Now, the follow process that I've made my routine is not what I've been doing since the beginning. I've made progress from the early days of Epilogue of Eva, where I really only cleaned certain text fixes (And those clouds on the one song page we translated, booooooy they were a pain in my ass). It's actually only been recently that I've picked up some tips from blogs here and there, so feel free to comment if you yourself have some pointers that you feel I would benefit from.
I'd like to not really structure this as a tutorial, there are far better resources out there that would be better references; This really more of an overview.
Let's start with a page from one of our latest releases, Luminous Mushrooms. There might be a few examples I'll pull from some other releases, but let's stick with this for now.
Here's a look at the page in its raw form:
I actually scanned this doujin myself and I like to not have any of the edges of the page clipped off, so that's why you'll see the ripped edge of the page on the side. You'll notice that this page is rather large, it's a good thing. It's better to compress rather than enlarge, which ought to be a proverb in the scanning community lol.
Our next step is to do some basic adjustments to the page before really getting into the meat of cleaning. First up is making sure that the page is straight and in this case it's probably not (I don't have the best scanner in the world). The best way to do this is by using the square selection tool to check to see if the page is indeed crooked, then using the ruler tool on a straight line. Rotate the page arbitrary to that angle that the ruler comes up with. It's also good to use the square selection tool to check the lines to make sure the page is straight.
Now if you have a page that has illustrations all the way to the edge of the picture, you'll probably notice an uneven edge now. This is OK though, you can still crop up to the existing edge, though I'm of the opinion the less you crop the better. In cases like that, I'll choose a halfway point and redraw the half that is missing. It just depends on how comfortable you are with redrawing.
Speaking of cropping, here's where you would crop the rest of the edges of the page. In this example, I'd cut the ripped edge off and make sure the page was even on both sides.
Now comes the time to mess with the levels of the picture. Any tutorial will tell you this, but make sure your blacks are BLACK and your whites are WHITE. Easy as pie right? But look around at some hentai translaters and you might see some that don't level the page. You'll easily be able to tell where they erased text on the page:
It's kinda faint on the example, but you still get the idea, it's looks BAD. Leveling the page is the least you can do to make your page look a little better. What you want to do is open the Leveling menu from the Image Adjustment drop down menu:
That first peak shows you the level of blacks in your page, the arrow under it should point to the middle of the peak. This will make most of your blacks 100% black. Now for your whites, you'll want to move the arrow about the middle of the large peak on the right. But a good check to do is moving your mouse to different points on the page. Your cursor will turn into an eye drop and you'll be able to see how "black" and "white" certain points are. You'll want these points to be either 100% or 0%. Now if there's some spots here and there that's nothing to worry about, it's cleanable. But you'll want to make sure the majority of the page is OK You'll notice my values aren't directly in the center of the peaks. I've done that so there wouldn't be as much cleaning of little imperfections, but do be careful to not over level your page. You don't want to go overboard.
Now at this point there are two steps you can choose from, it really just depends on your style. You can either start cleaning the page of any spots or marks, or you can compress the image now. There's pros and cons to doing either or first, but for this example I noticed a lot of minor spots here and there. So I decided to compress the page first in hopes that some would be gone in the compression.
What you'll want to do is go to the Image Size menu, and decide on the size of your page. It's good do choose a standard for your releases or at least make sure that all the pages in one release have the same height (or width, but I like height and if you joint pages together, having a common height is easier). A practice that I've picked up from doing regular manga is using the height of 1500 px. It's a decient size, not too big or small, but I've had been know to use 2000 px if the scans were really nice. That's not really the case here, so I've chosen 1500 px. Now something I also do, is changed the resolution to a lower setting. This is in your best interest if you stick to a smaller size, since the file size will be a lot smaller if you use something like 72 px/in over 300.
Now let's take a look at where we're at now:
Looks pretty nice right? Now that I've gotten it to the size I want, I'll be cleaning up the white and black colors to make sure that there's no specks left from the compression. Also, you'll notice a faint line on the Alice's head in the third panel. My guess is that's a hair that was on the scanner, anything like that you'll want to clean up too.
There's a couple of different ways to clean at this point, I like to just erase bits on the white that I find, and burn out the bits on black that I find. In this case, it was the bits between panels and the black on Marisa's outfit and that that I needed to clean up. Thanks to over leveling slightly, most of the page was OK.
Noooooooooow for the fun part: Erasing text for the typesetting! One of the most basic steps to any release. It's pretty straightforward, but there are different ways to do it. My method is to make a new layer and then just use a white brush to erase the text. This way, if I'm having trouble finding where a line from the translation goes, I can turn off the layer and compare the original Japanese. Even if you can't read it, you can still compare characters to know where it goes.
Now here's a bit from another page that I'd like to bring up. From time to time, you'll come across text that will be outside of bubbles and on the illustration itself. Here's where you need to get a bit of creativity. Let's look at this panel:
Right above the hearts is some text that I'd like erase so I can add the translation in. It's up to you whether or not to spend the time to add lines like these in, but we've got a rule of thumb here at Strange Companions. Usually, we will only translate sound effects that are made vocal by the characters, like sneezing or laughing. Sound effects that are made by the environment or certain body parts *cough* we skip, honestly do you really need to know if cicadas are buzzing? And trying to come up with better sound effects for certain actions *cough* getting pointless at times, because let's be honest, you don't really read them. So unless the sound effect is a plot point, we stick to our rule.
Getting back to the text erasing though, you'll see that the "UHA"s are covering the bookcase and the outer line of the panel. Here's where you would use your brush to redraw the lines and the clone stamp to duplicate the texture on the books to cover up the text. It takes a bit of work, but it does look nice when you finish. Here's what I did with the text added too:
Going back to our original page, here's a look at what we've got as a final product:
Now, there is one other thing I'd like to point out about this page. Take a look at that third panel again. Notice how the first two bubbles that are connected are kinda skinny right? here's what they look like with text in them:
I'll explain a bit more on this in my typesetting post, but I'm not a fan of how the first bubble turned out. I could not get the line to space right and look good. So I decided to go the extra mile and redraw the bubble completely:
This was a choice I made since I'm the typesetter as well, so if you're just doing the cleaning you might not know if you need to do this or not. But at least remember that going the extra mile will make the end result look better, hands down. It's just a matter of if you've got the time and patience lol.
Now you're all ready to start typesetting your page! Next time I'll talk about my process for typesetting and some of the reasons behind the decisions I make. Till then!