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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques! This week, I'm going to show you how to take scanned pencil sketches and turn them into digital ink inside Photoshop. Now as an example I offer you this, when I was a kid I used to do this kind of frame-by-frame comic strip; mostly as an act of self-preservation, don't you know, and it was called Jerk & Jello, and the idea is it's the escapades of the stick figure against this gigantic blob. And there's no dialogue or anything like that, it's just fight, fight, fight, but tragically they all got confiscated by the teachers.
And so I was relaying the story to my sons, telling them that this is something I did at their age, and they wanted to see one, so I drew one up. But I just used pencil; I had to desire to use ink for this project, instead what I decided to do was scan the artwork into Photoshop and then clean it up and turn it into, as I say, digital ink inside that program, which is a heck of a lot easier than applying manually. Here, let me show you exactly how it works.
Just so you can see everything on screen, here is the original version of the scanned pencil sketch, looking just awful, with all kinds of garbage in the background. Here is the version that we're going to create in this movie, with a nice black pencil lines, and of course the background cleaned up as well, and some redrawn details, and so forth. And then in a future movie I'll show you how to set this whole thing against a graph paper background, with these heavy horizontal lines that help us to better follow the frames so that we're more aware of the narrative associated with the cartoon. So I'm going to switch back to my original pencil image and I'm going to scroll in on this detail here.
And you can see that I've scrolled into 300%, but what I want you to note more than anything else is, not only do we have some very weak shadow details, but they are very colorful as well. So the scanner has made up all this color inside of this RGB image. And if you were to check out the Channel information there in the Channels panel, you would see that the Red Channel and the Green Channel are in much better shape than the Blue Channel. So what we're going to do is deepen up the blacks inside of the image, as well as remove the color by combining just the Red and the Green Channels, using a Channel Mixer Adjustment layer.
So if you're working along with me, press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then click on this little Black/White icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose the Channel Mixer command. Because you have the Alt or Option key down, that invokes a New Layer dialog box, go ahead and call this layer B&W and click OK. Then here inside the Properties panel in CS6, this would be the Adjustments panel, and CS5 and earlier, turn on the Monochrome check box and that will immediately remove the color from the image, as you can see here. And now we're mixing, notice this, by default 40% Red, along with 40% Green, and 20% Blue, which adds up to a total of a 100%.
So we're maintaining a consistent luminance level. We want that Blue out of there, so take that down to 0. And then normally what you do is compensate for the 0% Blue by taking both the Red and Green values up to 50% a piece, so we still have 100%. But what I want to do is darken the darkest colors, which are currently gray. So I'm going to crank this Constant value down to -200, so now we have 100% -200%, so we have -100% luminance, which leaves the entire image black. What we need to do is add that 200% across the Red and Green values, so we'll split it in half and turn Red into 150%, so we're adding 100%, and then we'll turn Green into 150% as well.
And now we've brought back our whites, and we've made those grays nice and black. That's the way you do it when you're scanning a very low contrast pencil sketch. If we were working with a pen and ink drawing, these same values would still work, although you might want to back them off a little bit. Completely up to you. I'm going to go ahead and zoom out by pressing Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac, and I'm going to zoom in on another location inside this image, this area where Jello is getting very angry indeed, as you can see.
You may note that we still don't have really great black details, so I'm going to add another adjustment layer by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, clicking the Black/White icon and then choosing Levels this time around. Again, that will bring up the New Layer dialog box, I'll go ahead and call this new layer blacks and click OK. And then inside the Levels dialog box we want to go ahead and make anything that's medium gray or darker black by taking the black point value up to 128, and then you can leave the other two values alone. This assumes, by the way, that your background is absolutely white, as it is in my case.
All right, now I'm going to hide the Properties panel. Another remaining problem, in case you can't see it there, is all of these horrifying JPEG artifacts. So this particular consumer scanner gave me two options for saving the scanned image; either JPEG or PDF, which you would think would work better, but still goes ahead and applies JPEG compression. So we need to get rid of those compression artifacts using a filter, which means we want to go ahead and convert our scan to a Smart Object, because that way we can apply the filter as a Smart Filter.
In my case I'm going to click on the background, because that's my scan, to make it active. Then I'll double-click on it to bring up the New Layer dialog box, and I'll call this layer scan and click OK. Then I'll go up to the upper left corner of the Layers panel, click on the flyout menu icon and choose Convert to Smart Object. Now at this point we can apply Smart Filters and the filter we want to apply is here under the Filter menu, then you go down to Noise, and then you choose this command Despeckle, and I want you to watch what happens on screen. We go from all this weird random noise around the edges to just about nothing. Almost everything goes away.
The problem is that we gummed up the blacks. So this is before, by the way, and this is after. The solution is to scroll down to the bottom of the Layers panel and double-click on the little slider icons to the right of the word Despeckle in order to bring up the Blending Options dialog box, and then change the Mode from Normal to Lighten, and that will bring back our blacks while still hiding those compression artifacts. Then click OK. I'll turn off the Smart Filters; this is before. I'll zoom in here, and then if I turn the Smart Filters back on; this is after.
Now if you still feel like the JPEG artifacts are too extreme, you can apply a second helping of Despeckle if you like. However, I will tell you that starts to erode the blacks and you're going to be left with more fragile line details. Now I'll press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac to once again zoom out. We need to clean up some of the edges here. You can see now very clearly that the paper was scooted up into the left a little bit, so we're seeing the area around the page in the background, along with a little bit of a shadow. To clean those up, click on that blacks layer, which is that Levels Adjustment layer, press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac to create a new layer, and I'm going to call this one cover-up and then click OK.
And using the Rectangular Marquee tool, I'm going to drag down like so in order to select that right side of the image, taking care not to drag over any portions of the artwork. And then I'll Shift+drag like so, and I'm going to press the Spacebar key in order to move that marquee down just a little bit, because I don't want to cover up this impact line right there. I'll drag all the way over to the right-hand side so that we're selecting both the bottom and right side of the image. I'll present the D key to make sure my background color is white, as by default, and then I'll press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac to fill that area with white.
Press Ctrl+1 or Command+1 on the Mac to zoom into 100%, and then you press the Home key near your numerical keypad in order to scroll to the top left corner of the image. And then you look for junk and you select it, like this is garbage right there, and this is some more garbage. You select both areas and then you press Ctrl+ Backspace or Command+Delete to fill them with white. This guy needs to go as well. Then to scroll over one screen you press Ctrl+Page Down, that would be Command+Page Down on the Mac.
Everything looks okay here, so I'll press Ctrl+Page Down or Command+Page Down again, and I see this bit of garbage, and I'll press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac to fill that with white. Now I want to go down, so I've gone over one row of screen images, now I want to go down one screen by pressing Page Down by itself. And that is quite the goober right there; something big and grimy on the glass I'm guessing. So I'll select it again with the Rectangular Marquee and I'll press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac to fill it with white. And then we want to go the other direction, Ctrl+Page Up or Command+Page Up on the Mac, looks like that guy right there needs to go, and then Ctrl+Page Up or Command+Page Up again, everything is looking pretty good here, I think.
Page Down in order to go to the next row. Then Ctrl+Page Down or Command+Page Down on the Mac and we've got this weird line, and so this time I'm going to paint away the debris using the Brush tool. And I'll press the X key to switch the foreground color to white this time, and then I'll just go ahead and paint in white, and even though this isn't necessarily the world's best piece of artwork here, we do want to take it easy and make sure that we don't harm any of the good details. So I'm just trying to paint above Jello's face and his tongue, and so forth, and taking care not to harm things.
This looks like something that needs to go away right there. Since I'm already armed with a brush, I might as well keep painting. Then I'll press Ctrl+Page Up or Command+Page Up on the Mac in order to scroll along the bottom of the image here, and I'm going to reduce the size of my brush and paint that guy in and then press Ctrl+Page Up or Command+Page Up once more. I'm now looking at the bottom left corner of the image. I've got a bit of a problem there, so I'll press the M key to select my Rectangular Marquee tool, select that region, and press Alt+Backspace or Option+ Delete on the Mac to fill it with white.
I'll zoom all the way out here. And I want you to notice this row right here, frames 9-13, you can see that the whole thing starts, because Jerk kicks what he thinks is a rock, and it turns out to be a compressed version of Jello, who starts to emerge and then get very angry. And I felt like this area right here, it just looks like a crumpled up piece of paper. So I went ahead and did a little bit of hand drawing in order to fix things. So I'll go ahead and zoom in on these details here. If you turn on a couple of layers higher in the stack, there's hand erase, which is the layer of white that I just brushed in.
And so I brushed inside of these crumpled up Jellos there in order to cover up the faces. And then I created this redrawn details layer in which I painted with black in order to add some new details, as you're seeing here. We can see more of the face. My point being that you can make any kinds of modifications in Photoshop to your artwork that you want. Notice also this guy right here, this Jello, the right half of his face was initially missing. If I turn off redrawn details, you can see that he got cut off right there, and that's because actually I just didn't draw, I ran out of paper at that location.
So I'll go ahead and turn redrawn details back on. However, I'm not happy with his eyes, they could be in better shape. So I'll just go ahead and draw those in front of you so you can get a sense of what's going on here. And I'm going to do so using a Wacom tablet. So I'll start off by clicking on hand erase, because I want to paint-away the details first. White is my foreground color. I'll press the B key to switch to the Brush tool, and then I'll just go ahead and paint in white, like so, in order to paint away that weird thing underneath his eye, and we want to paint back some of the eye there.
And then I want to paint away this area inside the eye, and then paint this thing way underneath his eyes, so that we have some cleaner details. And then I'll switch to redrawn details, that's the layer of black paint, and I'll press the X key so that I can paint with black this time round, and I'll just go ahead and draw some lines under his eyes, like so. So he's still terribly vicious and angry and the whole number, and of course Jerk is just scared silly over here. If I wanted to do a better job on Jerk, I could like paint in his head so he doesn't have a hole in it, but I actually find that sort of scribbly drawing style to be charming, so I'll just go ahead and leave that alone.
And then I'll paint in a bigger eye right there. And then I'll just go ahead and press the X key, while the redrawn details layer is still selected, and I'll paint in a little bit of white at that location. That's probably a little too much highlight, so I'll press the X key to switch to black again and paint some of that highlight away, like so. And then I'll add some furrows to his brow. All right, now obviously you could spend some more time cleaning up your artwork if you want to, but at a certain point you will reach a point of diminishing returns. And there is of course the idea that if you paint too much inside of Photoshop, you might as well have painted the entire artwork that way.
All right, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac in order to zoom out, press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode so that we can see the entirety of the cartoon, at least from frames 1-33. Who knows what ends up happening after this point?
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