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I came up with a nice method for cleaning up pictures like this, and it works even when the background or lighting is uneven (that is, far worse cases than the example in this question) and it retains the colour. My instructions are based on the Gimp, but it would be very similar in other programs like Photoshop. Firstly, make a duplicate of the layer: ...


Ramp the contrast up with curves. Instructions: Select your image and press Ctrl-M. This will bring up the curves dialog. Move the top point left and the bottom point right until your image becomes black and white. (that rhymes!)


First you'll want to desaturate the image (CMD+SHIFT+U), this removes any color and makes it easier to achieve pure white. With your file open, choose Image->Adjustments->Levels. You'll get this: Now bring the two outer triangles in like this (you'll need to play around with this until you get something you like): You should end up with this!


I want you to know about some trick which probably will help you subtract the brush equal shapes from other shapes. Let's say you have a circle and some brush: You want to subtract from the circle the shape equal to this triangular brush. For that, you Click-and-Drug this brush to any free-of-objects area on your artboard or outside it - you will get ...


Double click on eraser icon gives you this menu - where you can change some parameters of the cursor - If you want to work precisely and very fast I suggest you spent some time learning Pathfinder tool.


Besides placing the text over a background and using multiply to have it superimpose correctly (as tomtomtom mentions), you might want to add a level of detail and have the writing a bit distorted, where the texture is. Say, there's a crease in the parchment, then it's unnatural if the writing doesn't follow that crease. Here's how you add a Displacement ...


I'm guessing the text is black and its background is white. Add a level under the one with the scanned text, and place your background texture there. Then select the layer with your text and select Multiply in the layer blend mode (here, don't care about the layers shown it's just a pic I found online) Then if you want you can also edit a bit the opacity % ...


All you need to do is choose Image > Adjustments > Levels and alter the levels within the image. Simply drag the left triangle (black) to the right to darken the dark areas and then drag the right (white) arrow to the left to lighten the lighter areas on the image. Viewing the histogram will help. It shows the ramp on the right which is all the ...


You need better edges. In Adobe Illustrator it is called Image Trace and will allow you to reduce the numbers of colors in the image for the purpose of defining better edges for the wand tool to use. Depending on what your doing you may want to do some hand touch up of the edges.

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