Join Us – Scanners
Scanner Hardware Requirements
- A stand-alone flat bed scanner. All-in-One printers will be declined.
- Uses CCD, not CIS. CIS scanners will be declined.
- Minimum of 2400 x 4800 optical resolution.
- Willing to cut your books so the pages scan flat. Doujinshi do not have to be cut. If you want to de-bind, any method is fine as long as the glue doesn’t get in the artwork.
- Able to get Japanese magazines and/or tankoubons we need in a timely fashion.
- Preferably EMS shipping via Amazon Japan, Mangaoh or BK1, or live in Japan and can pick them up at the bookstore.
- Scan at 300dpi or 600dpi
- DeScreen on
- Disable, or lower, the sharpness filter.
- Scan color pages at 24-bit color and black/white pages at 8-bit grayscale.
When you email us, please tell us the name and model of your scanner (ie: Epson Perfection 4490, CanoScan 5600F, etc) and be prepared to scan a few samples pages so we can check the quality of your scanner. It is unnecessary to cut your book for this as long as the page is as flat as you can get it. For detailed instructions on debinding and scanning, please check out the scanner section in the tutorial.
- X-acto #11 knife
- Extra blades & masking tape
- 12″ inch cork-backed metal ruler
- Black cardstock paper
- A clean hardback book
Here’s a tip that will screw the order of the entire tutorial: SCAN YOUR COVERS FIRST. This isn’t too much of a problem with tankoubons because the dust covers come off, but with doujinshi, scanning them will put a crease along the spine on the front and back cover. If there’s artwork on the real cover of the tankoubon, scan them before you cut the pages out so they don’t get messed up. Make sure your scanner is set to the right settings (especially sharpness) because once the cover’s bent, it’s bent. (Jump down to the “Scanning” section for details on checking your scan quality).
Preparing the Book
Open to the middle of the book and set it on a clean table or hard surface (the carpet works for thick magazines). Once you’re sure you didn’t fold any pages in half when you set it on the table, push as hard as you can on the spine with the palms of you hand. Do the same near the front and back of the book, maybe even just inside the front and back cover. This will help you when you’re cutting. If you hear the spine crack, you’re in for an easy day. If pages fall out, try to keep them in order ^^;;
If you’re scanning doujinshi, you’re probably not going to cut the book up ($14 a book–hell no.). Instead you’re going to want to press as hard as you can in several spots to make scanning easier later on. Skip down to “Preparing to Scan.”
I like using an X-acto #11 knife with a fresh blade and a metal cork-backed ruler. A new blade will cleanly cut through dozens of pages in a swipe or two. When the blade starts to leave rip marks on the paper it’s gotten too dull and needs to be replaced. A metal ruler means you won’t be taking slivers off the ruler with you every time you cut like you would with a plastic or wood ruler. Using a cork-backed ruler is a good idea because it won’t slide when you’re cutting it. A 12 or 15 inch ruler is ideal. It’ll cut magazines as well as tankoubons and it’s not so long that it’ll knock into things while you’re working. Do not use a ruler that’s smaller or just barely clears the page. If you ease up on the pressure at the beginning or end because you’re almost out of ruler, the edges won’t be cut and you’ll have to cut them afterwards. It also leads to tearing. If you try to continue your line, there’s no way you’ll get it in the same spot again.
When you go to cut, put the ruler as close to the cover as possible. Your blade is thin so it can fit in there (you want to get as much of the pages as possible). Angle your blade down over the side of the page but keep the blade itself vertical! If you angle the blade towards the ruler the blade will go under it because of the cork! You want your blade to start out over the edge of the page so it will cut it. You also need to angle your knife down when you get to the end so it will cut that edge as well. If you don’t do this, you will have a centimeter at the beginning and end that aren’t cut and when you go to pull the pages out, they won’t budge. Don’t tear the corners out! Editors need a perfect line when they’re putting together double pages. Every piece of paper left in the binding means the editor has to re-create that area in Photoshop. You also run the risk of tearing more than you expected (hopefully not into the artwork.)
Once your top page is free (if you’re using a fresh blade it should only take one or two cuts), gently pull them out of the book, flip them upside down and set them in a safe spot. Keep doing this until you’re done.
Now that you’re done, you need to keep them safe until it’s time to scan. I folder a piece of printer paper vertically in half and write the information on it in a hard leaded pencil (pen and soft lead can smear. For non-artists, use a 0.5 pencil. 0.7 is uber soft) and wrap that paper around the pages. If you’re working on a tankoubon, don’t separate them by chapter because some chapters will end on the backs of new chapters. Just keep them together, it’ll make life easier later. Magazines you should separate.
After they’re “paper-clipped” in paper, I place them inside a poly envelope. I’m partial to Itoya but they’re friggin’ expensive. I’ve seen cheaper ones at office supply stores. I just like that poly envelope protect better than pocket folders, they’re clear and I can comfortably fit 200 pages in one. Coolest things I’ve ever found.
Preparing to Scan
Before scanning, make sure your glass is clean. If you wear glasses, the little cloth and glass spray your eye doctor gave you will work perfectly (you can also try to buy some from Wal-mart’s eye care center. They have to have the damned things). If you don’t, get a non-streaking glass spray and a lint free cloth. A cotton t-shirt works better than paper towels.
Also, get your black paper ready. The purpose of the black paper is not only to keep the page down, but it stops the artwork on the other side of the page from coming through. Or it seems that way. It actually evens out the black coming through the other side…let’s try that again; instead of seeing black lines, now you’re seeing a giant solid shade of black. This is why it needs to be a heavy paper (card stock, that craft store memory paper, thick poster board). If the paper’s too thin, like construction paper, it’ll let light through. Don’t use foam board. Little static balls on glass is a mess. It also won’t like any weight you put on it.
The entire point to the black paper is because it helps the editor level the whites. Otherwise, the editor will have to overlevel to remove the ghostly artwork showing through.
Doujinshi scanners, skip to the next section.
So after you glass in dry, put a single page on the scanner and push it until it hits the top of the scanner. This isn’t perfect for straightening but it should be enough. The only reason you don’t want to do this is if your scanner cuts off a decent amount of the top when it scans (mine does a little).
If your scanners big enough for two pages, I know you’ll be tempted to do it but don’t. It makes the editor’s life utter hell. That being said, carefully place your black paper over it so the air doesn’t move the page (I line mine up with the top of the scanner too).
Now there are two ways to get the image to scan flat. You can close the lid carefully and hope it doesn’t move your paper and that it puts enough pressure on the page to keep it flat. Or you can keep the lid open and set something larger than the page and heavy to press it all down, like a book. A CLEAN text book or large hardback novel works wonders. I say clean because the grimy smudges on textbooks can come off on your paper (and just think about all the students that book as seen. Do you really want it touching your paper?). Keep in mind that putting too much weight on your scanner can ruin it (it probably crushes the thing that moves the light). I’ve yet to do so and I’ve put some heavy shit on it. Just don’t drop a book from space on it and your scanner should be okay.
If your scanner program isn’t already loaded up, get that going. First things first, filenames. If you know the title of your project, help make our life easier by letting your scanner software name the files for us. With Epson, click the arrow next to the preview button and choose preferences. Set your file names up like this:
Full_Title_v01_ch01_01cover.jpg / 02back.jpg / 03insert.jpg / 04insert.jpg
Epson does the number count for you, so you would put “Pet_wo_Kaimashou_v01_ch02_pg” and it will add the ###.jpg after it without any spaces between your title and its numbering. When I do my covers and inserts, I put the numbers into the 900s, then go back and add the correct “numbering” later.
You’ll want to do a preview scan to get an idea of how tall your page is. I usually just set the book down so it scans the cover. Use your program’s crop tool to select the entire width and go a few inches lower than the page itself. This will give you enough room to work without having to be anal retentive about cutting off part of the page. This will also leave enough of the scanner bed for the editor to rotate/crop the page with.
If you’re scanning doujinshi, you’ll slip your black paper in behind your page and set your “something heavy” down on top of the spine. If your heavy object isn’t touching the corners of your books, set whatever will fit down on the corners because nothing is pressing them down. This means your corners can scan blurry since they’re not touching the glass. I’ve used everything from a stapler to a CD case for this.
Press on your heavy object. Did the area around the spine get closer to the scanner bed? More than likely yes and this is why not cutting your book sucks a lot. Hit the scan button and quickly press down on your heavy object. Make sure you put similar pressure down on the top and bottom of the spine so your gutter isn’t at an angle. Close your eyes and don’t move until you hear the scanner moving back. Congrats, you just saved an inch of the book from being cropped out. Check your scans now (more details below) and then to make sure you’re putting the right amount of pressure. Depending on how the book was pressed, you might have to deal with diagonal gutters but try to avoid them at all cost.
Back to every type of book…
Make sure your settings are right (DeScreen is on, 300 or 600dpi, 24 bit color or 8-bit black and white, etc). Hit scan.
Now is a good time to make sure your scan settings are correct and that there isn’t any hair or uber dust on your glass before you spend hours scanning. Open up your image in Photoshop and check out the artwork at 100%. Any stray hairs or dust balls? Are your lines too blurry? Are they too crisp? Are your screentones gonna moiré pattern when they’re resized? Why the hell should I care?! I’m not an editor! Well, you can either spend an extra 10 minutes to check your work or take the risk of getting an email saying to rescan 200+ pages for whatever reason. It’s your call.
If it’s too crisp, your sharpness is too high. If it’s too blurry, your sharpness isn’t high enough (or you’re doomed because you have a film under your glass–we’ll get to that later). Your artwork should be a little smooth but not too crisp either. Don’t “fix” this in Photoshop; let the editor deal with it. Just play with your scanner settings until things look decent. If you’re new and unsure, send a scan to us and we’ll check it out.
So what about moiré patterns? We’ll check this by doing exactly what the editor will do.
Hit “C” on your keyboard to select the Crop Tool and zoom out to 25%. Go to the top left corner of the page (not the image!), click and drag until you reach the bottom right corner and release. The page will now have a dashed line around it and everything outside will be grey (or it would if you didn’t have black surrounding your page). Now you can double click the area you selected to confirm the cropping, or go to Image -> Crop. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This is just to get an idea. Now let’s set up an Action so you only have to do the rest once.
Open the Actions window: View -> Window -> Actions
Actions record your steps in Photoshop so you can let Photoshop do all the work the next time you do this. Quite the time saver. With your cropped image, click the little arrow at the top right of the Actions window and choose “New Action”. Name your action something meaningful like “Scan Resize” and click “Record”. The little red circle at the bottom of the Actions window means you’re recording. To stop recording at any time, hit the square to the left of it. You can always stop and start again. Now it’s time to resize.
Resize the page: Image -> Image Size.
A new window will pop up. Make sure “constrain proportions” and “resample image” is checked. At the top where it says “width” and “height”, change “pixels” to “percent”. Depending on which version of Photoshop you’re using, you might have to change both height and width to percent. Now that you’re in percent mode, change the width to “95” and click okay. Repeat these steps except put “85” and “75”. After that’s done, open the resize window again and change the resolution to 72, then change the width to 700 pixels. Resizing it by percent basically squishes the pixels together multiple times before the final resize to 700px (our width for single pages). I’d explain why we use percents divisible by five, but I’m not enough of a geek to fully know why. I just know that resizing to percents like 82% makes lines look jagged.
Now that we’re done, go back to your actions window and hit the stop button. If you want to test it, close your scan without saving, re-open it, crop and hit the play icon (with your Action selected, of course). Sadly, your crop will never be the same so you can’t action it (we dream about it though). You can also turn steps on and off by clicking the check marks to the left of them or drag and drop them to the trash can to delete steps.
This should give you a decent idea of what the editor will see. If you see moiré patterns, double check to make sure descreen’s on. If you’re not scanning a doujinshi and you’re still getting moiré patterns, send us the scan so we can play with the resize percents before you continue. Sometimes just doing 75% then 700px will work and other times, 700px works fine by itself. This will also let you see how crisp your lines are. If their horrendous, we’re gonna have problems but a little bit of blur is good for leveling. The editor can use the unsharpen mask later if they feel it’s necessary. Adjusting the sharpness is something you shouldn’t decide until you’ve worked with the pages for a while. Even I wait until after I’m done leveling (or typesetting!) to make the decision.
Once everything’s cool, you can scan the rest of those 200+ pages and then the only rescan emails you have to worry about is if a hair snuck in for a few pages.
Zipping things up
Now that you have everything scanned, it’s time to zip up your files and upload them to the FTP.
Single chapter: Full_Title_v01_ch01.zip
Multiple chapters: Full_Title_v01_ch01-04+extra.zip
Complete volume: Full_Title_v01_Complete.zip
*Do not use ampersands, or parentheses in file names to combine chapters. Use a dash for chapters and + sign for the extra. This is for technical compatibility reasons across operating systems and programs.
The [Dangerous_Pleasure] tag (or [DP] if the file name is already too long) will be added at the time of the release. Please do not add the DP tag to your zip file.
Once your file is zipped, head over to the FTP section to see what folder your scans go in to.
Taking care of your scanner
They’re expensive little buggers so you want them to last a long time.
Don’t store your scanner on the ground. Carpet, dust and hair love to get inside under the glass. Store it in a drawer or cabinet to protect it from things that float around in the air. It’ll also last longer if no one can accidentally kick it or drop things on it. Treat it like the hundred dollar toy it is ^__^
Don’t store the scanner with paper on the glass (there’s ink on that paper!) and don’t set shit on top of the lid when you store it (pressure = bad).
Scanner Film (aka Scanner Death)
A film under the glass usually means laying your scanner to rest or turning it into a hand-me down. Over time, you might notice your scans are getting blurrier or a streak is forming under your glass. This streak is where the ribbon is rubbing against the glass during scanning (our all-in-one printer came like this. Leave it to HP to make a scanner where parts rub across the glass). Anyway, that means there’s a film on the underside of the glass. The older the scanner, the more film will be on it. Depending on how horrendous the blur/clean streaks are in your scans, you might still get some projects out of it.
What makes this so horrible? The only way to get the film off is to take your scanner apart and clean the underside of the glass. Scanners aren’t meant to be snapped apart like Legos and you can very easily break your scanner doing this. It doesn’t matter how careful you are not to touch the chips on the inside, you may just never get it back together–plastic breaks. The only reason you should do this is if it’s so freaking bad that you would have to get a new one anyway. Go into this thinking it will break, because it probably will. Taking your scanner apart is something you do out of desperation only. If you do decide to do this, Google your scanner to see if someone else has already done it. They might say what they pried on and swore at for hours before it snapped open.
The upside is it took my scanner around three or four years to get a film so bad that wondered what was going on. I did manage to snap my Epson apart (four times in a row, actually. I kept getting more dust in it every time, too) but I never want to do it again. About the bright side, the dpi on the Epson Perfections have doubled since I bough mine. Bwhahaha!