originals for coloring in PhotoShop?

A: I have an oversized flatbed scanner, the Microtek 9800XL, which has a live scan area of 12 inches by 17 inches. Even with the large bed,??ᬨ‚Ćmy pages are often??ᬨ‚Ćbigger than this, so I scan??ᬨ‚Ćthem in sections and piece??ᬨ‚Ćthem together in PhotoShop. Most of the time I ink my drawings at 150% of the size they print at, and in the case of MAD work it’s at 200% (MAD tradition). The poster image I inked for the inking tutorial, for example, had a print size of 17 x 17 inches. Those posters are very large, so I actually ink them at print size, which is far less forgiving than inking at 150% or 200% or print size but to do it at 150% would mean an original of 25.5 x 25.5 inches! That is gigantic and would take six scans! That image I am inking on the tutorial is 17 x 17 inches in size. I can scan about 17 x 10.5 inches or so on the flatbed (as you get closer to the edge of the scanner, an oversized image is distorted by the slight bend that the raised edge of the scanner has) so two scans will take care of it.

There is no real trick to stitching it together. I just create one large image file at the full size of the original (in this case 17 x 17), then drag the scans over to it and drop them as new layers. I position one in place, then change the opacity of the second to 60% or so, and move it into place or as close as I can get it. I will almost always need to rotate the image one way or the other to match up the lines. Having the one layer semitransparent helps see where you are off. When it’s matched I will ‘fuzz’ the edge of the top layer a little with a soft eraser tool, then change the opacity back to 100% on that layer. Then I flatten it. I usually have to go back in and clean up some areas that don’t quite match up… The scanner is not perfect and with such a large scan area I suspect the speed of the scan lamp isn’t 100% consistent, because the center of an image is often a little off even when the edges match up perfectly. The only way around it is to fix the misregistered lines by hand in PhotoShop.

MAD splash pages are the worst to scan. MAD sends me the board at 200% of print size as I mentioned, so the originals are HUGE. An original MAD splash is 16 3/4 x 32 1/2 with a full bleed. That takes four scans.

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