Photoshop Tutorials
The Design Center, Photoshop Department: image editing tutorials  

Matching Oversized Scans

... the easy way!

You know how it is when you sort of get set in your ways? You continue doing things the same way no matter what? I've been matching up scans for years by making both scans, then putting them both in the same file, and doing a 'deep' feather on the matching edge so I could see where they overlap. Then I poke around for a while with the arrow keys, straining at the monitor, until I match the overlap. It almost always works. But it's a lot of steps, and many times the feather causes problems in the merge of overlapping color shifts. Oh well, more touch-up. But Bert's method blew me away.

For our demonstration today, I decided to try Bert's instructions with that wonderful Berkeley Monthly cover he gave me. As an added bonus, the new book Commercial Photoshop with Bert Monroy arrived here yesterday and I immediately dug into it. And, yes -- right here, starting on page 247 are the exact same instructions Bert gave me that day during our visit. (See our review in the Design Bookshelf)

Knowing what to do... when.

First, we want to make sure we get the scan right. They need to be very consistent. I like to run a test strip first just to make sure my scanner settings will give me the color and saturation I'm looking for -- it will save me some editing time later. Let the scanner do the work so you won't have to.
      When you're ready to scan, place the print copy in the scanner as straight as possible. I've learned that my Epson's head edge is not reliable for level scans. So, I rely on the left side. I position the print in the scanner carefully against the plumb side. I'm careful to support the portion of the piece which doesn't fit in the scanner so the whole piece is flat. I'm also careful to put some pressure on the top so it holds the piece tightly against the glass. (For this I use the Photoshop 4 Bible -- much better use than a door stop.)
      If the scan meets your approval, you're ready to load the second portion of the art. Don't change anything in the first scan -- or the scanner. Any modifications should be done after the two (or more) parts are joined. Place the second part in the scanner.
      Always make sure you've got an inch or two of overlap. You can see the shrubs in this snap shot give us lots of overlap to work with.
      After scanning is complete, make sure both images are perfectly level. If one is a bit out of level, make minute adjustments using the Rotate > Arbitrary command set to a fraction of a degree. That way you can toggle it until the image is perfectly level.

Enlarge The Canvas

CanvasNext step is enlarging the canvas so the second part of the image fits.
      Click on the diagram at left to pop up an enlargement and you'll see that we've taken care to push the original image to the top of the enlarged canvas to make room for the bottom.
      In the size field you'll want to at least double the dimension that applies to the enlargement. In this case we're joining vertically so I doubled the height of the current file -- or set height to about 1350 pixels. (This is by the seat-of-the-pants, simply to eliminate taking the time for computations. If I double it or more, I know it will fit. We'll crop it later.)

Bring'em Together

DifferenceUsing the Move Tool (Tap V) drag the bottom portion over into the newly expanded space. It will arrive there on its own new layer. Eye-ball the positioning to a close match.
      Here's where the magic comes in.

On the layer palette with the newly created layer selected as the active layer, click and hold the Layer Blending Modes button, and select "Difference".
      Amazingly enough, the areas where they overlap now turns a very dark color with weird outlining around the shapes. Tweak the layer using the arrow keys and watch. When the band turns perfectly black, it's a 100% accurate match.
      With success of a black band, switch the Layer Blending Mode back to normal, and you can either flatten (Layer > Flatten Image) or merge the layers by using the layers palette pull-out arrow (upper right-hand corner of the palette) and select Merge Down.

Glorious Art

Now that we've successfully merged the pieces into the finished cover, I'll let you see it. Click here and feast your eyes. Want an even closer look? Click THIS! Look at the detail around the door. See the plant there on the balcony? There seems to be no detail left out of this image. Even the draped flowers look realistic. This is the Photoshop art form taken to its highest level. Most anyone can do images from digital cameras or down and dirty tricks with type and filters. But when you can invent an image like this -- beginning with an empty Photoshop file, then you've either made it -- or you're Bert Monroy!

It's all in the book

Commercial Photoshop with Bert Monroy is probably one of the most exciting Photoshop books to appear in quite a while. No, it's not like the Real World or even the WOW series. Those are more in the genre of manuals. This is like sitting down with Bert and following along as he creates some of the incredible imagery that characterizes his masterpieces. Through the deconstruction of real-world projects, Bert takes you step by step through the technical and creative processes. Yes, you'll see the magazine cover and how it was done. You'll see commercial techniques that bring the big dollars from the big time art directors -- like the ones Bert works for: Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Pioneer Electronics, Fujitsu, SONY, AT&T, Chevron and American Express, and many others. Why do they keep coming back? Bert is the master. So, if you want to learn from the master, Bert is your guy.

... and thanks for reading. Good day!

Oh, by the way, I'll show you a bunch more of Bert's work over in my full review of Commercial Photoshop with Bert Monroy in the Design Bookshelf. Come along if you like, I'm headed that way now.

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