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I'm sorry for reproducing such a big image. This is a picture of a drawing on a cheap tablet (imitating that scratch paper) taken with a smartphone (which has a bad camera). That was slightly on an angle and there's glare from a light source top right or something.

I need to prepare this for the trace contour filter in my PS CC 2014. I invert and desaturate this but I can't find a way to adjust the different levels of luminosity which makes the trace contour filter detect parts of the image on different levels (bottom left part vs. top right part) instead of all on the same level.

How do I take care of that glare or balance things out, or what do I need to do to make this have the same luminosity or "be even" throughout so that the trace contour filter works (better)?

enter image description here

On a smaller version of the image I ended preparing the file like so which can yield a full shape on a single level but incomplete detection:

enter image description here

Oh, well, maybe sleep on it.

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  • Excuse me, but is the original in a computer? In something that you cannot put to spit the image out as a file? Then get someone who can. The attached image is so blurry, noisy and unevenly exposed that only a human can guess what shape there actually is. That means the edge must be traced manually if you do not get a better quality version. You said theres a glare. It can be compensated but the blurriness and the noise are still there.
    – user82991
    Feb 25, 2022 at 7:35
  • @user287001 I understand. Unfortunately, no. This is a 20$ dumb tablet with no output or files or nothing, you can't even selectively erase, just erase the whole page and start over, it's just for doodling. I guess as you explain I need to play around and there's no automatic way. Find edges works well, I don't get why the result is so different. As you might have guessed here, just some random person with no training. If I lasso the shape, then use the magic eraser selectively on spots, then the color replacement tool on the lines that are more pale, then sharpen the whole thing, well, meh.
    – user172452
    Feb 25, 2022 at 8:00
  • 1
    Then take the photo of the screen by applying at least a little effort. That means: So dark room that nothing reflected can be seen on the screen, the screen turned straight towards the camera and mounted to stay steady, camera mounted on a tripod +focused properly + set manually to have so low DIN sensitivity and so long exposure that the noise is not the major image content. If the image is already erased then prepare beforehand for the next one. It pays off because you obviously can draw something interesting.
    – user82991
    Feb 25, 2022 at 9:56
  • I think this is a case of grabage in = garbage out. The low quality photograph is the problem.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 25, 2022 at 11:15
  • @user287001 I hear you, but this is an EooCoo 10", it does not "glow", but still, good advice, thank you. This is something special, I'm doing this for someone who passed, to memorialize this. I have to do with what is at hand.
    – user172452
    Feb 25, 2022 at 11:26

2 Answers 2

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We'll, it's not going to be perfectly clean... but...

  • Desaturate to remove color
  • Levels adjustment to increase contrast as much as possible. This is going to have a tendency to blow out the upper right corner, so don't do that. Make certain there's still some definition in the upper right.
  • Levels Adjustment Layer - a gradient is applied to the adjustment layer mask so that the levels adjustment primarily alters that upper right corner to bring it back down closer to the rest of the image.
  • Another Levels Adjustment layer to boost overall contrast at this point.
  • New Layer
  • Merge Visible
  • Filter > Trace Contour...

enter image description here

This is just in a few minutes of quickly playing around. Much of this could absolutely be refined. For example a Dodge brush over the bottom areas to boost the whit there may help a bit more.

enter image description here

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  • Thank you! I have to try some more more later on, there must be some configuration of those 2 adjustment layers I'm not doing properly because I'm completely inexperienced and don't fully understand what I'm doing. At some point I ended up with something similar to what you have at the bottom, but the trace contour didn't produce what you have. I would upvote if I could. P.s. Ok, I did achieve something a bit like yours with your help and dodge helps too, I need to fine tune it more, thanks again!
    – user172452
    Feb 25, 2022 at 10:33
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I think this is a case of garbage in = garbage out. It would be easier to take a better photograph, or even better, find a way of making your doodles digitally - like using a graphics tablet and drawing it in Photoshop.

Anyway, if the image is all you have, I would use the Dodge tool set to Midtones, and brush over the the image to brighten the lines, and the Burn tool set to Shadows to darken the black background.

Something like this

enter image description here

Then you can desaturate and use the Trace Contour filter.

enter image description here

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  • Thank you, I do appreciate.
    – user172452
    Feb 25, 2022 at 11:29
  • @user172452 - You're welcome, but maybe it's time to ditch your crappy tablet, and get a cheap Wacom One. It would work much better - and you can paint right in Photoshop with it. I have a similar Wacom Bamboo, I've had it for years. Works great for doodles.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 25, 2022 at 11:35
  • @user172452 - here's an example sketch I made with my cheap Bamboo tablet, I used MyPaint as the software - it's much simpler to use than Photoshop, and it's free software.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 25, 2022 at 11:42
  • Thanks for sharing, I found your sketch beautiful. That's been rebranded as Intuos, the cheapest one (usb) 15cmx9cm drawing zone is inexpensive but that's really small. I'm not used to drawing and looking at a screen, but I had years ago configured PS to imitate a brush stroke with the mouse. The cheap tablet I had was for a senior and it needed to be used in bed and not break. On the other hand they also had a cheap palm rejection non pressure stylus for the iPad but using the set of tools was difficult. Anyways, I love visual magic graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/q/38629/172452 Ty.
    – user172452
    Feb 25, 2022 at 19:30
  • Maybe have a look for a second hand one on ebay. I think a non-pressure sensitive tablet would probably wouldn't be much better than a mouse TBH. I actually don't mind drawing on a tablet and looking at the screen. You get used to it in time. Good luck anyway, hope you find something usable.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 26, 2022 at 0:09

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