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January 2012 ArticlesJanuary 2012 Articles

18 Jan

How to remove text from scanned images

Almost like magic

I have the privilege of working for a publisher of childrens books for the iPad and iPhone. My job as the graphic artist is to convert the book’s images from their original print format to files for interactive display.

Sometimes the original print files are not available. In this situation the pages of the printed book are scanned and sent to me for color correction and reformatting.

Printed text has to be removed from each scanned page.  When the text goes over the illustration like this example, the editing can be challenging and time consuming. 

illustration with embedded text

The Prince and the Pauper (pg. 11). Copyright Golden Films.

Content-Aware Fill

Photoshop CS5 Content-Aware Fill is an obvious choice for this kind of edit, but it doesn’t always return the results hoped for.

This is my first attempt.

example of content-aware fill with loose selection

For this example you can see that I created a loosely drawn lasso selection of the text area covering the illustration. Content-aware seemed to get really confused about what to fill the selection with.

Select by Color Range

The key to the Content-Aware filter is in the selection. Content-Aware works best when the selected area is specific to the objects you want to remove.

Follow these steps for almost fool proof results.

  1. Use the eye dropper tool to pick up the color of the text.
  2. Go to Select>Color Range 
  3. Use the + eye dropper to add to the selection and the  - eye dropper to remove from the selection. Preview with white matte to get a good idea of how well the text is being selected. Adjust the Fuzziness to expand or reduce the selection. Hit OK when you are happy with the preview.image of select color range panel
  4. Check the selection by viewing the selection in the quick mask mode, (q) gives you a quick mask alpha channel, (~) hides the RGB channels giving you a black and white preview of the selection. image of quick mask selection
  5. Clean up the selection by painting out the areas of the illustration that shouldn’t be part of the text selection.
  6. Return to the selection by hitting the (q) key again.
  7. Finally, expand the selection by going to Select>Modify>Expand… Expand by 1 pixel.

Now for the Magic!

Click shift - delete to bring up the fill dialog box. Choose Content-Aware at 100%. Mode Normal. 

The result is almost like magic. All you need to do now is air brush out a few specs left over from the text. The illustration looks perfect.

image of remove text results

Remember the better the selection, the better the results. This applies to all uses of the Content-Aware filter.



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15 Jan

New direction for a new year

Abstracts and composites

A new year brings reflection, goals and some new direction. I turned 50 on the first day of this new year and I wasn't too excited about it.  I don't think of myself as old and 50 has always sounded old to me. I don't want to belabor the point of turning 50 but I do want to say that I am more confident at 50 than I was at 40.  There is a liberation that comes with self confidence.

I've been thinking a lot about how much I like abstract images and conceptual, composited digital art, and wondering why I haven't explored these directions in my own art. I recognize some fear of exploring creative directions that may limit the size of my favorable viewing audience.  My New Year's resolution is to tackle this head on.  

Abstract Captures

I jump-started this new direction when I spent the day at Disneyland with my family on December 30th. It was an incredibly crowded day. Thankfully I brought my camera along for entertainment. 

My goal was to create a set of low light, slow shutter speed, abstract type images. I shot mostly on rides or in line for a ride. The plan worked well, because I didn't have to worry about my family wandering off into the crowd while I was composing an image. 

Walking Into Space Mountain

Walking Into Space Mountain

Pirates of the Caribbean Ride

Pirates of Caribbean Ride

Submarine Ride

Submarine Ride

You can view the rest of the set on my google+ album Shapes and Colors of Disneyland

Photoshop Compositing

Last weekend I went see Digital Darkroom at the Annenberg Space for Photography, curated by Russell Brown. It had a significant impact on me. I hope I can make a return visit before the show comes down. My husband commented when we left, "It's like what you do, only more." More, was a major understatement.

The truth is, that I believe I have the skills to create the same quality of images, but I haven't even begun to explore what that might be.

Next month our PAG group has a show titled "Pathways and Portals" and I've been evaluating my catalog for appropriate images. Here are a few I was considering.

Borrego Springs Warm Canyon

Borrego Springs Canyon Light

Borrego Springs Wind Caves

I asked for some feedback from PAG friends and got this honest response, I am not a big fan of canyon photos in general, not yours specifically. I just feel I have seen too many of them.

I appreciated and agreed with that statement. Though I don't have many canyon images of my own, I've seen plenty of everyone elses.  

The show curator, Larny Mack suggested that he saw a face in the wind cave image and maybe I should explore that direction. 

So I took that idea and ran with it.

Creative Portals

Creative Portals

During the editing process I shared it with a friend. Her responses were, makes me sort of dizzy... and I don't really like the feeling it emotes...kind of creepy. 

I'm okay with that.  

Through her comments I discovered a fear. I don't want to explore creepy things. I don't want to uncover anything dark or disturbing while I create, but I accept that I can't let the fear stifle me. Yes, I think turning 50 has freed me.

Besides, this image does not creep me out. Maybe it's a little disturbing at first glance, but the closer I look, the more beauty I see, and that is interesting to me.

This is just a first step on a new path. I'm excited to see where the path takes me. It's going to be an exciting year.


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