Youíve got raws you grabbed from god knows where, a copy of Photoshop and a script you got from IRC or made up yourself, what do you do next?
Itís time to learn how to not suck at manga editing without taking 5 hours per page.
Sometimes you may get raws saved in indexed color rather than RGB or grayscale. If you find this is the case, you'll notice many photoshop tools don't operate correctly (or at all). For this reason, we'll be working in 8-bit grayscale for all pages but color ones.
Before we go further, Save as PSD right now. Save at every step because sometimes photoshop will decide it's time to crash.
Even the best scans can come out kind of tilted. Internet sourced raws can be extremely bad in this respect. Fortunately, Photoshop provides a means to do fix this fairly quickly.
Select the measure tool.
Click a spot at one end of a line that should be vertical or horizontal (it doesn't matter which). Now drag to the other end of the line and try to get the line the tool makes to match that line.
Now select rotate canvas->arbitrary.
The value needed to make that line you just traced line up will already be in the box. Click ok and the image will adjust itself.
I would caution, however, that if you have smaller sized scans (say 1100 pixels tall or less), you may want to skip this step unless the pages are just disgustingly askew as you're ultimately going to have to crop more on a rotated page.
Grab the crop tool and get rid of the non-image part of the page, crap around the edges. If your scans are decent, you may not need to do this.
In this step we take shitty, unleveled raws and make them look somewhat presentable. This is persistently a step that gets overlooked or screwed up in the kind of quickie job scanlations we see these days, especially when it comes to hentai.
Below is a pretty typical example of an unleveled scan.
Open up the levels dialogue box.
You'll see this. I've already selected the levels I want for this. You can do this in about 10 seconds, just drag the black triangle and white triangle over to the point where the image page is white, and the solid black areas are actually black.
And we get this. There's some added aliasing along some lines here, but the source of this image is over 1500px tall so resizing will take care of that problem. Some net sourced scans have acceptable leveling to begin with, so this step may be skippable.
If you haven't had to straighten, crop or level your image, you probably can skip this step unless your scans are exceptionally tall. I have a preference for 1200 vertical pixels, but there's no hard and fast rules for this. If you scans have required heavy leveling and are already 1200px tall, you may want to consider moving them down to 1100ish. Make sure "constrain proportions" is checked, bicubic resample, and before inputting your size you may wish to modify the DPI to 90 or less (for the purposes of the text to be added later on, this really changes nothing else). I use a photoshop action for this to speed it up, but I'm not going to confuse people by trying to explain how to set that up, there's plenty of more detailed instructions on actions out there.
Removing the text is an area full of personal taste. If you're comfortable at all with photoshop's vector tools, I'd suggest using the pen tool to effectively outline text with a white shape.
Now just click points to outline it. This really only takes a few seconds once you get used to it.
For text found outside bubbles and occluding artwork, it's even more subjective, especially if getting it done relatively quickly is a concern. Completely redrawing artwork with cloning, vectors, paths, patterns and the like can take hours; covering it up sloppily can take mere seconds. There are plenty of guides out there on how to use the tools photoshop provides to accomplish redrawing artwork. This is something that just requires practice both when doing it correctly and doing it quickly.
There are some tips I can offer, though, if speed is a concern. Abuse the hell out of the stroke layer style. Depending on the art style of a manga, using a fuzzy stroke effect can cover up the old text effectively and make it look decent. Make your own text boxes, manga artists love text boxes for internal dialogue and narration, and it's not difficult to make your own with the vector tools. Another option is to place your text and clone "behind" the text layer to give an illusion that the artwork is intact when, in fact, it's a muddy mess.
Drag the text tool across an area to make a text box and dump your text in there.
I try to avoid breaking words apart if it's at all possible. Since Japanese is written vertically, this is often a problem.
You may wish to bring up the character palette in photoshop to get more control over what the text is doing, from kerning to spacing and other controls the text tool's menu doesn't offer.
Now we have an image with text. There's only one step left.
PNG is usually going to be the best choice of format for grayscale manga images, producing clearer images and a smaller file than JPEG, which artifacts badly with grayscale. The exception to this is if your scan came in already heavily artifacted JPEG. Now, the example image I've used above came as a JPEG and is one of the worst examples of net sourced scans I could find, but it still comes out looking fine in PNG. The trick to PNG is that a 256 color image is going to be unacceptably large, but we don't need most of those colors so go to to File->Save for Web and you'll get a dialogue box.
A- Original, B- Preview, C- IMPORTANT STUFF HERE, D - The "colors" in the image, E- The filesize.
As you can see, this is producing a fairly large file size with all 256 colors included. Drop it down to 16 colors and you get something more acceptable.
Click save and you're done. You can screw around with the colors included because a lot of manga don't even need 16 colors, but if you don't really give a shit about the file size since it's all going to Rapidshare anyway, 16 will work for just about anything.
With practice, the most time-consuming portion of this process will be the actual text removal and placement.