ghiblike's guide for editing

KickTheKitty does a great job bringing us quality scans of manga but stops just one step short. This guide's intention is to give you the tools and skills needed to take that small step. So read on if you wish to learn how to go about editing HQ scans from this blog.  

But first a disclaimer - I'm not the only one who edits KickTheKitty's scans and this is not the only way to do so, I just wished more releases were edited and thought this was the best way to try and make that happen. It would be great if other people posted their tips and techniques.

This is easy and requires only 15 minutes for setup but needs Photoshop. First extract the manga volume to folder of choice (e.g. Ayako RAW) then open one of the scans in Photoshop and record the following action (remember to press Stop after you're done):

Duplicate Layer
Select->Load Selection (Background Gray)
Edit->Fill (with Black)

This is the first step in the levelling process (which I learned from the book Japanese Comickers. The scans will still need some levelling after this; to gauge much open a few random B&W scans and use the action we just recorded, then play around with the levels to decide an average for all scans (it should be pretty consistent give the HQ and uniformity of the scans). Here's an example of what the levels should look like screenshot

Now it's time to record the last part of the action. Simply select the action and click record to add the levelling step. In addition to this add a Save as JPEG step (it doesn't matter where you save it to); this will be useful for when we batch process the scans. Your completed action should look like this:

Now go File->Automate->Batch and choose Source folder (e.g. Ayako RAW) and Destination folder (e.g. Ayako levelled) and check Override Action “Save As” Commands. Basically it should look like this:

Now wait while Photoshop does the grunt work for you and you're done levelling. Remember to delete the B&W versions of colour scans and replace them with originals (I don't feel the need to modify colour scans).

Page splitting, de-skewing & cropping:
This part is also easy but requires time and patience. I use software called ScanTailor to accomplish these steps, get it from here.

Run ScanTailor, select new project, browse input directory to the folder with the levelled pages (e.g. Ayako levelled). Then set the output directory to another folder of your choice pages (e.g. Ayako edited). There usually shouldn't be a need to remove any files from the project but do check Right to Left Layout (except if the publisher has flipped the scans). 
The program will sometimes prompt you to fix DPIs, to find out the DPI of a scan, open it with Photoshop and go Image->Image size and check the Resolution. The DPIs should be consistent but may vary between colour and B&W scans. Enter the correct DPIs for the pages and click Apply, then when you're done click OK and you should be presented with the main interface of the program:

1.Fix Orientation: Nothing to here; simply click Apply to->All pages->OK and move to the next step.

2.Split Pages: Depending on the manga this needs to be done page by page or can be automated to a certain extent. Basically choose the split-page layout for the pages that need splitting and demarcate the split-line manually if needed or choose the whole-page layout for double page spreads.

3.Deskew: This usually requires fine adjustments that only become evident in the Select Content step so I select Manual, set the rotation to zero and Apply To->All pages.

4.Select Content: This is the most time consuming and tedious bit (even more so if you have an OCD for perfection like me :-P). Just make a box around the bits you want to keep; you'll need to use the mousewheel to zoom in on the edges to make sure you're not cutting anything off. This will also highlight any skew in the pages, which can be corrected by going back to Deskew. There are no shortcuts here as each page will need to be cropped by different amounts.  After going through the pages once, go over them again to review because this is the last editing step. 

5.Margins: Nothing to here; simply set all margins to zero and Apply to->All pages->OK. Also uncheck Match size with other pages and then Apply to->All pages->OK. Nearly done…

6.Output: Set Mode to Colour/Grayscale and Apply to->All pages->OK. Set Output Resolution to the required level for all pages (Scope->All pages->OK) but remember it may vary between colour and B&W scans. Turn Dewarping off by going to Change and then Scope->All pages->OK. Finally, click on the ‘Play’ button next to Output and wait till the images are saved in the output directory.

Final bits:
Because ScanTailor outputs as TIFF you'll need to automate Save as JPEG in Photoshop; as we did before first creating an action (screenshot) then File->Automate->Batch (screenshot).
If you're up for it you can stitch the covers and try to redraw the double pages. 

You need to rename the pages using a program like Ant Renamer. You can choose to simply enumerate them (e.g. Ayako001, Ayako002.. )  or you can be more precise and name each scan in keeping with the page number (e.g. Ayako p001, Ayako p002-003… ) this involves renaming up till a double page then renaming up till the next double page etc.
Rename the folder to reflect your contribution ;-) (e.g. Ayako [kickthekitty][ghiblike] ), zip (I use 7-Zip for this) and upload to a filehost. Lastly share the link in the comments of the relevant post and revel at a job well done!

If you have any questions or comments please leave a reply and I will try to respond. 



  1. Thank you very much for the guide, I am trying to follow them now ^^ I will ask you if I have something I don't understand :D

  2. I'd like to note that, although this is fast and gives a not too bad result, the selection certainly doesn't grab everything and often gives you weird spots in areas;
    Rather than doing that I'd suggest just leveling too black till the blacks are right. If any dark tones got damaged, curve them or copy them from the raw.
    Using the same action on a whole volume makes for sloppy cleaning and will make you miss a lot. levels should NOT be expected the same on every page, even if the scanner and paper stays consistent - the amount of ink on each page varies.
    Immediately changing scans to grayscale isn't always needed either, for good scans that are scanned in full colour you can usually use that to create a better contrast by using image -> adjustments -> selective colour (of course you'd have to make it monochrome when you're done cleaning)
    Hope this might help some people.

  3. Can someone update the images for this tutorial?

  4. Or make some video tutorial.