Whitby, Ontario
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  Whitby, Ontario

About Me:

I’m an IT Consultant, specializing in:

  • Business Analysis,
  • Business Systems Analysis,
  • Business Intelligence Analysis,
  • Enterprise Reporting & Automation,
  • Business Process Improvement,
  • Microsoft Office Training & Automation,
  • Sage ACT! (CRM) Implmentation & Training,
  • CMS-Based Web Development,
  • Android Automation

You could also say that I’m an Audiophile, with a special interest in tweaking and collecting Vintage Audio. I also enjoy building things myself.

Some of my other interests are:

  • Photography
  • Technology (Linux, Android etc.)

Recent Technology Posts:

Recent Photography Posts:

Recent Audio Posts:

Some Fun Stuff :-)

Tutorial – How to use Photoshop to Darken text in a Scanned Document

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to scan (and send via e-Mail) an ineligible/lightly printed document, rather than having to fax it, or perhaps even photocopy and snail-mail it?

Well, chances are that the text in your scanned version would almost certainly look invisible (or perhaps, even more ineligible than the original), and therefore almost useless for any use at all.

Okay, so let me show you how to achieve amazing results with even the lightest/faintest original document.

Take a look at the image below, which is an unaltered scan of the original receipt. After having tried various settings in the scanners’ dialog box, this is the best I could come up with. I used “Color Photos” for the “Color Mode” option, and “600 dpi” for the “Resolution” option.

Scanned receipt before enhacement

Image of Ineligible Scanned Document

Image of Ineligible Scanned Document

So, the first thing you want to do is to get a digitized version of your physical document. In other words, you first need to scan the document using a scanner (and whatever scanning software you use), and then save the results as a picture/image file type i.e. “.JPG” or “.PNG”.

Now, since this tutorial is about using Photoshop to achieve the results you’re after, I will be showing you how to use Photoshop to both scan your document, as well as to enhance it to be totally legible/easily readable.

So, without further ado, let’s fire up Photoshop and click the top-menu option named “File”. Now, from the “File” drop-down menu select “Import”, and from the “Import” fly-out menu select the entry for your scanner (in my case it’s the “CanoScan N650U/N656U”).

Receipt scanning using Photoshop

Image of Photoshop's Import function

Image of Photoshop's Import function

This should then bring up a dialog box (similar to one shown below) with the scan options for your own scanner. Choose the appropriate options (remember, you might have to try a number of different combinations and permutations) and when satisfied, finalize the scan and close the scanners’ dialog box.

Scanner options

Image of ScanGear screen

Image of ScanGear screen in Photoshop

After closing the scan dialog box, you will be returned to the Photoshop environment where you will proceed to enhance the scanned image.

What you want to do next is to Press [Ctrl]+[J] – in order to make a copy of the current layer. Now, notice in the layers panel that you have 2 layers – one named “Background” and the other named “Layer 1”. The next thing to do is to select the “Layer Mode” drop-down box just above “Layer 1”, and select the option named “Multiply”. You will immediately notice that the text in your scanned document looks significantly darker. If you press [Ctrl]+[J] again, you will have a new layer created (with the name “Layer 2”) which is a copy of “Layer 1” i.e. it will have the layer mode set as “Multiply”, and your text will turn even darker. Go ahead, try it! The more you press [Ctrl]+[J], the darker your text becomes. You have to decide how much is too much, and perhaps either hide, or delete some of the extra layers that you create (which only go so far as to make the text and background way too dark).

The example in the picture below contains just one additional layer, which is more than enough to make the text legible.

Enhanced Image – Layer Mode Multiply times 1

Photoshop Enhanced Multiply Mode times 1

Photoshop enhanced image - Layer Mode = Multiply x 1

In contrast, the picture below contains a total of four additional layers, and while the text is nice and dark, the background too starts to get a bit too dark for my liking. You decide for yourself, if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Enhanced Image – Layer Mode Multiply times 4

Photoshop Enhanced Multiply Mode times 4

Photoshop enhanced image - Layer Mode = Multiply x 4

Now, here’s the final enhanced receipt – with just one additional layer. This was good enough for me, and I believe it should be good for you as well.

Standalone Enhanced Image – times 1

Image of Enhanced Receipt

Image of enhanced receipt

For a “Side-by-Side” comparison, I show you how the two images look together. I’m sure you’ll agree that even people with vision problems should have no problem reading the enhanced image.

Scanned vs Enhanced Image – Side by Side

Image of Ineligible Scanned Document

Image of Ineligible Scanned Document

Image of Enhanced Receipt

Image of enhanced receipt

And, that’s all there is to it, my friend(s).

So, tell me, has this tutorial helped you achieve what you came here for? If yes, please let me know how, and for what.

Alternatively, do let me know if you have a better/different way to achieve this same objective – perhaps using one of the following applications?

  • PaintShop Pro
  • Aperture
  • Acorn
  • Sketch
  • The GIMP
  • Paint.net
  • Sumopaint
  • Pixelmator
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