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I have made several dozen very intricate original India ink drawings on heavy draft quality paper. On scanning, for refinement in Photoshop, a multitude of artifacts and pixellation show when zooming in along most boundaries. Also, not all curves are uniform, and require some slight correction.

Goals:

  • 1st: To smooth all interfaces between all Black and White boundaries.
  • 2nd: To be able to selectively alter/correct curvatures of components within the master drawings.
  • 3d: To end up with master files for each drawing that can be enlarged without significant resulting pixelation.

Thus far, I have been working in jpeg and tiff files (but from reading on this forum I sense that was a poor choice), I have imported those files into photoshop and have been using a Wacom tablet to smooth and eliminate some other artifacts (e.g. from the white paper).I have labored through about half a dozen of these and it has become an extremely labor intensive and time consuming work. I am not beyond putting a lot of time into the project for the right outcome, but suspect that my method may be 'barking up the wrong tree'...

From reading through some of the posts I gather I should drop the jpeg format all together, convert the files to vector formats and use something other than Photoshop?

Should I be purchasing alternative software packages? Other equipment considerations? What are the best tutorials for learning about any suggested approaches?

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    How did you scan them? What resolution? What is the size of the original work? What is your intended amplification?
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 0:35
  • It sounds to me like you might be better using a vector image editor to do an auto trace, or even reconstruct it manually using vector tools. Illustrator or Inkscape (which is free) have this capability. It would be better if you could supply an example image, or jeven ust a portion of it (at full size) so that we could determine whether that is what would be best for you. Hard to give advice without seeing anything.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 15:43

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This is really broad and somewhat hinges on the actual artwork.

Without seeing any samples, if the art is merely black and white line art, then yes using vector tools (Illustrator, Inkscape, et al.) would most likely serve you better.

The general process would be to scan, use Photoshop to minimally correct (Levels/curves), then auto-trace the raster image to get to a vector format. Or if proficient enough, just manually trace using vector software using the raster image as a guide of sorts. Once vector, much or all of the "noise" found in pixels will be gone, curves will be easier to "smooth", etc. In addition, vector artwork is infinitely scalable (up or down) without any quality loss.

In some instances, with a quality scan, and viable auto-trace, there may be no need to actually edit anything as vector. Merely trace to convert, then save as a vector file. However, this greatly depends upon the nature of the artwork and quality of both the scan and trace.

Eventually one may find that there's less need to be detailed when drawing by hand, knowing that details can be added or "tweaked" as vector objects. In addition, vector features such as patterns, reflecting, duplicating, transforming, etc. may make construction much easier, symmetrical, and uniform than manual drawing.

Example of scan to vector

enter image description here

However, this would require vector tools, and dealing with the learning curve those may present. If you are somewhat familiar with the vector tools in Photoshop, the learning curve may be diminished a bit. But, be aware, actual dedicated vector software will be much more versatile, and feature-rich, than Photoshop's rudimentary vector capabilities.

Whether or not it is worth your time (and possible cost) is for you to decide.

Adobe offers a 30 day free trial for Illustrator, and Inkscape is a free open-source vector editor. So, you could explore a bit to see if it's a direction you feel is warranted.


Reality is, once familiar with vector tools, you may be able to skip the paper step entirely and merely draw digitally (as vector) from the start. Illustrator supports Wacom tablets in many areas.

Full disclosure, even though I've used Illustrator and Wacom tablets for decades, I still much prefer to draw by hand, scan, then manually reconstruct in Illustrator. I just have never gotten the "hang" of drawing digitally without final images ending up emotionless and stale - like they were drawn digitally.

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  • Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I will need to figure how to upload a sample of some of the work. I am working on a series of related images each of which will be the key illustration for a chapter heading (Small scale), but also ideally would be enlargeable to display sizes of 2 x 2 or even 3 x 3 Ft. I have to go 'back to school' and learn about illustrator. I have fairly decent print publication experience, far less so when it comes to manipulation of art files. All input is most sincerely appreciated!
    – DutchProf
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 19:45

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