Scanning Large Images

Lately I’ve been scanning some of my collection of very old or rare comic-books, because reasons. It’s a relatively simple and quick process as long as the comics are smaller than the scanner… American comics, for example, fit very nicely. Unfortunately, a lot of my oldest comics are British Fleetway titles, which tend to be a tad too wide for an A4 scanner. It’s necessary to scan them in sections and then stitch those sections together in something like Photoshop.

The old way of stitching the images together is to take the left-most chunk, add a nice big margin on the right, paste the next image in as a new layer, set that layer’s opacity to 50%, and then slide it around until the overlapping part lines up with the first layer (this takes a little time, which turns into a lot of time if – as is often the case – one or more of the images need to be rotated). Then it’s simply a matter of setting the opacity back to 100% and merging the layers. This process continues until all the images are combined, or the universe ends, whichever comes first.

Here, for example, are the four images I scanned of the front and back covers of Wildcat #1, which I want to seamlessly combine into one large pic.

wildcat scans

To stitch these four scans together would take maybe five minutes on a good day, as long as there’s not too much rotation or patching to do. That’s not a long time, but what if you have a dozen covers or centre-spreads to do?

So is there a faster way? Yes, there certainly is, thank you for asking.

This is Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor):
ice

ICE is a free program whose main purpose is to automatically stitch together sequences of photos into one big panorama, like this one I took in San Diego in July 2014…

panorama

But of course ICE can be used to join ANY images that have enough of an overlap, such as my scans of the Wildcat cover…

wildcat stitched

 

ICE took less than ten seconds to stitch the images together, and the result is at least as good as my previous manual approach. So there you have it, folks! Yer Unky Mikey has just saved you a heck of a lot of time that you can instead spend saving the world or visiting my awesome website at www.michaelowencarroll.com!

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