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Thread: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

  1. #1

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    masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    I have scanned some hand written text and want to mask the text so I can overlay it on top of a picture, does anyone know how I mask the text? i'm using photoshop cs5.

  2. #2

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    First thought would be to copy the text layer and then use Threshold (Image->Adjustments->Threshold) to give a clean black and white image of the text. If I remember rightly this will give you your text on a transparent background.

  3. #3

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    If I understand your question correctly, Rod, and I have been known to get things wrong.

    The answer is very simple, use the Auto Selection tool and unclick Contiguous. Click anywhere on the text and everything becomes selected. Copy and paste, etc as required.

    I sometimes use that method when copying old material for archiving.

    Depending on the situation it may be easier to select the background then invert the selection. You may need to do a little bit of extra selecting using the 'add to selection' option. And some 'clever' cleaning up of the selection using the special CS 5 tools can occasionally help.

    But I'm just trying to remember a method which I use without thinking so I may have left something out from my description. If so I will have another 'think'.

  4. #4

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    Hi Rod,

    As usual, there are several ways of doing it - as to how well any one of them works depends a lot on how consistent the hand written text is. The ultimate way for quality is to use the pen tool, but that's quite tricky if you're not used to it. Geoff's suggestion may or may not work depending if the writing is linked ... if it's not then you'd need to hold the shift key down to add to the selection, and even then they often don't select it correctly, even when you play with the threshold control.

    If you're desperate, just send the photo to me and I'll do it for you.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 29th March 2011 at 08:41 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    OK Rod, I've gone back to my files to find an example of a tricky example which I had to do recently.

    When archieving some old documents I found an interesting little booklet which had been handwritten in 1852 with a rather questionable quill pen. Once I had deciphered his handwritting I reset everything in text but wanted to use his original handwritting for a cover. But the paper was in a very poor condition.

    Original scanned image
    masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    Finished image
    masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    My method used the Magic Wand Tool with Contiguous initially turned off. Zoom in and click on a dense area of lettering (with suitable Threshold). Most of the text is now selected.

    For the missing areas, choose Add to Selection and try again on a suitable spot. But if large parts of the background get selected it is time to change to a different strategy. (I prefer to manually switch between add or subtract from selection settings by clicking on the icons in the top toolbar which I find less confusing than using the keyboard shortcuts).

    Now, for the fine details, switch to Contiguous and click either on the missing areas (add) or wrongly selected areas (subtract) and keep clicking away until the text cleans up.

    When correct, copy the selected text and paste as a layer onto a new transparent background which can be moved onto your image as required. Or you can paste as a layer direct to your required background. Any wrongly selected spots on the page will need to be removed with the eraser, or other suitable tool.

    I have left a couple of such spots as an example.

    The simple method, which may work if you have good handwritting on a clean background is to use the Magic Wand Tool to select the background then click this selected area with the Magic Eraser and the job is done.

    Alternatively you can invert the selection and copy the text area.

    But as Colin said, there are many ways of achieving the desired result. Possibly showing us an example would allow for a more precise answer. And if there is anything which you don't understand do ask for more help.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 30th March 2011 at 12:09 AM. Reason: images added

  6. #6

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    Awesome, thanks for the replies. I did find this tutorial http://www.viddler.com/explore/rickmead/videos/27/ that makes the text into a brush; but brush size maximum is 2500 pixcels?, anyhow, although it was an alternative to use the text as a brush, i found it limiting. I think i'll try the different ways posted here and see what works for me. Cheers for the offer Colin, I think I'll try it myself, I might need to do something like this again sometime.

  7. #7

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    That linked video doesn't appear to want to view for me but it does sound a bit needlessly complicated.

    If you have good crisp text on a clean background you might get away with simply using the Magic Erasure tool to remove the background without any other adjustments.

  8. #8

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    Re: masking scanned text in photoshop cs5

    Quote Originally Posted by bambleweeney View Post
    First thought would be to copy the text layer and then use Threshold (Image->Adjustments->Threshold) to give a clean black and white image of the text. If I remember rightly this will give you your text on a transparent background.
    Thanks for that tip. When I tried it it left a cleaned up white background but that shouldn't matter. If you now drag that file on top of the photo you want to superimpose the text on and set the blend mode to multiply, the background becomes transparent and leaves only the text superimposed. No selections needed - which in my case is just as well because I don't get on well with selection tools.

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