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In this course, photographer and scanning expert Taz Tally describes how to use the LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast software to scan photos, line art, film negatives, and other printed documents, while getting the highest quality scans possible from your scanner. The course begins with an overview of SilverFast, then takes a task-oriented look at the SilverFast automatic and manual scanning modes, showing numerous scanning projects from start to finish. The course also explores a variety of specialized scanning topics, such as removing color casts and scratches, High Dynamic Range (HDR) scanning, and wet scanning.
In this video, I'd like to show you how to scan a color portrait using the Manual interface in SilverFast. First, before we get started, I would like to encourage you to first view the manual scanning of a color landscape. With that foundation information, you will really be able to understand a lot better what I'm going to be doing here, because I am going to really move on to show you some additional tools, as well as use some previously used ones in the landscape scan. So, here we have a portrait. Let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit on this portrait and then talk about what we're going to be doing, and I am just going to take my two corners and tuck them right up underneath here. I am going to click my Magnification tool.
It's always a good idea to click that Magnification tool, because if your image is small, you see how we had some edges and so forth, you can really see your frame a lot better once you zoom in a little bit. So when we're scanning color portraits, we have some of the same fundamental issues that we do with all images. Two of those fundamentals of highlight and shadow, and brightness and contrast, we have another very critical element when we're talking about color portraits, and that is skin tones. Now, you're probably thinking, oh my gosh, well, how do you know how to do a skin tone. I mean, a white shirt is a white shirt.
You make it neutral, you make it 242, 242, 242, everybody goes home and you're happy. With skin tones, there are so many different skin tones among human beings. But there's one thing that's common to all people with skin who are human anyway. If you're a Cardassian or Klingon, all bets are off. But for humans, red is greater than green is greater than blue, and all you need to remember is RGB. I'll fine-tune the ratios when we get into and actually look at the values. And then we'll talk about Sharpening. So in this image, we know it's all about skin tones but we also want to make sure that the highlights and shadows get well taken care of.
And the simple truth is, on most photographs, whether it's a digital camera or a scan like this, if you get the highlights and the shadows correct, everything else starts to fall in the place. So you never want to start with the skin tone, you want to start with highlights and shadows. Now, in this image, when we visually evaluate this image, we're going to start with our Densitometer. We're going to move our Densitometer over here, because we're always going to use that when we're scanning images, because it gives us quantitative assurance that what we're doing is the right thing, no doubt about it. And like we did before, we're going to click here to see where the lightest portion of the image is, and sure enough, it's in the shirt.
And the reason why we click there first is we want to see if there is a specular highlight, that is, one that's blown out and is supposed to be too light. And if it's there, then we're going to click somewhere else. But we don't have the specular highlight here. The highlight we have in this image is the honest-to-goodness diffuse white highlight, and we want to make sure that that shirt looks bright white, but we maintain detail. So second point is the shadow, and we see where the shadow is, so that whole portion of the jacket is going to fall into the range of shadow, but the darkest portion is right down there.
So we're going to set our highlights and shadow sample points by clicking on the white point, and it sets it right there in the lightest point of the shirt, and click on the shadow, and it sets it down there. And then of course we're immediately going to look at our RGB values and evaluate them. And we look here at the RGB, two things that we're looking for; one, they should be pretty darn close to equal within one or two points only, and then, if this is a bright white highlight which it is, we want to set it around 5% white highlight; 242, 242, 242. And remember, just quickly going back to our Preferences, when we get to our Automatic tool, remember that's how we set our white highlight here. It was at 5%, and then 95% shadow.
So then, we've got two color sampler points, and then the other critical color sampler point here is going to be in the skin tone. And when you place a color sampler point in the skin tone, you want to be careful where you place it. You don't want to place it in a place where you've got lots of changes and contrast going on, and you don't want to place it in the shadow region like over here. You want to place it on a well lit portion of the face. Unless of course the entire face is in shadow but since most of this face is well lit, we're going to place at least one color sampler point on her face. Typically, I like to place at least two if I can. I am going to place one color sampler point here, and the way we do this is hold down the Shift key, and then click, and then I am going to place one up here on the forehead, and then click.
So now we've got four color sampler points; one for highlight, one for shadow, and then two for our skin tones. So before we talk in more detail about the skin tones, let's go ahead and set our highlights and shadows. In the landscape image, I showed you how to use the Histogram tool to go ahead and set your highlights and shadows. When we look at the histograms here, we will use those as an evaluation tool, you can see that we've got lots of room between the highlight data and the true 255. And we can see that here, look at the bright white highlight is at 216, 213, 216. And when we look at the ratio of these values, how close are they? They're pretty darn close, aren't they? 216, 213, 216 they're only three points apart.
So it's only about a third of a percent difference. And when we look at the histogram, we see they were almost perfectly lined up, both in the highlight and in the shadow end. So we're close to neutral, but we're a little dark. So what are we going to do? The new tool that I want to show you here is the Pipette tool, and that's right here. This can speed your work up, making you more efficient rather than having to do everything manually just looking at the histograms. I still encourage you to use the histogram to help you evaluate your image and then see what happens when you're editing it. But this is a little bit faster tool, and if you know how to use it, it can be very powerful. That's why I want to start you with the foundation using Histograms.
We can choose White Point, Black Point, or if there's some other Neutral Point. We're going to choose White Point and Black Point for this image; White Point and then I am just going to come click right over here and click right there, boom! And notice what happens, the RGB values change, 243, 243, 243. Now they're right on the money, and notice that our histogram has now lined up completely. So when you click with that Pipette tool, it adjusts the histogram, just like we would have done manually. Let's take the Pipette tool again, let's go to the Black Point, and let's click on the Black Point, boom! And notice how again on the Histogram, it moves the histograms up, but it does the individual channels just like we did during the landscape.
But it's doing it for you in a one step process, so it's much easier. I didn't show you this first because I want you to understand what's going on in the histogram and with the data, because sometimes, if you click in the wrong place, you get real crazy results. You want to make sure that you're clicking on the white diffuse highlight, and you're clicking on a neutral shadow. Remember, if this is a shadow, and you don't want to be neutral, you don't use the Pipette tool, you're going to come over here, and do it manually. Just kind of like we did with the manual adjustment of the shadow and of the landscape on the wave, we kept that color cast on the wave to keep that blue-green look.
Understanding how all these tools work is critically important to be able to use them correctly and effectively. Now, let's discuss skin tones. I mentioned earlier that Red should be greater than Green should be greater than Blue. And when we look at these tonal values here, Red, Green, and Blue, sure enough, Red is greater than Green is greater than Blue. And we could have predicted that, unless the monitor is way, way off, that's a pretty good looking skin tone. But now, let's talk just a little bit more quantitatively about this. Is there any sort of ratios we should be looking for between these values? And yes, the amount of separation between Red and Green should be greater than the separation between Green and Blue. And notice that between Blue and Green, we have about 20 points of separation, 22 points. And between Green and Red, we have over 40 points.
So there is almost double the amount, in fact a little bit more than double the amount. That's about the maximum that you'd ever want on the skin tone. The maximum difference between Red- Green, and Green-Blue should only be two times that amount, and here it's just about two times. You might decide that you want to back off on that Red just a little bit, and you could do that, and I will show you how to do that in just a minute. But we're good on the skin tones. Notice that how setting the highlight and the shadow, the skin tones fall into place, and they were okay to begin with. One other thing that I want to mention is notice that we didn't set a color sampler point on the teeth? Most teeth have a little bit of yellow cast to them.
So you really shouldn't use teeth to set your white highlights and some people have a tendency to do that and then the image looks really unhuman. So there we go for the basic correction of the image. What I want to do now is talk about what we might do in terms of overall brightness and contrast. So we go to the Gradation tool, just like we've done before, just like we did with the landscape. So here's the Brightness, moving the midtone, and here we can raise it to brighten the image just a little bit, we can lower it to lower the brightness if you want, make it a little bit darker. And it really kind of depends upon the nature of the original image and what look you are looking for.
If you want a little bit brighter look, you can move it up. If you want to move it down just a little, a little bit darker. I happen to like a little bit of a darker look here, and you know why? Because it brings up the saturation in her hair, I love the saturation in her hair when it's a little bit darker. Notice that we're just moving the Midtone, the Highlights and Shadow points remain between 5 and 95. That's the value of using a curve because you've maintained the Highlights, and Shadow points. Because it's so important, I am going to repeat. Don't ever use this Brightness slider here because it moves the entire curve and you can see what it does to the image, it's just very bad all the way around.
Always use this one, the Midtone curve, because it maintains the Highlights and Shadow points. So I am going to just darken this overall a little bit, and then let's talk about contrast for portraits. If you remember our discussion of Zip, we talked about how you can increase contrast. When we do this on a portrait, it makes everything a little bit too stark, plus things like wrinkles on people's faces, you don't want to be emphasizing those. No sir! For a portrait, we're going to back off, do just a little bit of a reverse S. So we're darkening the quarter tone, lightening the three-quarter tone. That's how I would scan it with the exception of the Sharpening which we'll finish up with in just a minute.
What I want to do now is show you the Auto Correction version. So I am going to click Auto Correct, and see what the SilverFast software does. And notice that SilverFast sets the Highlight at 242. And let's go down to the Expert tool here, and notice that we've got Color Cast Removal here. And it did a good job on the highlight, notice on the shadow end, 13, 17, 33. It didn't quite neutralize that, did it? So you can see the software is pretty good, does a good job, but didn't quite neutralize that.
We actually did a better job working on our own, but it did a pretty good job. And by the way, with this Color Cast, when working in the Expert Settings in the Histogram, you can back off on the Color Cast Removal if you want to. It doesn't have a lot of impact on this image, but you can take it off altogether if you would like. Typically, I just leave it on because it does a pretty darn good job, but I think we actually did a better job on the shadow here. Now, let's go to the Gradation tool and see what the software did. Notice that what the software did is it actually brightened the image.
It's not a wrong interpretation, it's just a different interpretation. Remember, what we ended up doing was actually darkening it a little bit because we wanted a little bit better color saturation. And we backed off on the contrast just a little bit just to soften it. So it did a little bit different interpretation. But you know what, this Auto Correction is a great learning tool, and I would encourage you to use it, evaluate it, see what the software does. It has lots to teach us. And it doesn't mean you have to agree with it all the time, just like we don't here. Good! So there's doing a portrait, and you learned a new tool, you learned the Pipette tool that can really speed things up for you, which is very nice. And you've got another chance to evaluate some histograms.
The more you do that, the more comfortable you're going to be. And then let's finish up our discussion with the Unsharp Mask tool. And you would decide whether you want to apply the Sharpening to the scan or wait till you do it in Photoshop. I tend do it in Photoshop after the scan, because I almost always end up doing some fine-tuning in Photoshop for whatever reason. But if you want SilverFast to do the whole process, and it's very good at it, it's very capable, that's just fine to do that. Let's look at the default settings of 100, 1.0, and a Threshold of 1.0, that means 100% increase in the contrast, along high contrast edges. Remember this is just like the Amount in Photoshop, Unsharp Mask.
A Radius of 1.0, and I rarely work in continuous tone images at 300 pixels per inch which is how we'll set this. I rarely use anything other than Radius of 1.0. Working with line art sometimes, I use something other than that, but not continuous tone images. Thresholds, well, the default is 1.0, we're working with skin tone here and I want to make sure that we don't do too much sharpening on the skin tones. So I am going to raise this up to between 2 and 3. I want to make sure we keep the Sharpening applied to the high contrast edges like the eyebrows and the teeth, and the hair, and not so much on the skin itself.
And in terms of the Expert tools here, once again, and particularly because we've got a jacket that has some pretty flat dark colors, I am going to back off my Sharpening, and I am going to take that to 90%. Sometimes even go down to 85, so that Sharpening is not going to be applied to the jacket. And if there are any soft shadows here, and we do, we have a little bit of a shadow over here, turn that on, and then any real flat dark areas will not have the Sharpening applied to it. We'll go ahead and we will apply the Sharpening here and the Unsharp Mask tool and then, finally, let's go back up to the Scan dimensions dialog box and make sure we have that set up correctly.
We've already set our Frame which is good. And remember, with the Expert tool you can get your dimensions exactly the way you want them. We won't take time to do that here, I have already gone over that. Let's go ahead and name this. And we're going to name this Kim. And then we're going to call this RGB, and then 300, and then as always, we're going to save this out as a TIFF if we're going right to print, or a .PSD if we intend to edit this in Photoshop. And then my recommendation is to make copies and save them out in other file formats for other uses. So there we go! Make sure we get it going where we want it to go in terms of the path, 300 pixels per inch, Photo Quality, and, like always, we are ready to scan.
So let's go ahead, and click the Scan button, and once again of course, we will monitor the Scanner status. We see here that sure enough we're still warming up. And after the scan is complete, you just click on the Open image button, and boom! It opens that image up in Photoshop and you see this nice beautiful scan we've got of Kim. Nice, bright white highlights, good maintained shadow detail, you can see the lapel here, nice skin-tone, nice color saturation, and good sharpening, but not oversharpening on the skin.
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