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- Understanding grayscale values and channels
- Evaluating and correcting images with histograms
- Saving to different file formats
- Managing color
- Cleaning the scanner and images
- Reproducing versus assigning colors
- Recognizing contone versus dot pattern images
- Understanding bit depth
- Scanning logos and line art
- Scanning transparent film, positive or negative
- Capturing high dynamic range (HDR) scans
Skill Level Intermediate
All too often, creative people view the scanning process as not very creative intrusion into their whole creative workflow, and they just want to throw the image down in the scanner, do an autoscan, and they can't wait to get into Photoshop that can really start the creative work. But in many cases, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the scanning process meaning the decisions that you make before you scan can largely determine how creative you can be, how high-quality your image is going to be, and how easy your workflow is going to be. So in many ways, this portion of the course maybe the most fundamentally important that you may go through in the entire course and that is evaluating your images and deciding how you are going to scan your image.
And we don't just think about it in terms of just capturing the image. we always want to think about how we are going to use this image later on in the workflow and what can we do during the scanning process to facilitate what we may want to do with our image later on in the creative workflow. We have up on screen here a variety of different images representing a lot of the different scan challenges that we meet along the way. So I would like to take these images and evaluate them and I want to step you through the process that I go through when I evaluate these kinds of images. Let's start with line art images.
I want to take these two images, the Bike and the Moose, because they really represent kind of the in-members that we run into when we work with line art. On the left side, you have the bicycle, which is relatively simple line art image. On the right, we have a relatively detailed line art image of the moose. Now when I look at these two images and I say, okay, they're both line art, we maybe tempted to just put them down the scanner and just scan them as line art in Auto mode and then move on. Boy! That would be a bad decision, because both of these images have really specific things we want to do in terms of the setup and the scanning of them to give us the maximum flexibility later on in our creative workflow system.
Let's start with the Bike and talk about evaluating this image and how we want to handle it in scanner. I look at this Bike image and I say, all right, what's the important part of that image. That's the single most important question you're going to ask yourself. what do I want to focus on? Line art images like this are really all about the edges, and we've talked about this before. When we look at an image like this, this image is actually created by creating this outline and then just filling it with black. The black is completely uninteresting. That's not the important part. What the important part of this image is, is reproducing this edge.
I am thinking about during the scan, I know what the scanner captures pixels, but when I look at this, I am thinking vectors. Converting my images into vectors is going to give me the maximum amount of geometric editability and the maximum amount of edge quality, no matter how much geometric manipulation I do. So the two things I focus on in my mind capturing image like this is I want to capture this in line art mode that is 1- bit black-and-white mode and I want to use the optical resolution of this scanner which is going to minimize any edge interpolation and I want to scan this at 100%.
Even if I want to use it five times larger, I am going to scan it at 100%, because that's going to minimize interpolation as well. Then I know I am going to convert this into vectors and then I can do my geometric manipulations. So black-and-white mode, optical resolution, 100%. If I just perform an automatic scan, none of that is actually going to happen. The moose on the other hand, also a line art image, but totally different challenges. When we zoom in on this moose, look at all of that detail and we zoom in more and more, we see a lot of the detail is actually created by changes in grayscale value.
We could scan this in just straight black-and-white line art mode, but then we would lose an enormous amount of editability and creative potential later on. So when I look at this image and say what's the important part of that image, remember that key question we asked? What's the important part of this image? It's the detail. Yes, yes, the outline is important, but that's not nearly as important as what's going on in the middle as compared to the Bike image. It was going on middle is not important at all, which is just solid black. Here it's all about the detail. So how am I going to scan this image? Well, in order to capture and maintain all the detail, I am going to capture this as if it were continuous tonal grayscale image.
I'm not worried about converting this to vectors. quite the opposite. I want to scan it as pixels, leave it as pixels. You see these two images both line art we are going to handle completely differently to give us the maximum amount of quality and editability later on in the scanning process. Now let's move on to a true continuous tone image where you and I would normally consider to be a continuous tone image. Let's take a look at my best buddy, Zip here, my Cardigan Welsh corgi. I look at this image and I say, what's the important part of this image? Well, obviously, it's the foreground.
We want to get Zip. When I look at Zip what are the key parts of this? First of all, he's got some beautiful white fur and so I want to make sure that I capture that. It looks bright white, but I want to make darn sure that I capture all of the detail that's there. So I am thinking, all right, I am going to focus on that white highlight. Since it's a grayscale image, it's going to come out to be neutral any way. So I am going to focus on making sure that I don't blow out that white highlight, because it could be easy to do. What's another important part of this image? Well, I've got some dark shadow areas in here in the fur and I want to make sure that I maintain shadow detail there.
So I am going to make sure when I scan this that I don't fill in no shadow details. There is another really important part of this image. There is lots of fine detail, look at his whiskers, look at the beautiful fur. So I am thinking I want to focus on, on the sharpening of this image. I want to bring out the sharpness, but not too much. So in this image, it's the white highlights, the dark shadows, and the detail that's going to be important. We are not going to maximize all that by going into Auto mode. That's for darn sure. So that's Zip in a continuous tonal grayscale image. Let's look at another grayscale image with kind of different challenges certainly different composition.
This is the photograph I took of waves on Surfers Beach and this is on Kodiak Island, south of where I live in Alaska. I look at this image and I say what's the important part?. Well, again, it's the foreground. the foreground is very important here and that's where I am going to focus a lot of my efforts. We will talk a little bit about the background, but it's really all about the foreground. And what's the major portion of focus of this image? Well, it's the white spray and here again, just like the white fur with Zip, I want to make sure that I get all of the detail here, but because there's so much white, we have the potential of blowing out this white detail and it just goes flat, and then when you lose that three-dimensional nature of the waves.
Then at the other end of the spectrum in the shadows, here and here in the dark part of the wave, there is texture in here. We don't want that to go flat either. So just like with the Zip image highlights and shadow details are important, but the highlights are just a paramount importance in this image in maintaining them. Then we look in the background, we want to make sure that if there is any shadow detail back here to be maintained. So in this image, we are going to find out where the lightest whites are, where the darkest darks, where the detail is, and make sure that those are maintained. Sharpness is important here, but we would want to make sure we don't oversharpen.
We would probably want to sharpen the Zip image more than we'd want to do this one, because if you oversharpen this image, I am afraid that some of the spray will get harsh, and there is power in the spray but there is also subtlety and texture and fine texture that deserves a little bit of softness. None of these things were addressed when we go into an Auto mode in scanning. Once we have ruined the highlights and shadow details, once we've oversharpen this too much, we can never get that back working inside of Photoshop. So these are all critical evaluation images. Let's take a look at the color version of the same image.
All the same qualities, all the same characteristics, the things that are important. the highlights, and the shadow details, maintaining the power, and the definition of the spray, sharpening but not too much, but in the color version, we have an additional issue that we need to worry about is we want to make sure the surf is white. In the black-and-white version, it's always going to be white. But if this image and a lot of images that are shot during the day have a little bit of blue colorcast in them, we want to make sure we remove that blue colorcast. We get nice bright white spray that's going to create beautiful contrast in this image, and we scan this image, we want to make sure that we're worrying about color balance as well as highlights and shadow details.
Our final image to talk about is another color image and this is another wonderful portrait by Lucas Deming of Kim and when we look at this image, again, we ask yourselves what are the important parts of this. Well, in an image like this, one of the first things I ask myself is, is this a portrait or is this a product shot? This is a product shot for the shirt or for the jacket. That's kind of a different focus than the portrait. Well, this happens to be a portrait. So when I look at an image like this, one of the first things I think about is skin is of paramount importance.
So we want to make sure that the color balance of the skin is very important and we also want to make sure that we have good enough sharpness of things like the eyes and the eyebrows and the hair, but not so much sharpness so that we start creating any modeling in the skin. So then this image very different than all the others, the skin is really the focus and in this case, because it's a color image, the color balance is going to be important and the amount of detail that we bring out is going to be important as well. Now there are some additional characteristics that we want to worry about here. We do have a nice diffuse white highlight here in the white shirt probably somewhere and we may have some shadow detail that we want to maintain in the jacket.
If there's not shadow detail here, it's not critical in this image, because it's not a product shot, it's a portrait shot. Finally, because it is a portrait, we will want to make sure we maintain shadow detail in the hair. So we will want to look at all that. So you think you can see from our discussion that the evaluation of our images deciding what's important is so critical to having a good successful scans. Remember, if we don't capture the correct things and emphasize the correct things during the scan we lose and we never get them back inside of Photoshop.
So we can see from our discussion how very important evaluating our images is. It really sets up where we are going to go in our scanning workflow and gives us the maximum editability and maximum quality for images later on in our entire creative workflow.