Fixing black and white drawings in Photoshop

Hey guys, here’s a quick tutorial on how I personally fix my drawings using photoshop. I hate that my portraits look real nice and crisp in real life, but once they get scanned, it’s like all the black got sucked out of them and I’m left with a greyed out mess that doesn’t look nearly as nice as the original. Luckily, you can use photoshop to tweak some things and make your drawings look more like you want them.

For this tutorial, I’m going to use this portrait I did of my friend Jon. 

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As you can see, the scanner did a weird job of the proportions, and the colors look off and patchy. What I first did was use the Rectangular Marquee Tool and made a selection of the part of the drawing I wanted to keep and pasted it into a new window (that way I got rid of the white margin that came out from the scanner going over the page). Next, I used the Free Transform option to rescale the image so it wasn’t so stretched out.

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Much better in terms of proportions! Next, let’s try to fix the color. In the original, the background was pitch black, but some of the color lifted in the scan. Next thing is to duplicate the layer (right click the current layer tab and select Duplicate layer). This way we can make adjustments and go back to the original if we don’t like it.

For black and white drawings, I like to go to Image> Adjustments> Black and White. This way when we mess around with the levels and curves we don’t get a weird green cast. But this still doesn’t bring the black back into the drawing.To bring it back, we can use the nifty Levels options. 

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Dragging the arrows around allows you to lighten and darker the tones of your pictures. I like to drag the left most one quite a bit in, which effectively darkens the background and shadows that otherwise wouldn’t be showing. 

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After tweaking the arrows for a while, this was my end result. More techniques could be used, like using the Burn tool to further darken some areas to make them blend better, like the shadows in the hair. But for now, this will do. 

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The finished product.

I hope you learned something new and hopefully this will be useful for you when you’re trying to fix your scans!

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