By Anita Bice

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, painting

Introduction

If you are reading this tutorial, you might have an avid interest in digital creativity. Let’s face it, the average online browsing session doesn’t meander into the realm of photo manipulation!

Many of you are experts in the use of digital cameras, and I respect your knowledge immensely. I’ll admit that I’m not an expert with my camera, but thank goodness for smart cameras! My initial interest in photography lies in capturing information for fine art, commercial art and technical illustration. I have been a freelance illustrator for over thirty years; a career which has led to incorporating Photoshop techniques into different phases in the workflow in most of my projects.

The discovery of Topaz Labs and their amazing plug-ins have opened a new door of creativity for me! I attend as many of the Topaz webinars as possible. Sometimes I feel like an intruder, eavesdropping in a digital photographic world in which I am truly a novice, albeit one who wants to absorb by rapt attention…by osmosis…by any means possible. When I listen to the webinar guest speaker, I always listen with an artist’s ear. My mind goes on tangents that are probably not the speaker’s intent. It’s just like going into a hardware store and coming out with an item intending to use it in some way other than its original purpose. And that’s okay with me as it’s my quirky outlook permitting my actions.

So, speaking of tangents…sorry, I did it again…let me get back on track. I was attending one of the recent webinars when the speaker was explaining how to clean up an image, getting rid of jpeg artifacts, color noise, banding, etc. The thought then hit me like a lightening bolt–why not use this information to rid a digitally scanned painting of the glare caused by the varnish or the sheen of the paint?  I’ve experimented a bit so read on to see what I’ve discovered.

Restoring Scanned Artwork

In between commercial projects, I love to express myself in fine art painting. One of my favorite mediums is acrylic on ‘gallery-wrapped’ canvas. I scan the finished paintings (usually in pieces because my scanner is not large enough to scan the image in one pass), and put the pieces back together in Photoshop. This method retains an extremely high degree of detail, but unfortunately, it also retains much of the canvas texture. The image below was a particularity grainy scan:

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, painting

To correct the canvas glare in Photoshop using Topaz Labs:

  • Duplicate the background layer (ctrl/cmd + J).
  • Go to ‘Filters>Topaz Labs>DeNoise 5’.
  • Experiment with any of the presets. For my image, I used ‘RAW – strongest with debanding’.
  • Click OK.
  • Don’t be concerned with the ‘over blurring’ of the image. In the Layers Panel, change the blending mode to ‘Darker Color’. The texture comes back without the white glare of the canvas!

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, paintingThis may be all that your image needs. However, there are a few more tweaks you can try:

Option 1:

  • Create a ‘Stamp Visible’ layer to combine all effects used so far into one ‘Normal’ layer. This is done by using the keyboard strokes ctrl+shift+alt+E (PC) or cmd+shift+E (Mac).
  • Go to ‘Filters>Topaz Labs>DeJpeg 4’.
  • Any of the ‘DeJpeg 4’ presets increase the degree of smoothness. If you want to really blur out the canvas texture, try this custom setting:

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, painting

  • Click OK.
  • In Photoshop’s Layers Panel, change the blending mode to ‘Darken’. The whole point of scanning a finished painting is to create a high quality digital image. For printing, sometimes adding grain or simulated detail helps guard against the ink dots blurring together during printing. It may not make a big difference when viewing the image on the computer screen…it may even appear less desirable on screen, but it may help to achieve a sharper printed version.

Option 2:

  • Once again, create a ‘Stamp Visible’ layer.
  • Go to ‘Filters>Topaz Labs>Topaz Detail 3’.
  • Choose ‘Creative Detail Collection>Micro Contrast Enhancement I’.

04 - Detail 4 - Micro Enhancement I

  • Click OK.
  • In Photoshop’s Layers Panel, change the blending mode to ‘Lighter Color’. This may help bring highlights back without bringing back too much glare.

Option 3:

This may help with a ‘cleaner’ print:

  • Once again, create a ‘Stamp Visible’ layer
  • In Photoshop go to ‘Filters>Noise>Add Noise’

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, painting

  • In Photoshop’s Layers Panel, change the blending mode to ‘Darker Color’.

Option 4:

If you’d like to add an overall, more subtle canvas texture back to your image, try this:

  • Once again, create a ‘Stamp Visible’ layer.
  • In Photoshop, go to ‘Filters>Art Gallery>Texturizer’.

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, painting

  • Click OK.
  • In the Layers Panel, reduce the opacity of the texturized layer to 50%.
  • Create a ‘Stamp Visible’ layer to create a final ‘Normal’ layer.

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, painting

Below are some close up views of the ‘before and after’ images:

anita bice, restoring scanned artwork, topaz labs, photoshop elements, art, paintingYou are finished! What a difference the adjustments have made! There are many Topaz presets and adjustments available that I didn’t try here, like Topaz>Detail5>Smooth Collection, or Topaz Clean>DeGrunge …those work great in smoothing out the glared areas as well (don’t forget to experiment with blending modes after applying Topaz’s filter).

Note: If you have an image that has a glare in one area of the painting, perhaps caused by a camera’s flash, the same techniques can be applied. Once the steps are completed, create a ‘Layer Mask’, invert it and paint back into the specific areas that need adjustments (maybe that’ll be a follow-up tutorial!). I hope you have had as much fun as I have with so many ideas to work on. Happy Creativity 🙂

 About the Artist:

facebook-photoAnita Bice has worked as a freelance commercial illustrator from her home-based studio in Moody, Alabama for over 25 years. Anita received a BA in Art from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, continuing on to Chicago, Illinois for further study at the American Academy of Art. There she earned a degree in Architectural Illustration, and worked in downtown Chicago with an architectural illustration firm. After moving back to the Birmingham area, Anita worked as an in-house illustrator for an architectural firm before launching her freelance career.

For more information about Anita check out her website here.

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