SCANNING ALBUM COVERS
Before you begin to manipulate any image scanned, know that the secret to good scans is the dpi (dots per inch) setting. While it is true that a monitor/computer screen only needs an image of 75 dpi for adequate display, scanning in images in this low setting will not get you a good quality image to manipulate. Especially when it's not a contiguous image - in this case an album cover - which must be scanned in halves due to the size limitation of most scanners. Any album covers for which I have to scan in halves and then put together to form one seamless image always are scanned in at a minimum of 300-400 dpi. This ensures the best quality. Below is a sample of a front and back album cover set which is on the Mancini discography at bjbear71.com and was scanned in halves for each cover (total of 4 halves):
[These two covers were made from a total of 4 individual scans and then pieced together]
The process for doing this is fairly straightforward within Photoshop--but involves a lot of practice with many album covers before you perfect the process. Don't expect perfection right away! First, make sure that each half you are scanning is saved in the same size. Use the full length of your scanner for each half. If you do not save each scan in the same size, you will have two halves of different sizes. You will not then be able to match up the halves properly and won't have a useable image. Once this is accomplished, with the left half of either cover open in a selected window, open the "Image" menu and select "Canvas Size" (NOT image size!). In canvas size, double the width of the canvas exactly (change the measurement to "percent" to make this easier) and put the image in the leftmost centered box, like this:
Once you've doubled your width and have the
proper box w/arrows selected as above, click "OK" and close this
window. Immediately you will have a white space in back of your image
that's double the width of the image. Open the right half of the
image you scanned in within a new window, select all of it and drag
it to the left window you already have open. Now you can have the fun
of aligning up both halves, making sure that text, graphics, and
photos all are aligned perfectly. Before you "merge down" the layers
into one, adjust the contrast and brightness for the half you just
dragged over so that it matches the left half of the image perfectly.
Once you are satisfied with the results, do a merge down and resize
the image to a slightly smaller size (though not the final size) to
do any restoration work on the cover, color correcting, etc. Any
"seam" that is still left showing can usually be corrected with the
contrast/brightness controls and careful use of the finger smudge
tool in Photoshop. The goal is for your cover to look as though it's
been one piece all along. Once all restoration work is done and you
are satisfied with the results, resize the image again - this time to
the exact size you need. If you are doing a back cover with a lot of
text on it (see sample back cover of "Written
on the Wind/Four Girls in Town"
above) it sometimes helps to select "Sharpen" from the "Filters" menu
in Photoshop to bring the text out.
Here's an example of an item featured on the discographies at bjbear71.com - it is not always album covers that need to be fixed, but other materials also belonging to a featured artist - in this case, the cover of a piece of sheet music from the past. On the LEFT is a photograph of the cover taken at low light level/low resolution. The results on the RIGHT were achieved much in the same way as the album cover above this example, with manipulating the Contrast/Brightness, Replace Color, and Color Saturation tools within Photoshop. Again, the perfect white background was not able to be achieved with the poor quality of the text involved; if it had been a better photograph or a scan taken at a high resolution to begin with, the background could have been significantly brightened to very near its original color.
Other examples of album cover scanning (and
These are the BEFORE photos of a scanned album
back cover currently on the Ogerman site at bjbear71.com.
Along with scanning the front and back covers in halves, the cover
needed restoration work to cover the flaws (punch hole, wear and
tear, ring wear, etc.). The color of this album was extremely hard to
work with because it was not easy to brighten or adjust the contrast
without making the color significantly different (a metallic dark
goldish-brown). The block of text and the block around the "Jazz Man"
label name had to be removed and temporarily put in separate windows
in order to restore the color to the background, then the block
elements were placed back in and blended so that they matched the
background as closely as possible. Tools used in Photoshop to
complete this restoration were the paint bucket, airbrush, line tool
and paint brush of various sizes.
Here is the AFTER photo of this back cover,
scans put together and restoration complete:
[Above left: BEFORE photo of one half of front cover;
above right: AFTER photo of front halves put together and restoration work complete.]
To view the next page of "Album Cover Restoration"