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Assembling multiple scans of one image,
Part two: The Assembly Process
Now we have two or more individual partial image files.
What's next? Some simple addition. Open all of the scans
along one side of the image; note their height and add
them all together to get a total height for the new file you're
about to create. Do the same for the image files along the
top or bottom edge. This gives you a total of dimensions
including overlaps and borders, so it may seem oversized.
For now, use these dimensions anyway - they leave plenty
of room for adjustment.
Create a new file: Cmd-N. Enter your totaled
measurements for width and height; enter the same
resolution and mode as that of your scans; click the
"Transparent" content button, then "OK."
Beginning with your first scan, open each of the individual
scan files, select the area inside of shadows, lines or
distortions, copy your selection (Cmd-C). Click anywhere in your
new document window to activate it and paste (Cmd-V). Photoshop
automatically creates a new layer for your pasted selection.
Choose the "move" tool...
...and move your pasted section loosely into place. Perform this operation on
every successive image until all of them are pasted into the new document.
Save as a layered Photoshop document - DO NOT FLATTEN.
Next, begin a careful alignment of each layer. Zooming to 200
or even 300 percent can be very helpful here. It also helps to show only
the layer you're moving and the layer you're aligning to. To do this
click the "eye" icon on the left side of the layer palette to turn visibility
on or off. (You can option-click on the icon to hide or show all other layers.)
Now you can see why naming the layers in order is important.
As you align the layers, you can make adjustments to rotation, etc.,
but if you have ample overlap don't worry too much if edges appear
to be out of whack a little. Once all the layers are placed as accurately
as possible, crop the overall image more closely and save your work.
Here is our assembled image:
If we zoom in on our image, we see that the color doesn't match on both
sides of the overlap...
(This is very typical of the problems with multiple scans. Scanners
tend to be inconsistent, with a sweet spot and areas of subtle
distortion. The better the scanner, the less this occurs. Usually,
this is not inconvenient or even noticeable. With assemblies,
we have to work with what we get. We can't cover every technique
you may need to implement to achieve a great result when the
assembly is complex, but in most cases, simple processes will do the
trick - especially if the scans were carefully made in the first
To correct this, we activate the bottom layer and adjust using
the Image>Adjust>Brightness/Contrast dialog...
But that leaves the other side too dark you say? Yes it
does, but now we invoke the mighty history brush (a
large, soft version) and go over the "too dark" areas to bring them
back in line. You may need to set the source of the history brush
to get back to the proper place...
Now it's looking pretty good...
The next step is to eliminate areas that just don't want to cooperate.
This time, it's the eraser tool. Choose a large, soft airbrush style
for the eraser and work back the overlapping edges. This process can
almost magically correct alignment problems! Use a harder brush to
remove areas more precisely. If you don't like what you're getting,
go to the history palette, select a few steps back and click on the
trash icon to throw those steps away. If you accidentally throw away
too many, use Cmd-Z to undo and then throw away fewer steps.
Here's what our bottom layer ended up looking like...
After all the hard work, you now have a good single image.
Congratulations are in order, but don't stop there. Flatten your
image and save your work. Now create an outer border, make
color and tone adjustments, eliminate dust speckles... whatever
you can do to bring the image as close to the original as
possible. Here's our final image; a larger version
can be seen here.
Finally, it may be the case that no matter what you try, the images
just don't line up, or a mistake gets saved (easily done with many layers).
The only thing you can do is re-scan the areas that are troublesome, and
lay them on top of what you already have. In the case of the poster assembly
mentioned early in this tutorial, the area that Taz was in would line up
with any two, but not three sides. He was re-scanned using the original
settings and laid over the work already completed. By the time it became
evident how much time such a large assembly was taking, we were
past the point of no return. That experience prompted the use
of a digital camera to shoot the other Space Jam posters.
Life's too short.
To download this tutorial (359k), Click here.
You will receive a text file and a folder with the images.
Click here for a printer friendly version of the complete tutorial.
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