How to scan B&W line art

Here's a method I have used to scan my comic line art since around 2005. I can't recall exactly where I learned this technique, but at the time I confirmed that it was standard practice by a couple of other professional comic artists.

It might seem excessive but it gets impressive results and despite what you may think, it produces file sizes smaller than jpegs at a third of the resolution. It also produces the most accurate and crisp line art you can imagine.

  1. Scan art work at 1200 DPI greyscale
  2. Open in photoshop (Crop, resize, transform how you want)
  3. Clean up artwork using you preferred method (for smudges, stray dot, inks spills, mistakes etc)
    • levels
    • threshold, 
    • eraser tool 
  4. Change the colour mode: Image / Mode / Bitmap
  5. A context menu appears with options, chose
    1. Output 1200px per inch
    2. Method: 50% threshold
  6. File / Save as / TIF / LZW compression

Now you have a super hi resolution digital file of you artwork that you can use for printing. The file size is even more reasonable than a jpeg thanks to the LZW compression option. This method also works for colour pieces but requires some extra steps.

  1. Prepare you artwork as above
  2. Once saved, revert back to greyscale: Image / Mode / Greyscale
  3. Reduce image size: Image / Image Size / Resolution [change to] 300dpi
  4. Create a new layer/s for colour
  5. Put B&W line art layer to blending mode / multiply
  6. Colour artwork as best you see fit
  7. When done colouring, turn off all layers except colour
  8. Make a copy of the file (as not to overrwite your hi-res B&W file
    1. File / Save As / jpeg (or whatever works for you)
  9. Open up Adobe Illustraor (or similar software)
  10. Create a new file the final print size of you document
  11. Place the colour jpeg file
  12. Then place the B&W line art over that (they have the same dimensions, although one has a 300dpi resolution and the other 1200dpi)
  13. Save as a PDF (or whatever file you need)

This way you have the colour saved at a reasonable DPI (and file size) and the super hi res and crisp line art goes over the top. It might sound crazy but it results I impressive results with manageable file sizes.


I found this True Grit overview of using 1200DPI bitmapped Tifs useful, https://www.truegrittexturesupply.com/blogs/news/1200dpi-or-die 

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