Cleaning Inked Scans for Digital Finishing

Cleaning Inked Scans for Digital Finishing

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Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact. I write weekly posts on and on CSP Tips, so be sure to come back every week to learn more Clip Studio Tips and Tricks from me!

This article is somewhat of a continuation of last week’s article, which was all about scanning pencil pieces and preparing them to be digitally inked. In this tutorial we’ll be taking a drawing that’s been inked with a pen, scanning it, and getting it cleaned and prepped for digital coloring or other finishing.

In this article we will cover the following topics:
Scanning Your Image
Adjusting and Cleaning Your Scan

Let’s go ahead and get started!



Scanning Your Image


For this step, you’ll need an inked drawing and a scanner. It is possible to do this with a photo of your inked image, but it can be difficult to get a good enough picture. You will need to make sure your image is well-lit and that you take the photo from completely straight on to avoid distortion.

Below is the inked image that I made for this article. It is drawn on 12x9 sketchbook paper and inked with a Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen. Make sure to let your ink dry completely before erasing your pencil lines, or you may smudge your line art!



Now I’m going to take my sketch over to my scanner. First, I like to take a clean cloth and wipe the scanner glass off to minimize any dust or hair that might end up in my scan. This is most important when scanning finished pieces, but still a good habit to get into.


Lay your sketch down on the scanner glass. The next steps will depend entirely on your scanner. I’m using an all-in-one scanner/printer/copier by Canon. For this model, I simply need to tap Scan on the touchscreen and then adjust the settings to my preferred ones. Your scanner may be different, so be sure to consult the manual for your model.

Below are the settings I used for my scanner. I usually scan as JPG files and will scan a minimum of 300dpi.


Once the settings are the way I want them, I tell my scanner to start scanning by pressing the button. I know the scanner is working when I see the following message on my computer screen.


Now that the sketch is scanned, it’s time to open it in Clip Studio Paint and get it ready for digital finishing!



Adjusting and Cleaning Your Scan


Now that we have our scanned JPG, it’s time to clean it up and get ready to color it digitally. Below is my raw scan the way that my scanner processed it.


The first thing to do is rotate the canvas so that the image isn’t sideways. To do this, go to Edit - Rotate/Flip Canvas then choose which direction your canvas needs to rotate. Mine needs to go 90 degrees clockwise, so that’s what I’ll choose.


Now the image is the right way around, but there’s a lot of empty space around the drawing that I don’t want on my finished piece. So to get rid of it we’re going to crop the canvas to get rid of the extra space around the edge. Take the rectangle selection tool and draw around the part of your image that you want to keep.


Once you’ve made your selection, go to Edit - Crop to get rid of the unsightly edges. In the case of this scan, it also saves us a bunch of clean-up by getting rid of the darker areas at the top edge!


The sketchbook paper I drew this image on is more of a tan color than white, so the scan turned out pretty yellow. If I’d thought about this a little further in advance, I could have done the scan in black instead of color. But that’s okay, because we’re going to adjust the levels to make the paper more white and also turn the lines darker so they’re black instead of gray.

To access the Level Correction window, click on Edit - Tonal Correction - Level Correction, shown below.



Now we need to manipulate the little arrows at the bottom of each graph until our scan looks better. Make sure the Preview box is checked so you can see what the changes will look like in real time as you move the controls around.

In the screenshot below, I didn’t make any changes in the Output graph at all. But in the Input graph I’ve moved all three of the “^” marks at the bottom closer in toward each other. The left arrow got moved significantly to the right, with the other two arrows getting adjusted just a little bit. Depending on your scan, your adjustment will be different. Just move the arrows around until your scan has a nice contrast. If you don’t like the results you can always click Cancel or Undo!


With the Level Correction done, you can see below that now our scan has a white background and the inked lines are nice and dark.


While doing this adjustment, you will probably start to see some flaws in your scan in the form of specks and dirt that are scattered around. If you look in the center of the image below you will see quite a few dark specks on this character’s arm, and lots of tiny ones in the background area above the arm.


These specks are usually from dirt and dust on the scanner glass, imperfections in the paper, or from bits of unerased pencil or eraser crumbs. Thank goodness we’re going to digitally edit all of these out so it doesn’t matter!

For this I like to zoom in quite a bit so the details are easier to see. In the close-up below you can see that there’s quite a bit of “garbage” around the fur lines where the pencil probably wasn’t erased fully.



Grab a pen tool of your choice and use the Eyedropper to pick up the background color of your image. (This should be white but you may have a slightly off-white color that only looks white. If this is the case, when you use pure white on it your edits might be visible. Selecting the precise color of the background prevents this!) Then, using the pen tool of your choice, carefully draw over the bits of dust and unerased pencil lines to get rid of them.

Note: There is a Remove Dust tool in Clip Studio Paint that can make this process a little faster, but it’s not 100% reliable. I tried it with this image and though it did remove quite a bit of the dark spots from the background area, the area in the above screenshot was largely unaffected, so I had to use the pen tool and do this correction manually anyway. That's okay though, because I needed to clean up the ends of some of my messy inked lines anyway!


Use your favorite pen or drawing tools to continue cleaning up your lines. Then you can either add colors using layers with Multiply blending modes, or quickly convert your scan to black lines with a transparent background.

To quickly change your white areas to transparent, go to Edit - Convert brightness to opacity, shown below.


A moment later, CSP will turn the brightest areas completely transparent while leaving the darkest areas (in this case, our inks) opaque!


Now you can add colors, backgrounds, screentones, or whatever else you want to finish your project!





Even though most of us probably do the bulk of our work digitally, it’s still a good idea to know how to do things “the old fashioned way” as well. With these techniques, you can make your traditionally inked images look just as good as your digitally inked ones!

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