Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, Addendum A: Sample Photoshop Actions

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A guide to creating the best looking line art in print in the new digital print world

Addendum A:
Sample Photoshop Actions

This is the twenty-ninth and final regular installment of Paper to Pixel to Paper Again, a series that explains (in an overly thorough manner) the how-to's of preparing line art for print.

And as always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!


Oh, hey, after twenty-nine mostly-weekly installments, the series is over! What's that sound? Is it birdsong? The sweet bells of freedom? Oh, no, it's the sound of... 

A Bunch of Useful Photoshop Actions

Here's a link to a sampling of Photoshop Actions for you to download, dissect, and generally play around with.

Each of these Actions was used at one point or another to produce a book or comic for Aardvark/Vanaheim, and although most of them wouldn't be useful to you as-is—unless you're using the same scanner for the same purposes!—it's my hope that, coupled with the series itself, they'll be useful in developing your skills in prepress for line art.

Let's take a quick look at them. Notice these are in no particular order—

A. sample "color original to line art" script

This is an example of the process one might use to take a 600 ppi color scan and end up with a line art original. In this case, this is the script I used for Gerhard's scans of his Jaka's Story originals, scanned on an Epson 10000XL. Nothing remains after this but cleaning up the page and saving it into the correct folder, where it will eventually be bitmap-converted.

The only real oddity in this example is the bit of blurring at the top of the script. This is to counteract the hint of sharpening had been applied during the scanning stage. (Better to just not sharpen until you've upscaled, as we've discussed many times in the series!)

B. sample dotgain reversal script

This is an example script of how to uniformly shrink a clogged print scan. I use this script pretty often during Cerebus in Hell? print production, as well as for the Cerebus Volume One January 2017 restoration (though with different Levels values on each page, depending on the source material)

C. sample newsprint script pt 1 and 2

I've worked with newsprint scans so many different ways at this point, but this is the latest, used for the few Jaka's Story pages sourced (partially or wholly) from newsprint. Straighten the page, run the first script, then make your levels adjustments to darken the blacks and run the second script. Then selectively sharpen and Levels adjust to completion. 

Newsprint printings (and thus scans of newsprint printings) have so much variety from page to page and even from panel to panel that I found it a waste of time to script the work. These are really just minimal scripts that do the setup required and let you have maximum flexibility for the final stages.

D. noise grabber

This is a trick Lou Copeland taught me that's very helpful in cleaning up newsprint. Use the Magic Wand tool to select a large area—say, the outside area of a page or some blacks—and then run this script, which expands a certain amount, and then contracts slightly less. In effect it swallows up low-level noise into your selection and then allows you to clean with a lot more freedom. Give it a whirl.

E. sample "flatten to bitmap" script

This is an example of a very simple script saving you boatloads of time. Make one like this in order to update your bitmaps when you make corrections for your book.

F. sample COLOR output sharpening script

This is the script I used to output files for Tim's all-color-original Cerebus hard covers. Simple output sharpening combined with some levels adjustments.

G. density test

If you'd like to find out what the density of the screen tone is on a page you're working on, run this script, and then bring up the eyedropper (E) tool and wave it over the area of tone in question. The density should appear in the Info box. After, Undo twice (Ctrl-Shift-Z twice).

H. convert 2400 1-bit to 300 ppi 8-bit

This script makes ideal on-screen versions of high-res line art, using a special procedure involving gaussian blur prior to downsampling.

Hope you enjoy!

Next: Another addendum on...color art with high-res line art? Something else entirely?

Sean Michael Robinson is a writer, artist, and musician. See more at LivingtheLine.com.

1 comment:

Carson Grubaugh said...

I am going to use the shit out of "H"!

All hail the wizard.