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  • Editing your scans

    So, you've made it this far. Great, scanning was the hard part. In this section, I will cover straightening pages, removing blemishes, colour correcting, resizing, and saving within Photoshop, using Actions.

    The speed of your computer and the amount of RAM will dictate how quickly it can open multiple TIF files. Let's assume your computer is capable of opening 15 TIF files in Photoshop at once. It is easiest to work with the scans when the window is maximized in Photoshop.

    Straightening Pages

    The first thing to do is to make sure the page is straight. For ads it is not as crucial, but for content pages, the straighter they are, the better they look. Depending on the magazine, most pages need to be adjusted by +/- 0.2-0.3 degrees, even when they are lined up perfectly to the top of the scanner. Some pages require more or less. After a while you will be able to tell how much rotating the page needs.

    The quickest way to do this is to take the Marquee tool Marquee Tool and find something that should be straight, such as a series of screen shots, the top or bottom of some title text, a layout box, etc. In this example, we'll use a layout box. Line up the cross hairs to the top/bottom of the straight edge and click and drag to the other end of the page. It's best to do it this way and to not use an edge of the page because in most cases, the magazine was cut crooked. So while the edge may be straight, the content will not be.

    Using the Marquee Tool

    As we can see, the page is crooked. To straighten it, go to the menu bar at the top and select Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary. This one seems to be off more than normal, so I am going to guess that it needs to be rotated 0.5 degrees clockwise.

    Rotate Canvas

    Hit Enter, and your page will be rotated. With the Marquee tool again, do the same thing as before, lining up to the straight edge on the page that you used before.


    What luck! The content is now straight. But the page itself is not. Now it is time to crop.


    Because there is no shortcut for cropping in Photoshop, we will make an action to do so when we crop our first image.

    Take the Marquee tool, and start from a corner or the page – the bottom right is usually the best. Click and drag to the opposite corner – top left in this case. It doesn't have to be exact; just make sure you are not removing too much of the page.

    Now, on the right side of the screen click the Actions button Actions to expand it. At the bottom, click the square with the folded corner to start a new Action New Action.

    Call it Crop, set the function key to F2 and click Record.

    New Action

    In the menu bar, click Image, then Crop. Photoshop will crop your image to where the Marquee lines were. In the Actions tab where you created a new Action, click the Square/Stop button. You can now crop by simply hitting F2 after using the Marquee tool.

    Crop Action

    Now that most of the excess is gone, you can hit CTRL+A to Select All with the Marquee Tool, and use the arrow keys to move the marquee box around and crop until you have cropped to remove all (or most) of the excess.

    Filling in Edges

    There will be times when a cut you made isn't straight, or the magazine was cut crooked. In these instances, you will have an edge that is uneven, exposing the lid of the scanner. In most cases, you don't have to crop this off, causing you to lose more of the actual page. 90% of the time you can use the Clone Stamp Tool Clone Stamp to fill that area in When it a solid coloured background or a patterned background. If the area you need to fill in is part of a screen shot, you will almost always need to crop instead of fill in. In this case, use CTRL+A and move the box with the arrow keys. Count how many times you need to hit the arrow key to cop the background off. If space allows it, crop the same amount from the top or bottom (or both), in order to keep the ratio of the page as much the same as possible.

    To fill in spots along the edge that you didn't crop, click on the Clone Stamp Tool Clone Stamp. Set the brush size to about 70 Hard Round, Normal mode, and 100% Opacity and Flow.

    Brush Size

    Hold ALT and click somewhere on the image that is the same as what you want to clone. Usually that is above or below the area you need to work on. Move the cursor to the area you are filling in, and get started. Keep an eye out to make sure you don't start cloning something other than the background.

    With practice, you will be able to clone backgrounds that don't have uniform backgrounds, like one with various sized triangles, and get it to look natural so that no one can tell where you did touch ups.

    Removing Blemishes

    You will come across pages that have creases in them, or discoloured spots from when the magazine was printed, or discoloured edges from age. Generally, the Clone Stamp Tool is your friend here, and you can fix blemishes in the same manner that you do when filling in an edge from a crooked cut page.

    If there are specks, scratches, or spots that you want to remove, you can often use the Spot Healing Brush. Using a brush size a bit larger than the spot you want to fix will often result in the tool working the way it was intended.

    On pages that are dominantly black, you will most likely notice a lot of dust spots and such. It is up to you if you want to spend cleaning the page up. You can elect to only remove the major dust spots, or spend a lot of time removing every speck. Often you can use the Magic Wand Tool with a high tolerance (such as 64) to select the black background as well as most of the specks. Then you can either go over with a very large paintbrush or got to Edit > Fill and fill it in with the correct color. Just be careful about small text and parts of images being selected as well.

    Colour Correcting

    Chances are your scanner is not going to get the colors of the magazine 100% correct on every scan, or on any scan for that matter. Some colors it just cannot handle, like fluorescent orange. Thankfully, that colour rarely comes up. Some people like the scan to look like it's a scan of a magazine, but a scan looks better if it looks like it was meant to be read on a monitor or tablet, as though you are viewing the source file used to create the issue in question.

    We will go through the settings used for each adjustment, but chances are they will not be ideal for you if you are using a different scanner. It's best to play around with the three settings after setting them initially to see what looks best.

    The first thing we will do is adjust the levels. Create a new Action called Levels and Colour, setting the Function key to F3.

    Levels and Color

    After hitting record, hit Ctrl+S to save the file. This will give you a cropped file of the scan without any color adjustments. This will allow you to easily go back and work with the original files if you need to without having to straighten and crop the pages again. Now click on Image > Adjustments > Levels. The Levels Dialogue box comes up. You will see a histogram with three boxes underneath it with number. The goal here is to take some of the dullness away from the image. For the scanner used for the image below, that the settings that work for here are 0, 0.80, and 249 (left to right).


    Not a drastic change, but a start that will work with the other two adjustments.


    Next, with the Action still recording, click on Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Here we will reduce both Brightness and Contrast by 15.


    Again, not drastic.


    Lastly, while still recording, in the menu bar, click Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.


    Here, we will set the Saturation to 15.


    That's it. Your Actions list should now look similar to this.


    And an image that looks much better than the original. The two sides are before adjustments, and the middle is after all the adjustments.


    If the settings don't produce something that looks good to you, play around with each of them. You can always try Auto Colour (CTRL+SHIFT+B) before running the Action to see if that produces something suitable. Sometimes Auto Color works, and sometimes it doesn't; it's hit and miss.

    If you play with the settings of the Levels and Colours Action, be sure to "reset" your image before making changes. That is, start with your image in its original state before any adjustments are made. If you run the Action, and then say, tweak the levels, it is actually applying the levels twice (once during the initial running of the Action, and again when you are fiddling). So you won't get the same results on the next image by just running the Action. You can undo (ALT+CTRL+Z) repeatedly until you get to the point before you applied the action. I usually have the marquee tool around the whole image before ruing the action. That way, if I need to back track, I know I have gone far enough when I see the marquee tool surrounding my image again.

    Resizing and Saving

    This is the easy part. We'll make another Action that will save the edited TIF, resize the image, and then save it as a JPG.

    It is better if you do not stitch pages together, even though an anctual magazine always has two pages facing you. Most, if not all, readers have settings that allow you to display pages side-by-side, so for those who prefer to view the scans that way can always set their viewer to display them that way. Most people will read scanned magazines one page at a time, so having each page as its own image makes this possible.

    The general standard dimensions for a scan is 2200 pixels high at 300dpi. However, with screens having higher and higher pixel density, it's a good idea to also save a copy of your scans at full size; generally that's about 3200 pixels high at 300dpi. It is up to you if you submit a standard sized scan, or a full sized one. A full sized scan will have a significantly lager file size than a standard sized one. This portion will assume you will save both versions for future proofing. Skip the parts that do not apply to you.

    In whatever folder your scans are in, make two new folders: one called 2200, and one called Full. In Photoshop, create a new Action called Save and set the Function key to F4. The Action should now be recording.

    Save Action

    Go to Image > Image Size. Here, we are going to change the width of the image. If you scanned the pages at 600dpi, the height will be over 6000 pixels. This will give you a lot of wiggle room when reducing the resolution to 300, as you can resize the image without losing quality. So if your image is 3000 pixels after you change the dpi to 300, you can up it to 3200 pixels or 3500 without the image blurring.

    In this example the resolution is being changed to 300 and the height is being changed to 3200.

    Image Size

    Now you have an image almost the size of the original scan. The next step is to save the image as a JPG. Go to File > Save As; go into the Full folder you created, and pick JPG as the format from the drop down menu. Click Save and the JPEG Options window will pop up. Set the Quality to 9, and select Baseline ("Standard") under Format Options, and hit OK.

    JPEG Options

    With the Action still recording, go to Edit > Image Size again, and change the height to 2200 pixels. Hit OK. Next, go to File > Save As and navigate to the folder named 2200 and save the file with e same settings as before.

    After than, hit CTRL+W to Close the file, and then stop recording. You should have an Action that looks like this (the file path beside "In:"  will probably be different).

    Save Action

    Now the only keys on the keyboard that you will need for the most part are F2, F3, and F4, making the process of editing much, much quicker.

    Missing Pages

    See the section on missing pages in the "Compiling and Releasing a Magazine" guide.


    If you scanned a poster and are piecing it together, here is what to do. Open the first scan, and rotate and straighten it out. Then, increase the size of the Canvas so that you can place the remaining pieces. Chances are you won't get the poster looking perfect no matter how much you try, but that's okay – it didn't look perfect with the folds in it anyways.

    Once you have all the scans in place, flatten the image before applying any colour correction and fixing any blemishes.

    When you've got the poster looking how you want, save it as a JPG at it's current size, naming it poster01.jpg or something similar. This will be included as an extra file to go along with the .cbz file we will create shortly. You can also include it in the middle of the magazine where it was pulled out from as an "a" file (ex. 121a.jpg). Resize it to the same size as the rest of the pages and make sure it is oriented the same as the other pages (portrait).

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