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Retromags > Guide > Scanning a Magazine


If you have the hard drive space, I highly recommend saving the initial scan as a TIF file. It is a lossless format, so no information is lost to compression, and the quality doesn't degrade each time you save it. The files are large though. Each scan is about 25.5 megs, making a 200 page unedited magazine take up almost 5 gigs of space. If you don't have that kind of room, change the settings to JPG at the highest quality possible.

I mentioned bleed through when talking about auto document feeders. You will get bleed through on a flatbed scanner as well, but it is easy to over come this. All you need is two pieces of black construction paper and some scotch tape.

Because the lid is white, colours will bleed through a page that is light coloured. So to get around this, we tape one piece of black construction paper to the lid. You can use double-sided tape, or make your own by looping some scotch tape onto itself. Place it at the top end of the lid, where we will be putting our pages.

Construction Paper on the scanne lid

If you are scanning a staple bound issue that you have not taken apart, this is where the second piece of paper is used. On pages where you think it will bleed through, place the construction paper in the magazine behind the page you are scanning. I tend to do his for every page, even if the colours wouldn't bleed through without it. I would rather get it done and over with the first time than to have to go back and rescan something if the bleed through was too much to remove in editing.

Scanner Settings

HP Solution Center

As mentioned earlier, I use an HP All-in-on Photosmart C7280 with their HP Solution Center ver.13, so I will go through the settings for that scanner. If you have an HP scanner or all-in-one that uses the same software, the settings should be the same. For everyone else, I will list the basic settings you should use below, if your scanner allows it.

I will assume that you've set your scanner set up and that it works already. After you start Solution Center, you are given several options, including Scan Picture, Scan Document, Transfer Images, and so on. You'll be clicking Scan Pictures once we get the settings set up. For now, click on "Settings" at the bottom right. This will bring you to a new screen where you can change the settings for scanning, faxing, printing, and other. We want scanning, so click on "Scan Settings". A pop-up box will expand; select "Scan Picture Settings".

HP Solution Center

In the new window that pops up, at the top beside "1. Scan Document Button", make sure Picture to File is selected, and click "Manage Scan Shortcuts" at the bottom.

Scan Button Settings

This will bring up "Manage Scan Shortcuts". Here is where we make our changes. Under Scan Type, select "Picture (Glass or Feeder)", Output Type to Color, Scan to as Save to file, and File Type as Tiff image (*.tif).

Manage Scan Shotcuts

Next, click on "Advanced Picture Settings" and set the following:

Output Resolution: 300ppi
Color Type: Millions of Colors
When scanning pictures from the glass: Scan the entire scanning glass

Advanced Picture Settings

Leave everything else unchecked, and click OK.

Back at the "Manage Scan Shortcuts" window, click on "Save to file->Save Options". File Type should already be set to tiff. Change the Base File Name setting to scan, or some other generic word, and select a save location. Also check the box at the bottom that says "Prompt for these Save Options at time of scan". Click OK.

Now it is time to save these settings. Click Save Shortcut..., and a new window will pop up. Rename "Picture to File" to something else that is short, like Scan to File, or Picture > File, and put that in the Shortcut Name box and the Box for the Abbreviated name for LCD Display. Click Save, then Click Done. Make sure "1. Scan Document Button" is set to the one you just created and then click OK to close the last window.

General Settings for Other Scanners

If you are using a different scanner, here are the basic settings:

Resolution: 300dpi
Millions of Colours
File Format: TIFF or whatever the default lossless format is (JPG 100% if you don't have the space for TIFF)
Descreen (if possible)
Enhanced Colour
Saturation: 120 (if the default saturation is zero, increase it to 20)
Set the Save to folder to something easily accessible

Windows Image Acquisition

You can skip all the previous stuff, and your scanners software, and scan images using Windows Image Acquisition. It's incredibly easy, and it lets you skip the sometimes bulky scanner software. However, there are a few downsides. One is that you have to save each image individually, which is a pain. You also can't descreen a scan before saving it, so the scans have that moiré pattern that is common with scans of magazines. That means you have an extra step in Photoshop with running the Despeckle filter, which doesn't work as good as descreening through the scanner. Finally, even though you set the resolution to 300ppi, Paint saves everything at 96 ppi. Again, that means an extra step in Photoshop, where you have to keep the dimensions of the scan the same, but increase the resolution to 300. If you still want to scan this way, read on.

Open up Paint. Yes, Paint. As useless as the program is, it's easy to operate your scanner through it. Under File, select "From Scanner or Camera". In the new window, click Preview to see your page.

Scanning through Paint

Click "Adjust the Quality of the scanned picture", and make sure the resolution is 300.


Click OK, and then click scan. Your scan will show up in Paint. Save it as you would any other doodle you'd make in Paint, navigating to where you are saving your scans, selecting TIFF as the format, and clicking save.

Now, let's compare the scans. The scan the HP software produced is on the left, the scan through Paint on the right.

Note: The HP scans were taken without some of the setting mentioned below. Thus colours for the HP scan are not as vivid as they should be.

HP                                                                     Windows Image Acquisition through Paint

HP                                                                     Windows Image Acquisition through Paint

HP                                                                           Windows Image Acquisition through Paint

HP                                                                      Windows Image Acquisition through Paint

Scanning a Debound Magazine

When scanning a page, make sure that the top of the page is nicely aligned with the top of your scanner. Magazines are almost never cut straight, that's why it's wise to always use the top side of a page as a reference. Try to get the page in the middle of the bed in relation to the sides of the scanner. This will ensure you are not losing part of the page from the scanner not being able to scan right to the side of the scanner. Close the lid slowly enough that it doesn't cause your page to move.

If the page you are scanning has text right at the top edge of the page, line of one of the sides with no text close to the edge with the side of the scanning bed. Or place it away from all the edges and as straight as possible. This will ensure that nothing gets cut off during scanning.

With your scanner settings in place, select Scan Picture, and let the scanner do its work. It will present you with a preview of the page you have on the scanner bed. There are a couple of setting to change here that we were unable to change for the overall settings. First, click on the last tab on the right (the one that looks like a magic wand), and check the box beside Descreen.

HP Scanning

Next, click on the tab beside it (the blue, red, and yellow sliders). This setting is optional, but I found it helped. I found my scans have a bit of a reddish tint to them, so I adjusted the colour using the colour wheel. I found a setting of –18 for X and –13 for Y got rid of most of the tint and made editing in Photoshop a bit easier. Like I said, it's optional, as this can be corrected in Photoshop later. Check the box that says "Enhanced Color", and increase the Saturation by 20.

HP Scanning

Once everything is set, click Finish at the bottom right. It should take a few seconds for it to scan the page again before a window pops up telling you it is done ad asking if you want to scan again. Open the lid and flip the page over (close the lid again), then click "Yes" or hit "Y", and then click Finish again (or hit "F"). It will take another few second to scan that page, before it again says it is done, and if you want to scan again. Take the page out of the printer, placing it face down in a new pile, and start on a new page. You don't need to preview each new scan, which save a lot of time. Just continue flipping/swapping pages, and hitting Y and F to scan until you are done with the magazine or have had enough for the day.

When I finish scanning a page, I put it in the lower tray of my All-in-One; when I finish a scanning session, I put the pages that still need scanning on the top tray.

Quitting Time

If you come across pages, such as supplements and ads that are not counted towards the total page count of the issue, it is best to stop scanning once you get through those so we can make an adjustment.

The scanner will use whatever prefix you chose in the settings (in this case "scan"), and add 0001 to the first scan, and increase the number by one for each scan. Because we want the page umber in the file name to match the actual page number, we will change the filename of those pages not counted towards the magazines page count.

So let's say you just scanned 8 pages of ads from Konami, and you notice that the page before them was page 88 and the page after is page 89. Those 8 pages are not part of the page count. So once all the scans have transferred from the scanner to your hard drive, find the first page of the ads and rename it from scan0089 to scan0088a. Rename the rest scan0088b through h, and that is it. Now, when you scan page 89, the scanner will give it the file name scan0089, and you'll be back on track.

Some magazines do not count their covers as pages. GamePro is one of these. Page 1 is the first page after the front back cover. The easiest thing to do here is scan the Front cover, and inside front cover, and rename then to scan0000a and scan0000b before moving on with the rest of the magazines. When you are done scanning the magazine, rename the inside back cover scan0999a and the back cover scan0999b.

When dealing with missing pages, we'll have to rename files once scanning is complete. We'll get into file renaming later. Or, you can save blank scans so the numbering isn't changed, and you can replace them after editing with the Missing Page image.

Note: It's been my experience that once in a blue moon the scanner will stop responding or hangs during scanning, or I will get an error message in Solution Center. Because my HP is connected wirelessly, the scans don't make it to my hard drive until I click "No" when it asks if I want to scan another picture. Thus I have lost lots of work when one of these problems arose since the scans were never transferred over. So I recommend clicking no every 30 pages or so, so that if something like that happens, you haven't lost that much time with what was lost. If it happens, check what the last file in your scan folder was, and remove everything before that from your scanned pile and start again.

If you plan on scanning more than one magazine at a time before editing, create a folder where your scans are, and give it the name of the magazine (i.e. GamePro Issue 090 January 1997) and move the scans in there. Otherwise, move onto editing!

Scanning a Bound Magazine

If you have an issue that you really want to scan, but definitely do not want to debind, it can definitely be done, even though it's more work.

There is something that will make a big difference in the quality of your scans when scanning magazines with a hard spine. Take the magazine and open it up at around the middle page, put it face down in front of you on a stable, flat surface so that the spine is facing you. Now push the spine as hard as you can downwards from top to bottom. This will not destroy the spine, but it will make it much more flexible and thus easier to scan. Repeat this process for every 20 pages or so until you can't press the spine any more downwards.

Magazines still bound will require you to scan with the lid open and with you pushing down on the magazine with your hands on the spine side.

You will notice that unless you're scanning pages around the middle of the magazine, one side will always be much thinner than the other. This results in the part of the page along the spine being lifted by the thick half of the magazine, and thus making that part of the page appear fuzzy and discolored.

The best remedy for this is to take another magazine of roughly the same size and thickness, and place it on top the thin side of the magazine, spine against spine. This will help you place pressure more evenly on the magazine than if you did not use a second magazine. Do not forget to use that second piece of black construction paper to prevent bleed through when scanning a magazine that is still bound by placing it in between the pages, immediately behind the one you are scanning.

Scanning bound magazines also means you will need some sort of box for the part of the magazine that hangs off the scanner. Something as close to level to the scanning bed is preferable.

The Helper

Depending on how your scanner lid opens, you may need to scan every other page upside down. No big deal, as this is fixed in editing; it's just more work.

Follow the scanning procedure from above or for your particular scanner, and then move on to editing.

Scanning a Staple-bound Magazine

Staple-bound magazines follow the same procedure as scanning a perfect-bound magazine that has not been debound.

Scanning a Poster

Some issues included posters that could be removed and hung on a wall. If your issue has a poster, and you want to scan it, go ahead. It's a bit of work, but it makes the magazine more complete.

The easiest way is to scan each piece of the poster separately as it's folded, and then piece it together in Photoshop. There are no real tricks to it. If you can unfold it a bit and scan a bit extra around each panel, it will give you some leeway when piecing it back together.