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I am making this thread to help those who like me want to contribute in some way to the community. The only thing in the scanlation process I could do is cleaning since I don't have access to magazines to scan, don't know Japanese/Korean/Chinese, and also don't have much experience in editing or QC. So here is to all who want to clean for fun or seriously.
I found awesome tutorials on youtube called “How to Clean a RAW Part1” and “How to Clean a RAW Part2” by someone with the id Manga4TW. I know a lot of people use this or similar method but I found these filters not mentioned in many tutorials I had seen. I found some great results using the techniques mentioned in the tutorial so I thought I should share them here.
I tried this on HQ Raws (the ones which had a lot of grays and were 3000+ px), other Raws with 1200px height and were already leveled, and previously scanlated mangas which I felt were quite badly cleaned.
Since cleaning HQ Raws should not be much of an issue for many, I am trying to show you the method I learnt from youtube to clean those low quality, already leveled pages from raws or other scanlation for my own satisfaction. (I feel the need to remind that re-cleaning other group's releases and releasing as your own is not good.)
For this tutorial, I am going to use a page from the Kekkaishi ch 305 Raw. It was already leveled quite a bit and had the dimensions 858x1200.
I used ‘Photoshop CS5’ (x64) with the ‘Topaz Denoise 4’, and ‘Topaz Clean 3’ Plugins (or filters, I am not sure of the correct terminology) to fix the pages.
1 – Open the selected page using Photoshop CS5.
Here is the original page (pg16)
2 – Convert the image to RGB Mode since Topaz filters work with RGB colorspace.
Image > Mode > RGB Color
3 – Select the Topaz Denoise 4 filter
Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Denoise 4
4 – Once the Topaz Denoise 4 dialog opens, try out different settings to ensure the noise in the scanned pages are reduced.
Left Column: The presets on the left are slightly helpful but it is always better to choose one and tweak the setting rather than settling for the presets.
Center Column: In the center is the preview pane. You can quickly see the difference the filter makes by clicking ‘Original’ or ‘Preview’ buttons on the top of this pane. This pane automatically shows the preview when the setting on the right pane is changed, provided the ‘Preview’ button is depressed.
Right Column: The top part of the right pane is a zoomed out preview of the image. You can select the level of zoom the center preview pane should have. This is helpful if you have a HQ raw of 3000+ px since the center pane will be zoomed right in by default making it harder to see the changes.
The right bottom section is the most important with the majority of the time on this filter is spent moving around the sliders to meet your needs. There are two part to tweaking, Noise Reduction and Detail Recovery. Noise reduction will let you tweak the strength of denoise (adjusting red and blue are not necessary since our scans are grayscale), and adjusting the highlight and shadows. Detail recovery is also important since some pages need these settings to be changed. The slider’s names are self explanatory and playing with them can get you some nice cleans.
Once all the tweaking is done make sure to pan the preview to make sure the WHOLE image is well denoised (is it a word ?)and not overly done else you will lose the lines or edges of characters making the page look like it has been painted rather than drawn.
I chose the preset – RAW with strong noise and got a decent result. It looks like the image has some blurred lines but we will try to fix it later.
5 – The tutorial on youtube suggests little leveling after denoising the page. It is upto you, but I prefer skipping it. Instead I suggest doing this step instead as it is more important. Before we use the Topaz Clean 3 filter, make sure you do the following step.
Increase the size of the canvas by 50-100 pixels in both dimensions. (I will explain the reason after we do the cleaning.)
Image > Canvas Size (or just press Alt+Ctrl+C) (I don’t know the Mac shortcut)
The size is shown by default in inches. Check ‘Relative’ and then select one dimension and choose pixels (the other dimension will automatically be switched to pixels as well.) Type in 50 for each dimension. By choosing relative, you don’t have to do the math and know what the new dimension is going to be. It is also helpful when you record Actions. I will talk about Actions some other time.
6 – Now apply the Topaz Clean 3 filter.
Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Clean 3
This will open up the following dialog box.
The dialog box is set up the same way as the Denoise filter. The preset that I usually go to is the Cartooned. But make sure you change the settings the right most pane to that of your liking. For this filter there are three settings: Clean, Edges, and Texture. Clean has strength, threshold, and radius. This makes the small, close together, dots into a smooth blended texture. Edges has accent, radius and sharpness to help make the edges more prominent and defined. This is the setting that helps reduce the edge blur. The Texture settings are only to be used if there are some textures that you do not want to be blurred like a pattern on some character’s shirt or something like that. If no such textures are there, then do put the texture to 0.
The settings above will give you a clean look to the image rather than one with a bunch of dots. This is not always wanted as some mangas have a more realistic look without smoothing out textures. One such example in my opinion is Vagabond.
7 – Now finally crop the white borders. Explanation for having this border: if there is no border, when you use the clean filter, it fails to clean close to 50 pixels from each side leaving unclean border. Hence, I make the border so that the part that does not get cleaned is the border which is later going to be cropped.
To crop, do the same as done in step 5: Image > Canvas Size (or just press Alt+Ctrl+C), Check ‘Relative’ and then select one dimension and choose pixels. This time, type in ‘-50’ for each dimension to get back to the original size.
8 – Now time for leveling the image. You can either do this leveling either in RGB mode (which it is already in – remember step 2) or in Grayscale mode (Image > Mode > Grayscale). I chose to do it Grayscale. (I did - Image > Mode > Grayscale).
To access levels: Image > Adjustment > Levels (alternatively – Ctrl+L works too.)
Adjust the right most (white) and left most (black) sliders and if needed the middle (gray) slider to get an acceptable black-gray-white ratio for the image.
9 – Use the burn/dodge tool to darken grays or to lighten them as needed. Then clean out the bubbles and you are ready with a nice clean page.
And finally here is a clean I did of an old Detective Conan chapter I had on my drive. I did this page in under 5 minutes and I am really a beginner at Photoshop.
These cleans were not done with much care and was just practice cleans and hence are not perfect. The rest of the pages of the chapter were done in under 2 minute by using actions (I was trying to learn it.) Majority of the time is taken up by step 9. i.e. doing the finishing touches, burn here, dodge there, refine boxes, clean out corner artifacts and so on.
The video link to youtube on top briefly explains actions. I don’t think this is the right place to explain the whole thing. Then again I could be wrong.
Finally done. 1300 words !! Since I am a beginner and have some time now before I get busy again, I thought of making good use of the time. Please do correct me wherever I went wrong and I am open to suggestions to improve my cleaning skills. Thank you.
PS: I would appreciate any critique of my work (I have cleaned 4 chapters and uploaded them so far)
It is a good attempt but you will notice how the details of the flower pot and the plants in the top left panel is pretty much lost. They look like blobs. The process I have mentioned will not give you really high quality cleans like the one they use in releases. This could be used for initial cleaning which is followed by a lot of manual work to finish the pages (See the second part 2/2 of the video I linked to in the first post). I don't have any experience in cleaning for any groups and I just started to learn how to do a little cleaning. I am just posting information on what I learned.
Too much filtering.
Just looking at the raw gives you a better idea of what the artist actually drew. Your brain can filter out all the dirt and noise better than photoshop can.
Thanks for posting, but I hate all the filtering. Especially when it comes to HQ/MQ raws, they don't really need all of that. It just makes a blurry mess of the textures and distorts what the manga originally looked like. Unless the raws are really bad, you're almost always better off just levelling/dodging/burning.
But of course the best way to get good cleans is always to start with top-quality raws.
Someone's brief rant on Filter abuse. I agree completely.
Last edited by Name-Undecided; May 26, 2010 at 06:46 AM.
call me oldschool, or perhaps an art lover, but i rather redo the art than simply using filters, if you watn something done quick, than yes, go right ahead and filter yourself to death lol but if you want true quality, redrawing the way JU-NI use to do it, is the way to go, atl east that's my point of view ^^